Do you also struggle to find time to read ?
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Since returning to the office at the start of this year, I've struggled to find time to read. Every opportunity I had to dive into a book, I found myself getting distracted. My go-to reading time used to be my commute to the office and the small window of time right before I sleep, but for the first two months of the year, I rarely picked up my Kindle. Life gets in the way and my reading time got kicked to the curb.
So, in an effort to read more, I've implemented several new strategies that I found from various locations on the internet. Some of which have helped me, and I hope these strategies will help you read more too, if you are struggling like me.
Strategy 1: Incidental Reading
Incidental reading is just a fancy phrase that means "read wherever and whenever you can." This idea came from this YouTube video by Mark Manson. In the video, he encourages readers to take advantage of any free time to read, whether it's waiting in line, at the gym, or even in the bathroom.
It was so obvious and made perfect sense to me, but I'd never considered it because I always thought reading had to be done in a good chunk of time at home or in a quiet spot. Which is why I only read on long commutes and before bed.
But since knowing this, I now carry my Kindle everywhere I go and read whenever I have a moment to spare, even if it's only 5 minutes. This strategy has been useful because it has replaced any mindless browsing on my phone and allowed me to get more reading done.
While this strategy is good for most books, it doesn't work very well for drier and heavier books that require more concentration and focus. You sometimes just need more energy/attention and a good environment to read heavier and drier books, which brings me to my next strategy.
Strategy 2: Dedicated Reading Sessions
To read denser/drier books, I still find it best to have dedicated reading sessions. This usually involves setting aside a chunk of time to read in a comfortable environment. I normally schedule one-hour sessions in my calendar when I need a reading session. Sessions could range from as short as 30 minutes to as long as 3 hours, whichever feels doable for you.
Dedicated reading sessions work best for me when it comes to non-fiction books. They help me focus and absorb more information. For fiction books, these sessions also enhance the immersion into the story's environment.
It can also help to have rituals/routines before each session to get you in the reading mood. This could be making a cup of coffee/tea or reading in your favourite spot in your house/café.
Strategy 3: Reading multiple books.
A complementary strategy to the previous two is reading multiple books at the same time. Regardless of how good a book is, I still want a break from the book but not from reading itself. Reading multiple books allows me to do that.
Moreover, reading multiple books simultaneously can help you better remember their contents. Alternating between different books is actually a learning strategy called interleaving. You can read more about interleaving here .
Strategy 4: Be Picky
In the same YouTube video, Mark mentions the importance of being selective about the content we read. His advice doesn't just apply to books, but also to chapters within books and to articles we find on the web.
Sometimes, I find myself dreading to read certain books because they are poorly written. I used to blame myself for not understanding the book, but I've come to realize that it's often a combination of bad writing and my own lack of understanding of the subject matter.
With Mark's advice in mind, I've started to pick specific chapters to read, instead of trying to read an entire bad book. However, if a book has been recommended by multiple people I trust, I'll dedicate a reading session to it because I believe it contains valuable information that I just need to work harder to understand.
This strategy is all about being more selective with the text we consume, rather than defaulting to blaming ourselves or the book for any difficulties we encounter. It's also about saving our time and effort, instead of trying to push through poorly written text.
Here are some other tips I picked up along the way to help me read better and faster
- Use your finger to read (helps you focus and read a bit faster even though it looks weird)
- Highlight only after every chapter / chunk (this helps prevent over highlighting and serves as a mini recap)
- If a book is very dry but you want to read it, try listening to the audiobook on 1.5x speed whilst reading to concentrate better.
Have a great weekend.
I'll see you in the next one.
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