5 Ways to Get Good Reading Habits (& WHY)
Reading is one of those tasks that frequently falls to the bottom of the ‘to-do’ pile.
In this post, I’m going to share with you why you need to develop good reading habits along with 5 simple ways that will help you do just that.
Why you need to develop good reading habits
Before we get into the ways that will help you build good reading habits, I want to share with you the reasons why I am trying to encourage you to read more.
To help me do this, I’m going to quote some very famous and successful people.
The first quote is from Warren Buffett.
When he was asked what his key to success was, he pointed to a bookshelf and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”
Second, when Elon Musk was asked how he learned to build rockets, he said:
“I read books.”
And they’re not the only ones out there…
Bill Gates reads around 1 book every week – totaling over 50 books per year.
Mark Cuban will read for more than 3 hours every day, and billionaire Charlie Munger was quoted saying, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time. None. Zero. My children laugh at me, they think I’m a book with a couple of legs sticking out.”
It’s important to point out that these people are reading a certain type of book.
They’re not reading fiction books, Harry Potter, Fifty Shades of Grey, comics etc. They’re reading non-fiction books in the area of expertise that they want to learn more about. Usually, this would be business, marketing, entrepreneurship, investments, and personal development.
Successful people are avid readers and are constantly trying to learn how to improve themselves. Therefore, try not to think of reading as a chore, but instead a simple and effective way to invest in yourself.
Here are 5 ways to get yourself going.
5 Ways to Get Good Reading Habits
#1 – Read EVERY day
..and yes, I mean every day.
Even if it’s just one page.
You simply need to get into the habit of opening up a book and reading something every single day.
The hardest part is getting going, but once you start reading, it becomes a lot easier to continue.
When I was researching for this post, I noticed a few others suggesting that you start with 10-20 pages per day. However, if you are not a natural reader and you are starting from scratch, then I wouldn’t recommend this.
Instead, pick a small number of pages that you can easily read every single day – even if it is just one page.
By giving yourself a small target you are setting yourself up for success. These quick and easy wins will make you feel good about yourself each time you check it off your list, therefore, making it much easier to continue and to build upon.
This, in my opinion, is the best way to start.
Once you’re in the habit of opening a book every day, you can slowly increase the page count.
But for this first step, just concentrate on getting started.
#2 – Schedule time to read
The same as you would schedule a meeting, you need to schedule a time to read.
Don’t just go through your day thinking that you’ll fit it in somewhere because the chances are that you won’t. Your other tasks will take over and your attention will be pulled in several other different directions thanks to email, social media, colleagues and general life going on around you.
And if possible, try not to schedule your reading time just before going to sleep.
I’m a little bit hypocritical here because I frequently go to bed to read, but it is a lot harder to motivate yourself this way.
If you’ve had a busy day – maybe it was long and stressful – as soon as you climb into bed your body is winding down and is getting ready to switch off. At this point it becomes very hard to commit to reading and for you to maintain concentration. The urge to turn off the light and go straight to sleep can sometimes be too much to combat.
Because of this, I do try to avoid bedtime reading and instead aim to do it in the afternoon after lunch.
Ideally, you want to be reading in the morning or early afternoon depending on what works best for you when taking into account your daily work and life commitments. It’s going to be easier for you to maintain concentration and to drum up the motivation needed in the first half of the day compared to the second half of the day.
To start with, you don’t need to schedule hours, just enough time for you to read the number of pages that you committed to in the first step.
#3 – Accountability
To help make sure that you stick to your reading commitments and achieve what you set out to do, you need to be held accountable.
This could be done in various ways.
You could join a book club, and although most of these tend to be for fiction readers, you will find various business and personal development book clubs online that you can join and take part in.
Another way is to recruit a friend. They can either read with you (if they are interested in developing their own reading habits in a similar area of expertise) or you can simply ask them to make sure that you finish a book by the end of the month and instruct them to hold you accountable for it.
The way that I hold myself accountable is via this blog and my YouTube channel. By committing myself to review books, I have to read books. So in order for me to produce a steady stream of content, I need to be continually reading.
It doesn’t matter how you do it, you just need to find a way to make sure it gets done.
#4 – Get excited about reading
I know that this step can be difficult, especially if you are not a natural reader, but reading every day will be so much easier if you can get excited about it and look forward to it.
All these activities will engage your interest in books and you’ll look forward to buying them, to have them arriving in the post, and eventually, being able to read them.
Create yourself a reading list. You may want to read 1 book every month, therefore pick 12 books and set yourself that goal.
I have an Amazon Wish List specifically for books. Whenever a book pops up on Instagram or in any other social feed that tickles my fancy, I quickly open Amazon, find the book and add it to my list. When I need a new haul of books, I simply visit my wish list and see all the books that I was previously excited about and I can get excited about them all over again.
It’s much easier to open a book if you’re looking forward to reading it.
#5 – Do not be afraid to DNF a book
(DNF = Did Not Finish)
This is probably my most important point and one that is often missed out on other posts.
Quite simply, do not be afraid to stop reading a book.
If you are finding a particular book boring, unengaging, or a chore to read, then put it down and move onto something else.
I read stuff all the time, and once you get to a book that you just can’t get into, there’s nothing worse. Having to open that same book every day starts to become something that you dread and you can’t wait to get it over and done with.
In these instances, it sucks all the fun out of it and you end up getting zero value from reading. You’ll read five pages and it will feel as though you’ve been sat there for two hours banging your head against a brick wall.
Instead, respect your time and invest it into a book that is going to give you value and that you are going to enjoy reading. As soon as you read something that is engaging and interesting, you’ll fly through 60 pages in no time flat!
It’s not your fault if you do not finish a book. It’s the author’s job to make sure that we want to read their books and that we get value from them – not the other way around. So do not be discouraged if you can’t finish a book, just move onto a book that you can finish.
There is an undeniable link between those that continually invest in themselves through reading and those that are successful.
To help develop good reading habits, use my five simple ways as set out above.
If you would add any other hints or tips to the list, let me know in the comments below.