Back in high school, right after lunch and during form class check-ins, we were forced to read at least 10 minutes every day. It was a school wide policy to lift comprehension and literacy skills. Everyone had to do it. At precisely 1:30pm, the school would be completely silent as everyone — teachers included — did their daily minimum of 10 minutes.
It would take approximately 2–3 weeks to finish a book as a result of those minimum ten minutes. In a school term, everyone would have read at least 4 to 7 books. That’s 16 to 28 books in a year.
10 minutes doesn’t sound like much and it isn’t. And it was in those 10 minutes each day that introduced me to novels and worlds, ideas and stories that helped shape my mind.
Why ultra successful people read
Warren Buffet takes the habit of reading to the extreme with 600 to 1000 pages per day when he was just starting out in his investing career. Elon Musk learnt to build rockets from books while Mark Zuckerberg’s 2015 resolution was to read a book every 2 weeks. Oprah Winfrey has a book club while Bill Gates reads about 50 books per year.
The ultra successful see books as a gateway to learning and knowledge. They are selective of what they read — each book being a personal mentor to them.
Apart from getting rich, reading has also been shown reduce stress, increase creativity and make you happier. It can give you a refreshed perspective on life and renew your understanding of the world.
#1: To finish a book, you actually need a book
If we observe our own behaviors, we often jump straight to social media simply because it is highly accessible. We carry our phones with us everywhere nowadays, to a point where companies are creating virtual wallets for it.
We don’t read as much as we want to because we don’t actually carry a book around with us. Not really. But to read and finish a book, you actually need a book.
So, first tip for reading more books in a year — have a book with you.
Lets say you’re now carrying a book around with you. But there’s always your phone beckoning for your attention. The first thing you’ll need to do is disconnect.
Everything is on your phone. Your texts, music, pictures, internet connection — but mainly your internet connection. If you run out of data and become disconnected, there’s a high chance that your phone usage will decrease dramatically, unless you’ve got offline music and games of course.
We often find pockets of time to go on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram and every other social media platform under the sun, but never the time to read.
Your phone is your biggest enemy when it comes to completing books. It probably has something to do with the chillaxing thrill of aimlessly scrolling through your feeds. It’s addictive and highly time consuming.
Second tip for reading more books in a year — get off the internet or turn off your phone completely.
#3: Read purposefully
It helps to have a book on a topic you’re interested in. Fiction or non-fiction — that is completely up to you.
There will be books where you start and know right away that you’ve made a mistake. It’s ok. We all make book mistakes every now and then. If you can’t make it past two chapters, it’s ok to give up and move onto another book. Bad books do exist.
Find a book can take up your full attention in the moments where you do decide to read. Reading should be a pleasurable task that takes you to special places and spaces.
When you make the conscious effort read, the material you’re reading should also reward you in return.
Third tip for reading more books in a year — give a book a chance but read what you actually enjoy.
#4: Find and make time
To finish books, you need to actually read them.
There are pockets of time everywhere in our day — the morning and home commute, waiting for your bus, train or ferry, that 10 minutes before you have to head out, right before bed, waiting for dinner to cook in the oven, 10 minutes before you start your favorite tv show after work and during breakfast are just a few examples.
If you have time to scroll through social media or do other leisurely tasks, you have time to read, even if it’s just a few pages a time. Slip the act of reading in here and there and you’ll start to see the difference in how much you’ve managed to read in a week.
Fourth tip — consistently make time to read, even if it’s just a little bit at a time. Little pockets and snippets of time will eventually add up to a finished book.
#5: Consistency is achievable in routines
We are creatures of habit and routines. We wake up at a certain time. We sleep at a certain time. We fill our days and go about our lives with motions and actions that are repetitive in nature.
It is how many of us operate our lives.
To read more books, you need to add reading into your daily rituals by modifying the ones you already have. Something has to be reduced, even if by a little bit, so that you can slot in some reading time.
Look at what you do daily and see which one you can spare for 10 or 15 minutes less of. 3 lots of 10 minutes can add up to many pages and even chapters throughout the day. All you need is consistency of consumption.
Fifth tip — read often. Even if it’s a little a time. You just need to do it and eventually you’ll finish the book.
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52 books may seem like a lot of books but it isn’t, not if you’re churning through one book a week. Even if you don’t make it to the 52, injecting a little reading into your day can help improve your life in ways that technology cannot.
Books are a goldmine of ideas and experiences. The more you read, the more you are opening yourself up to new worlds and windows of possible opportunities.