So, you would like to read more, but don’t know how to find the time? Or you have to read a lot for your studies and would like to read faster? Or you would like to learn more, but don’t know whether you really like to read that much?
There’s a fix for all of you. My tips thererfore fall into three categories: a) Finding time to read. b) Getting into the habit of reading. and c) Reading more intelligently. For those who love to read, have the time, know what to read but just need techniques to do it faster, there are many resources available out there. Just pick a book on speed-reading and go for it. Just remember that it is not about how many books you consume but what you take away from it.
How to make time for reading
- The easiest way to find time for reading is to use public transport. You are doomed to sitting anyway, so why not use the time to read something? If you can’t focus in public or don’t want to switch from bike / car / hiking to tube and bus, try audio books.
- Read first thing in the morning. Before you get up, read a chapter or a paragraph. Put the book on your bedside table so you have it right where you need it.
- Read last thing at night. The above applies.
- Read when you are waiting for an appointment. No, not your twitter-feed, but an actual book! Get into the habit of carrying a book or magazine with you (see below).
- Switch off TV, internet and smartphone. It’s healthier anyway. Find out how much time you have when you limit media to a minimum. Go one week without TV and online-videos, and you will never again have the problem of ‘finding time’.
- Put a book on your coffee table and read during commercial breaks.
- Read on the loo. Seriously. Put magazines and some funny stuff into the bathroom.
- Take a bath. And read a chapter in the tub before you start your cleansing procedure.
- Teach your family that you have ‘me-time’. Take a break after lunch, get on the sofa and read for half an hour. No, they won’t kill each other if you don’t look after them for a few minutes.
- Read to your children. Let your kids grow up knowing that reading is fun.
- Read to your partner. Yes, THAT kind of stories.
- Dedicate some of your working hours (even if it’s only 10 or 20 minutes a week to start with) to learning and development, and use the time to read. Your boss should be happy if you become better at what you do. And if you’re unemployed, it’s even more crucial that you stay up to date with your knowledge and use the time for personal development. Not only will it prevent depression when you feel like you can make use of the unwanted spare time, you will also find new confidence in interviews when you don’t feel like you wasted 6 months.
How to get into the habit of reading
- Just read. Everything. Don’t wait for books. Read signs and ads. Read the ingredients of food you buy or cosmetics you use. Not to understand what’s written there (although it might change your buying behaviour massively), but to get used to reading.
- Carry a book or magazine wherever you go, so if you have a few minutes you can spend them reading.
- Start where you are. If you didn’t read much in the past, don’t start with the 1200 pages of ‘Gone with the wind’. Read something related to your hobby or job. Or read something about the subject you wanted to study if you were smarter / braver / younger. Read a magazine on the topic instead of a book. Make it easy for you to start.
- It is perfectly fine to read ‘simple’ literature like crime or romance. There is absolutely no need to read all the great, classic literature if you don’t want to.
- Join a book club. Take a look at community centers, churches, the public library, educational facilities or meetup.
- Set up your own bookclub. Existing clubs can be intimidating, especially if you feel like you were ‘not educated’ enough. You might not want to run into the person who considers herself a literature professor and compares everything against stuff you never heard of. It might be a good idea to meet with likeminded friends instead and start reading more together.
- Don’t let money be an issue. Swap books with and lend them from friends and family, join the public library, read in the corner of a bookstore, browse flea markets. How many books do you make in a week? I bet you spend more on food you throw away than you had to to read one book per week. When you are asked what you want as a birthday present, don’t say your usual, modest ‘nothing’; instead, ask for a book you would really love to read.
How to get through what you have to read
- Maybe the most obvious, but also most underrated advice is: Study a subject you are genuinely interested in. Something that excites you and makes you want to learn everything you can. I am always amazed at how many of my students in business administration never read a business magazine or at least watch the news regularly to learn what’s going on in the world of business. Don’t do that to yourself!
- You don’t have to read everything. Ask your lecturers for advice where to start. Ask them also: If I would read only one single book during the course of my whole study, which one would you suggest? Follow their advice.
- Pay attention to the curriculum. Textbooks normally cover much more content than is required for your module. Compare the content of the book to the syllabus of your module and read the relevant chapters only.
- Read the introduction. Many people tend to skip summaries and intros, but that’s where you learn which are the relevant chapters. Most authors give an overview of their findings here. You normally don’t need methodology (unless, of course, you have to discuss methodology in a thesis). You want to read what is the problem and how to solve it. You might not need how the author found the solution. When I am really short of time, I read the first and the last chapter.
- Don’t read texts word by word. Are you one of those people who move their lips or speak the words silently in their mind while reading? Then you limit your reading speed down to your talking speed. It is unnecessary to process every word consciously. You know those tests where the letters are mixed up and you can still read the words? That’s how the brain works, it brings order into chaos. Skip words, read every third word only, expand the gap, so that you read only the first and last word of a sentence. Try whether your get the basic concept of a text by reading only first and last sentence of a paragraph. If not, slow down.
What do you do to read more? I’d love to hear your ideas.