A Simple Trick How to Read More Books
Books are knowledge. News is noise. That's the main thing to remember not only as a motivation to read more books, but also as a manual on how.
Daily commute, eating out alone and time in bed before sleeping provide the best opportunities to read. But smartphone, which we always have in our pocket is the biggest generator of the noise. From your favorite news site to social media, it provides infinite resource of instant gratification of near zero value. Yes you can use the smartphone to read books as well, but you need to be disciplined to avoid distractions before (do I check out Facebook or news before I open the Kindle app?) or during the reading (notifications, side thoughts and temptation to deal with them immediately).
Which is why I always have Kindle with me. Not only is Kindle arguably more pleasant to read on, but it's dedicated to (mainly) one thing: books. It removes the requirement for that discipline of opening Kindle app when you pull the device out and of keeping the app open when your mind wonders off. When Kindle is turned on, it opens the book you read on a page you left it, so it reduces the decision making accompanied with turning the phone on (do I check out Facebook or news? Do I open this click-baiting link or that worthless news report about another useless politician?). And while decision fatigue/ego depletion phenomenon might have been debunked, I just find it painful to make decisions before I drink my bulletproof coffee in the office.
For those moments when your mind does wander off into something you might want to take care of later, it’s worth having a simple process ready to note it down to a place you trust you will find it later (GTD), so you can drop it from your mind immediately. In my case, Google Keep widget works wonders.
To maximize focus on reading, set a timer at least for the longest leg of your commute, so you don’t need to check if your station is coming, especially if you listen to music.
That's it. This simple trick will give you a good hour or two of reading even if you don't specifically dedicate any additional time at home. There are other techniques to increase efficiency and amount of reading, most prominently speed reading and audiobooks (which Martina wrote about here), so I figured I might address those too.
I don’t do speed reading and in fact I’ve never trained it mainly because as those who practice it admit, it’s exhausting and I really don’t intend to come to the office exhausted. I’m sure it’s useful for people who need to review long texts or books quickly, but that’s not really my case.
As for audiobooks, I tend to take a lot of notes and audio makes it difficult to not only highlight things, but especially syncing them into one place with Kindle (wink, wink Amazon). Plus I can hardly keep up with all the great podcasts out there.