I get asked all the time, “How do you make time to read so much?”
Or people say things like:
“I wish I enjoyed reading as much as you.”
“Any time I pick up a book, I fall asleep!”
I do enjoy the occasional dose of self-deprecating talk. I try not to take myself too seriously and I appreciate it when others don’t either.
My response to most of those questions is usually something along the lines of, “Well, I really enjoy reading. It is how I learn best. You don’t need to do exactly what I do. Find what works for you.” Reading can be enjoyed by all but it doesn’t have to be daunting or look the same for everyone.
Why I Enjoy Reading:
- Unique Ability. After a decade of self-work, I have determined that reading plays a big part in my unique ability. The thing I am uniquely gifted at above most of the population. I enjoy reading complex information, distilling it down to the major points and lessons, and then coming up with the framework to implement them. Doing that is energizing to me. My career is built around that. It is essentially my job.
- Progress creates joy. Making progress whether it is completing a big project, getting better at a task, or even finishing a book is rewarding. There is a primal part in all of us that is fulfilled by making progress towards something that is meaningful to us. Finishing a book gives me a personal victory and sense of progress. That is energizing to me.
Practical Habits That Work For Me:
- Read 10 pages per day: I typically do not read longer than 15 minutes in any single sitting. 10 pages is plenty. The average book is around 270 pages. If you only read 10 pages per day, you would burn through at least 1 book every month. This is a simple and easy habit. You can stay awake for 15 minutes.
- Cash In and Cash Out: I typically read more than one book at a time. That is because I keep my books at two places: My desk and my nightstand. They both serve different purposes. In the morning when I get to work, I “Cash In” for the day and read 10 pages of a business book. This is something that is improving my business knowledge and gives me a win to start my day. At night before bed, I use the other book on my nightstand to “Cash Out” before bed. The topics are usually lighter or spiritual to unwind at the end of the day.
- Use a Pen: When I read non-fiction books, I read with a pen in hand. I underline key points or great one liners and dog-ear the page to remember it. This forces you to read critically for understanding and gives you easy points to come back to remember and retain the information.
- Share What You Learn: Teaching what you learn is another way to deepen the understanding of any topic. It also makes you a lot more interesting and fun to talk to when you can talk about something other than the weather and ESPN. I personally take it a step further and write summaries of most books that I read. It helps me process what I learned and is a great way to share those lessons with others.
What if reading isn’t for me?
People learn in different ways. That is perfectly normal and okay. Don’t force a round peg into a square hole. Some people learn audibly, some learn by writing, some learn by being shown physically. Figure out how you learn and be okay with that.
Audio-Learners: Your car is your mobile library.
Do you commute to work every day? Don’t waste that time. It is the perfect time to listen to a good audiobook. I listen to books that are written in a story format. I don’t need to take note of specific steps or data. I only need to follow the stories. Those are perfect books to listen to.
Seminars: See the world. Meet experts. Learn from them.
I have been to dozens of seminars from Vancouver to Orlando and from Chicago to San Diego. It is a blast. You get to see interesting places, eat interesting food, and learn about something you are interested in from experts in the field. Find one that interests you and give it a try.
There are many ways to learn. Just take the time to understand how you best learn and do that more.
Making progress and learning makes you feel good, energized, and fulfilled. If you want to make progress reading:
- Read 10 pages per day
- Cash in with 1 book and cash out with another
- Use a pen or highlighter when reading nonfiction
- Share what you learn with others
If you want to make progress learning, you need to understand how you learn best and focus on that.