Although I hadn’t been a heavy reader until I stopped drinking, my reading habits have picked up every year since. Over the past few years I’ve gone from reading a book a month, to two books a month, and I just set my own personal record by finishing seven books already this month.
As I was knocking out the last two books, it started to really hit me that there was something different about what I was doing that allowed me to read so many more books than usual. So for everyone out there that is looking to increase their reading output, I want to share a five simple tricks that will allow you to read faster and finish more books.
1. Keep Records
I have a few pieces of paper on my office wall across from my desk that I use to keep track of all the books I’ve read since 2014. On the list is the book title, author, and the date I finished reading it. The reason I keep the ending date is so that I will be able to track how long it takes me to read certain books. Since all books aren’t equal in writing style, content, or length, the time it takes to read them will be different. What’s important is having a way to track your progress. Without that, you won’t even notice the periods where you’re not reading at all, nor will you be able to give yourself proper credit for your times of high output. Plus, being able to look back on all the books you’ve read will inspire you to read more.
2. Make The Time
For most people who don’t read a lot, their excuse is that they don’t have the time. They have a million other more pressing things to do, and by the time they’re done with those things reading is the farthest thing from their minds. Unfortunately, everybody is in the same situation. None of us have the time! However, reading isn’t something you have the time for, reading is something you make the time for. It’s up to you to make the time to read; to find a time of day when you prioritize reading and self-development above all other things. Schedules don’t just open up without our doing–we have to make them open up.
That said, the hardest part of creating a regular reading habit is making the time. Once you make the time, it gets easier and easier. I have 1-2pm from Monday through Friday set aside for reading. But that doesn’t mean I read at that exact time for that exact amount of time every day. Some days I end up reading later on and on super-busy days I may not get to read at all. But just having it formally written on the schedule sets me up to start forming a consistent reading habit.
3. Put it On a Timer
Once you make the time to read, you will be faced with interruptions from everywhere; your phone, apps, your family, the internet, your pet, and your friends. If you let these distractions pull you away, you will never finish your reading for the day. My solution to this is to use the stopwatch app on my iPhone. Once I start reading, I start the stopwatch app. Anytime I’m distracted, I pause the stopwatch app. When I pick back up, I resume the stopwatch app. This has helped me track how much of that hour I’m actually reading, as opposed to fooling around with other stuff like making a sandwich or answering a quick e-mail.
Using a timer has helped me realize that the biggest thing slowing me down was distractions during my reading time. I noticed that there were times when I set aside two hours to read but was only reading 30 total minutes out of that due to all the distractions. It also ensures that you will get a specific amount of dedicated reading time in, and not just sit there in front of a book daydreaming.
4. Combine Mediums
The big reason I was about to read seven books this month was because for the first time ever I combined mediums. Four of the books were paperback and the other three were audio.
I finished the majority of one Audiobook while driving to see my family in Cleveland, which is about two hours away.
Instead of listening to music while doing busywork in the office for several hours at a time, I would listen to an audiobook for one of those hours every day. This allowed me to absorb and learn the material when I was doing mundane tasks that didn’t compete with the book’s content.
5. Phone Reading
I’ve owned a Kindle for many years, but stopped using it a few years ago because I had grown tired of carrying an additional gadget around. This is easy at home, but much more difficult when you travel as much as I do. The kindle, for me at least, had become one more gadget I had to worry about being stolen, left behind, or charged at night. It was too much.
I decided to revisit the kindle app on the iPhone, which wasn’t that great several years ago, and was shocked at how well it worked. This completely solved the problem of having to carry my kindle around since I could read any kindle book on my iPhone. The additional benefit of this is that having a book you want to read on your phone prevents you from wasting time on social media apps that don’t really give you anything back. My thought is that if you’re going to be looking at your phone anyway, you might as well feed your mind and learn something useful.
There you have it, five quick tips help you read faster and finish more books. Please share any you have in the comments.
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