I've always enjoyed reading. But, to be perfectly honest, I didn't used to read as much as I should have. Besides being a great way to escape and unwind, reading increases your knowledge, focus, and worldview as a business owner.
It also gives you something interesting to talk about when you're networking. In short, reading is beneficial in both your personal and professional lives.
But, that's not the concern. The biggest problem is actually finding time to read more books. I was able to accomplish this by using the following 25 tricks.
1. Don't make towering reading goals.
If you're not a voracious reader then don't commit yourself to reading more books than you can handle. In other words, don't set lofty goals goals that you probably can't achieve.
Start by setting a reading goal that is easily attainable - such as reading just one book per month or 20 pages a day. If you're already breezing through a book a month then jump up to two. When you're not over-committing, you'll find that the reading experience is less stressful and more enjoyable. I've found a really interesting thing. If your reading is not stressful, you will be able to concentrate and read really fast.
2. Keep your goals to yourself
Now that you have set a reading goal make sure that you keep it to yourself. A 2009 study found that students who wrote down the activities that it would take for them to become psychologists were less likely to succeed. And they were only sharing those activities and goals with the experimenter. Who do you share your goals with?
The control group who did not share these goals with the experimenter actually spent more time pursuing those activities.
The reason? Whenever a goal is shared there's less motivation for you to work hard in achieving that intended goal. So if you want to read two books per month keep that goal to yourself.
3. Quit early.
I'm sure you've been halfway through a book and asked yourself, "Why am I reading this?" Don't worry. It happens to the best of us. But instead of trying to power through a book that you're not enjoying or finding useful you should just put it down and start reading something else.
Gretchen Rubin, author of bestselling book The Happiness Project has found that the "winners don't quit" mentality isn't an effective mentality when it comes to reading. Rubin explains that quitting early gives you "More time for reading good books! Less time reading books out of a sense of obligation."
4. Read books that you actually enjoy.
This piggybacks on the previous point. But when you read books that you actually want to read, you'll find it more difficult to put it down. For example, I'm a big Stephen King fan. Is reading the Dark Tower series going to make me a better entrepreneur or father? No. But, I enjoy reading and become so immersed that I have to keep reading.
Wait a minute. Who can actually judge whether reading the Dark Tower series helps me or not. Maybe it does make me a better entrepreneur. Stay tuned for later comments about that.
At the same time, I also mix it-up -- not just Stevie-boy King for me. I will read biographies or books focused on leadership. Even though they may help me professionally, I still enjoy reading them.
5. Always have a book on-hand.
You will always have an opportunity to read. You'll read on your morning commute (well, iBook if you are driving). There is time when waiting at the doctor's office, or wasting a couple of minutes before a meeting or conference call.
I find I can bear the line at the grocery store much better with a book, while the guy at checkout looks for his card. Instead of letting this time go unused, pick-up a book and start reading.
The only way you can take advantage of short minutes is if you have a book on hand. That's why I always carry a book with me. And, thanks to gadgets like Kindle, this is even more convenient.
6. Borrow reading time from something less important.
I got it. The thought of reading for two or three hours a day may seem like a serious time commitment But if you borrow time from something else you'll realize that it's really pretty easy to devote more time to reading.
For example, do you know that the average American spends five hours every day watching TV? If you fall into that category, then reduce your TV watching to two hours per day and spend the other three hours reading. Try reading first, then TV, the other way around doesn't work quite as well.
7. Partake in reading challenges.
This is an excellent way to encourage you to read more books because it's fun and interactive. For example, Goodreads has an annual challenge reading that gamifies your reading goal. You can also discover new books to read by seeing what your friends have read.
You can find a list of reading challenges compiled by Book Riot.
8. Create a distraction-free reading environment.
Some distractions you can't avoid, like when your Amazon Prime delivery gets dropped off and your dog goes nuts. But there are plenty of other distractions that you do have control over.
Start by reading in a room that is quiet and doesn't have temptations like a TV. You could also turn your phone on silent or airplane mood for a certain amount of time.
9. Stock up.
Instead of dropping $200 or $300 on clothes or junk that you don't really need when you have some extra cash, build-up an inventory of books.
It may sound ridiculous at first, but it's one of the best motivations to read more because once you finish a book you can view your inventory and decide what to read next.
10. Use technology to your advantage.
Personally, I love physical books. Nothing beats the smell and texture of an actual book in your hands. And studies have found that reading print leads to better comprehension and retention compared to computer screens.
But, sometimes carrying a book around isn't easy or convenient. Today you can read a book on your iPad or Kindle while traveling. Even listening to an audiobook through Audible or iBook, whatever, while working out.
In short, using technology gives you more opportunities to digest even more books throughout the year.
11. Change your mindset.
"The key to reading lots of book begins with stop thinking of it as some activity that you do," writes Media strategist and author Ryan Holiday. "Reading must become as natural as eating and breathing to you. It's not something you do because you feel like it, but because it's a reflex, a default."
This applies more to reading newspapers, magazines, or online content, but when it comes to reading for leisure don't be afraid to skim books. It helps you get through the book faster so that you can move on to the next one.
13. Read multiple books.
This strategy may not work for everyone, but I have several different books in different locations. Locations include in my bedroom, another downstairs on my iPad, and another on my phone for when I'm driving. I always have a book on-hand.
Having a variety of books to read at once is challenging and keeps me from getting bored. It also helps to mix up the multiple books that you're reading. It might be a Stephen King novel, but also a biography on an entrepreneur like Elon Musk.
14. Keep your eyes open.
I'm always on the lookout for new books to read. The bookstore always has suggestions, browsing best seller lists online. I usually find the best reads while looking for suggestions from blog posts or friends.
When I come across a new book that looks interesting I write it down either in my notebook or on Evernote so that I won't forget about it.
15. Commit to reading when traveling or before bed.
Traveling is the best time to read. Think about all the free time that you have while waiting to catch your flight and while you're in-air. You may actually be able to finish an entire book while traveling. Note: make sure to download the full book before you leave. Besides, you don't have to worry about turning off your device or paying for Wifi.
When you don't travel, make it a point to read right before you go to bed. Use this choice as opposed to watching TV or browsing your social channels. Not only will you read more, you'll also sleep better.
16. Eliminate decision fatigue.
Yes. Decision fatigue is an actual thing that can prevent you from being productive and adopting habits like reading.
Instead of aimlessly searching for thousands and thousands of new book releases, search for curated lists. Entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg put out pretty good reading lists. Any list helps to eliminate decision fatigue and gives you more reading time.
17. Settle down.
When you're mind is preoccupied and racing-a-mile-a-minute it's challenging to sit down and actually enjoy a book. After all, you have deadlines to meet, clients to invoice, or dishes to clean. I try to complete these nagging tasks prior to reading so that they're not bothering me. I've also found that exercising and meditating definitely help put my mind at ease.
18. Share what you read.
Remember, don't share your reading goals. But definitely share the books that you've read. It becomes a part of the entire reading process since I'm passing along the information or insights that I've just read. As an added perk, I get new recommendations from people. Someone will say, "Well if you liked that, then you should check out this book next."
19. Have your next book on stand-by.
Throughout this article I've shared some tips on building an inventory of future books in order to eliminate decision fatigue. But, you're probably still left with of dozens of books to choose from.
Whenever I'm about to finish a book I take a couple of minutes and select the next book to read. I then jump from one book into another immediately.
20. Set a dedicated reading time.
This helps make reading a habit. For me, I always set aside 20-30 minutes in the morning before everyone wakes-up. This prevents distractions. The 20-30 minutes before I go to bed are my most favorite moments.
I read more throughout the day, but since some days are more hectic than others, that's not always guaranteed. Having dedicated reading times at least ensures that I'm reading around at least an hour every day.
21. Buy books that are on sale.
If you're on a budget, or are frugal, then check out books that are on sale. I used to this when I would visit bookstores. I would walk in with the intention of buying a specific book. Then I'd leave with a stack of books that piqued my interest because they were on sale.
Now you can easily browse used books or sale items on Amazon. It's a cost-effective way to build a little library of your own.
Did you also know that you can get books for free too? Besides your public library, you can snag some free books by entering giveaways. Check Goodreads, swap books on Paperback Swap, and browse a public domain of ebooks and audiobook on Project Gutenberg.
22. Join a book club.
Joining a book club is another way to motivate you into reading more. You'll get top notch recommendations and a community to discuss and share your thoughts. I've found some of my best reads with book clubs. It forces me to consider titles I would never read in a hundred years. Some of these have ended up being a fav.
You can Google for book clubs that are near you. Digital book clubs work pretty well. Check out, Oprah's Book Club 2.0, Wired Book Club, Our Shared Shelf, Andrew Luck Book Club, Read with Entrepreneurs, or the Money Book Club.
23. Hijack your Facebook habit.
"Bad habits are hard to break. But, you can hijack your habits to turn those bad habits into good ones" writes Design for Hackers author David Kadavy. "Habits begin with a Trigger, which then leads to an Action, which then leads to a Reward. Over time, you build your Investment. The cycle repeats."
In this case, you can replace your bad Facebook habit and turn it into a good reading habit, in the words of Kadavy try these:
1. Reduce friction. For this particular habit, there's something that blocks you from enjoying books the way you read Facebook. Opening a book feels like a big commitment. You can talk yourself out of it if you only have a few minutes to spare. So, you need to give yourself permission to read tiny chunks of books.
2. Hijack your Trigger. Every time you feel your Facebook Trigger, instead of reaching for your mobile device, grab a book. It's best if it's a physical book at first, because a mobile device is too tempting. If you have to use a mobile, rearrange your icons so Facebook is hidden, and Kindle is prominent.
3. Replace your Action. Now, read the book! To start, just pick a page in the book and start reading. Remember, you have to eliminate any friction that makes you think a book is too big of an investment.
Daily Rituals is a good book to start with, because it has lots of small sections. Dangerous Liaisons, if you prefer fiction.
24. Read in sprints.
There are some days when my attention isn't the best. When I have one of those days I set a timer for 20-minutes and then read in 20-minute sprints. Reading in a 20-minute sprint prevents my mind from wandering and is short-enough that I won't get burnt out.
25. Take notes, read aloud, or mouth along.
This may annoy others in a public setting, but these hacks can help you better understand the author's message. Speaking aloud develops new conclusions, and increases everything from concentration, focus, and retention.
Whether you jot down notes in the book margins, or on a Post-it and mouth along while on the plane, don't be embarrassed. This is still going to improve your literacy skills, which in turn will make you a lean, mean reading machine.
What tricks have you used to read more books in a year?