Americans read fewer and fewer books each year. Last year, a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts found that only 43% of U.S. adults read any type of literature not required for work or school--a percentage that is a three-decade low.
Apparently these statistics don't apply to the busiest and most successful people.
- Warren Buffet reads 500 pages a day
- Mark Cuban reads 3 hours a day
- Bill Gates reads 50 books a year
So how do they do this?
How The Busiest People Find Time to Read
Here are the secrets of some of the world's most successful leaders - and most voracious readers.
1. Warren Buffet
Someone once asked Buffet about keys to success, and he said "Read 500 pages every day. That's how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it."
How does he do it? It's a top priority. He still allots about 80% of his day to reading. It's no coincidence that Buffet's bank account is as robust as his reading habit.
Tom Corley is the author of "Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits Of Wealthy Individuals." He studied the daily activities of 233 rich people and 128 poor people over 5 years. He found that 67 percent of rich people watch TV less than one hour a day.
2. Mark Cuban
Mark Cuban reads about 3 hours a day because it gives him a level of comfort and confidence in his business. He shares that growing up, he read "every book or magazine I could get my hands on because 1 good idea would pay for the book and could make the difference between me making it or not."
"I feel like if I put in enough time consuming all the information available, particularly with the net making it so readily available, I can get an advantage in any technology business," he explains.
3. Bill Gates
The richest man in the world reads 50 books a year.
Gates shares that while he can travel anywhere and meet with anyone, reading is still the main way that he learns new things and tests his understanding. He always has a book with him wherever he goes.
4. Elon Musk
Elon Musk taught himself to build rockets by reading. The costs to build a rocket were prohibitively high, so Musk concluded he could do it himself after reading how to do it. He was driven by a specific goal, and a desire to acquire specific knowledge. He didn't stop until he learned what he wanted to learn.
5. Tony Robbins
Robbins grew up with an alcoholic mother and various abusive fathers. He attributes books to saving his life, and shaping him into the leader he is today.
Reading sparked a passion inside of him. "I took a speed-reading course and read 700 books in seven years--all on psychology, physiology, anything that could make a difference in life."
Reading Like a Leader
Here are 5 ways you can make reading one of your daily habits.
1. Go to the library
Libraries are making a comeback--Millennials are more likely to use public libraries than any GenX or Baby Boomers. Frequenting your local library is an inexpensive way to gain access to thousands of books.
2. Set a timer
Whether reading for 30 minutes or 3 hours, it's always best to set a timer. That way, you can focus on devoting the entire time, free of interruptions, to reading. It's a simple way to boost productivity because they essentially force commitment once set.
3. Make books easily accessible
If you're a road warrior, listen to books via podcasts or a service such as Audible. If you have a lot of downtime between appointments, carry a book with you. If you prefer online reading, take advantage of your e-readers.
4. Read before bed
Research shows that you absorb more information right before bed, and reading helps you sleep better. Also, reading at the same time everyday makes it easier to form a consistent routine.
5. Give it three chapters.
Give every book you read a chance but move on to another book if it's not working for you.
Successful people are selective about what they read, electing to read educational books and publications over entertaining literature. They also tend to fixate on reading about other successful people and their stories.
Perhaps the successes of others is enough to jump-start your lifelong reading habit. Good luck!