My reading habits change depending on my lifestyle. In 2014, I read over 70 books. It was easy to find time to read. I was commuting every day, sometimes for over 2 hours a day.
At work, during lunchtime, I would open a book and read. I would PDF books that I was reading so that I could later read them on my work computer.
Last year, I lived in South America. I wasn’t commuting and I didn’t need to sit behind a desk, so I needed to carve out my own time to sit and read.
I did this a number of ways. And they all had to do with putting a cap on how much time I spent on my phone and laptop.
Reading can feel like work, especially for someone like me, who underlines phrases, circles new vocabulary words, writes notes in the ledgers so that I can remember things I read.
I approach reading as deep work, which means I give it my full attention. Naturally, I have days when I just can’t bring myself to pick up a book. I’d rather just be on my phone or on my computer, watching movies.
With that being the case, I knew I had to get rid of distractions:
- I stopped taking my phone to bed with me. The few hours between getting into bed and falling asleep are reserved for reading. I’ll leave my phone on my desk or in the bathroom, so that when it comes time to shut off the morning alarm I’m either already in front of the sink ready to wash up or up at my desk ready to start working.
- I stopped taking my phone to the bathroom. That’s right, I now take a book. Some people think it isn’t worthwhile to read for only 5 or 10 minutes because they feel that you cant get too deep into the reading in such a short time. But in that time you can read one or two pages, maybe more, and that’s still better than the one or two pages you didn’t read and wasted your time on social media instead.
- I stopped carrying my phone with me everywhere I go. This is a discipline thing. It’s a way for me to condition myself so that I don’t get distracted easily.
- My laptop is on an internet blocker most times. This also helps with not getting distracted easily. If I have something I need to look up, I make a note of it and then go back to it during a designated time. Mostly, I block sites like Youtube and all other forms of social media and news outlets.
- Likewise, I don’t take my laptop with me to bed. Indulging in shallow work is too tempting, browsing news and Youtube videos before sleep. It’s comforting in the short term, but you get nothing out of it later. I’ll read more than one book at a time. On nights when I’m feeling exhausted, I read less demanding books.
- I keep a collection of eBooks on my phone. This helps when I’m waiting for an order at a restaurant, waiting on line, waiting for the bus, basically on the go downtime.
That’s about all I can think of for now. Other habits include not bringing my headphones while commuting. I’ve found this makes it easier to commit to reading during that time.
I hope this helps. I’ll try and update the post with new techniques as I think of them. Please post your reading habits below, and share ways that help you stay disciplined.