Transform Your Reading Productivity
The way your organise your process of reading books is critical to getting more out of them. For those of us who get through lots of books, it seems to be a never ending process: you have stacks of books next to your bed, rows of books neatly lined on your shelves, and no doubt more books scattered around the rest of your house waiting to be read. Some of these poor paper friends wait ambandoned for months or years for some charitable reader to adopt them and reveal the secrets they hide.
There are times throughout the year where we will just go into a bookstore and end up acquire even more books, without considering the stacks of literature we have waiting for us at home.
It's therefore very important you have a way of prioritising certain books and making clear decisions about what you should read next.
To determine whether or not you are an organised reader or improvised reader, we must begin by identifying the traits of these two types of readers.
The improvised type of readers is typical of those individuals who treat books as something sacred and with their own soul. They believe that reading is something that shouldn't be meticulously planned in advance. They will usually tell you things like "I read for pleasure and read what I want and when I feel like it".
The organised reader is more practical, and seeks the most efficient method to read more in less time and will usually turn to a wider range of genres if possible. Typical phrases used by this type of reader include "I need to read more pages so I can achieve my goal" or "I can't stop buying books and this is just another book to add to my overflowing shelves".
I'm sure you can picture both types of readers! But, like with so many other things where nothing is black or white, it seems that the most reasonable approach seems to be halfway between the two previous points of view. Enjoying books and mixing things up as you go along is not contradictory to creating a bit of order to your reading habits and making intelligent selections of the books you seek to devour in the coming months.
My personal preference is to lean towards spending more time planning and organising the books I read. The main reason for this is because the number of pages we can read in our lives is limited, and there isn't (in the great scheme of things) that many books we could finish before saying goodbye to the world!
People often boast about having thousands of books stored in their eBook or on their shelves at home, but they've probably not even got through a small fraction of the content. Let's say a person reads a book a month, which is approximately 12 books a year, in 50 years they will have only managed to finish 600 books in total! With these sorts of numbers, there is no doubt that you have to be a little more selective about what you read.
For those who are looking to get a little bit more out of their reading, why not check out my Reading Masterclass on Skillshare (it's free!)
Every year I make a list of the books that I want to read for the following year, which simply serves as a reference and obviously changes throughout the year as interesting books come to my attention. However, creating an initial list of books you desire to read often helps to avoid making impulse purchases of books you don't really need. Additionally, creating a list helps you to incorporate books you already own, helping you to save money and benefit from the great works on your shelves.
But as I say, there is nothing wrong with going off the script! Just ensure that if you do decide to choose another book that isn't on the list, ask yourself "is this book really so urgent?". If it isn't, then slot it at the end of your list and forget about it
Whatever method you choose, rules are meant to be broken and reading is meant to be enjoyed, so as long as you find the balance between improvisation and organisation you will be good to go!
Once you have prepared your list of reading, a good habit is to share it with at least one of your friends or family members. You could do this using a word document, email, WhatsApp or just a piece of paper; it doesn't matter! Although reading is a fairly personal pursuit, sharing our list of books with other people is highly recommended (I will try to do the same at the end of the year!). That was they can help keep you accountable and offer encouragement when you're finding it difficult.
In addition, social networking sites make this a lot easier. We can quickly publish our list on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, which instantly offers public accountability. Furthermore, many writers are on social media and engage with their readers, which can offer you further insights and inspiration along the way.
Everything is a matter of habit. And with reading it is especially so. Some people take advantage of their weekends to do reading marathons. Others give themselves 10 or 20 minutes before they go to sleep to engage in some light reading. Either way, I am not here to undo the habits of good readers!
However, I strongly believe in the power of consistent reading, usually daily, at at a fixed time. For those of you who do not have a highly developed reading habit, this made be the best way to begin. After all, nobody can say they don't have at least 5 minutes a day for reading. If you do believe you are too busy, I'm sure you could cut out social media, TV, or aimlessly browsing the Internet.
Not only that, just take a moment to think about the time you waste going about a normal routine which isn't purely downtime: taking public transport, waiting for a doctor's appointment, queuing up for something, etc. All of these times are opportunities to read a few more pages and make an unproductive moment productive!
Some people read for pleasure, others to learn, and sometimes we read simply out of necessity. The important thing is that you must find your personal motivation to open a book!
Many associate reading with devouring the latest "best-selling" novel. However, there are many other genres that are usually not discussed that often, which you may feel more comfortable reading e.g. poetry, theater, crime novels, horror, historical and adventure novels, science fiction, fantasy, romance novels, art books, music, history, politics, popular science, business, computing, gastronomy, health and sports, etc. Keep your options open and find what appeals to you!
It could well be possible that in your current circle of friends or family that you don't get much exposure to other types of reading. This is where the Internet can really help out. For example, the social network Goodreads is a community of avid readers from across the world, who share their reading tastes, post about different books and critique them. You could even browse books by different categories, allowing you to quickly check popular books and see if they appeal to you. If they do, you can save the books directly on the site itself!
Goodreads also offers the option to join a reading challenge, which 'gamifies' the reading process for those of you who particularly struggle!.
Let's go back to the numbers. If an adult is able to read an average of 250 words per minute, and we assume that a single page contains that approximate number of words, you can read about 30 pages in 30 minutes. I strongly believe half an hour of reading is a reasonable daily goal for all of us, even if we split it into 10 minute chunks 3 times throughout the day.
If you keep this up, you should have read approximately 900 pages throughout the month, which is easily 2 or 3 books in total. So, even if you slip up on a couple of days, you could instantly double the number of books you read each year! So please find another excuse other than "I don't have time" - it simply isn't true!