Creating a reading habit

July 18, 21 | Hacks - Featured

How I finally started a reading habit

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with reading. Love, because I get such a buzz from the feeling of flow that happens when immersed in a good book. Hate, because my attention often drifts away and a book stays unfinished for weeks or months (or years).

After adding reading on my New Year resolutions almost every year for the past decade, I had a series of nudges that have helped me get back into reading. They’ve helped me create a reading habit.

Nudge #1: Tim Ferriss’ s Tools of Titans and Tribe of Mentors. Tim, the author of the Four Hour Workweek, has a fantastic podcast in which he interviews influential personalities. He systematically asks them about their ‘tools’, ‘rituals’ and favourite reads. First, almost all interviewees mention reading as one of their habits. Second, the interviewees happen to share many of their favourite titles. It seems like there is a base of common wisdom and guidance that have guided these personalities.

Nudge #2: Being introduced to the concepts in My Best Year Ever. This is a toolkit for establishing habits and goals. The toolkit helped me become more consciousc of my motivation for reading. It’s obvious but it’s worth writing it down. It includes loving the exposure to new ideas; stimulating my creativity; improving my ability to think, express myself and write; and lastly enjoying the cultural gems that humanity has created. To bring this motivation to life, I set myself the goal of reading one book each week. I then established a reading list and divided each book in a number of pages to read each day. Each day, I get the satisfaction of crossing off my reading ‘to do’ and track my progress. For long books, I allow myself 2 weeks. This simple practice gives me a sense of daily achievement that’s enough to keep the habit going.

Nudge #3: Creating a reading system. To achieve my reading goal, I use moments of inactivity throughout the day, between calls and around meal times. I found it helpful to use the Kindle apps on my smart-phone and laptop, and also the Kindle Oasis e-reader (and the occasional paper book). Kinde captures my reading location and shares it across devices (most of the time). I also use Goodreads to share my reading list. Finally I write a short blog post about my favourite books.

Nudge #4: Listen to the podcast! What You Will Learn is a fantastic way to get exposed to great books, with the engaging Adam and Adam presenting a short summary. Their podcast not only helps getting the main couple of ideas of selected books, but is a great warm-up if you want to dive into the full length book.

My favourite e-reader

I’ve used Kindle Oasis (2nd generation) for a few years now. It’s ultralight and water resistant. It can be configured in night mode to reduce glare. It’s easy to carry around on travel or to work for reading mini-breaks throughout the day. It’s not perfect (the interface is a bit clunky with a few bugs here and there) but purely as a reading tool, I’m satisfied with it.

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