Are you able to get through all the reading you planned this year? Do you ever want to read more but don’t seem to have the time?
Reading has been shown to have many benefits, including stress reduction, memory improvement, vocabulary expansion, and improved concentration and focus. Beyond that, it helps provide an escape from the grind of daily life.
Unfortunately, while many people want to read more, their schedules or motivation don’t allow for it. However, there are things you can do to make time and build your motivation and get back to picking up books from that stack you’ve been collecting.
If you’re wondering how to read more, learn more, and grow faster, here are 15 ways that can help you:
1. Define Your Purpose for Reading
Before you start reading, ask yourself why you’re reading this book. Most people read for two main reasons: pleasure or knowledge.
Being specific and clear about your reading purpose not only helps you to eliminate books that you don’t need to read, but it also reminds you why reading the book is important to you as you are reading it. This motivates you to keep reading and complete the book faster.
2. Read Only What You Are Attracted to
Whether you are reading fiction or nonfiction books, it’s important to enjoy what you read. Your friends may recommend books that they love, but those books might not necessarily be the ones you enjoy.
Don’t read for the sake of reading. Reading shouldn’t be another task in your to-do-list to be checked off. Reading books that you think you “should” read or which you think are good for you will slow down your reading process if you have no interest in it.
Instead, find good books to read that spark your interest and curiosity. You’ll find yourself reading these books faster.
3. Feel Free to Skip Pages
When it comes to reading for personal pleasure and knowledge, you set your own rules. Don’t feel guilty about skipping pages.
In fact, skipping pages is more productive. It helps you move through boring or irrelevant parts quicker, and you won’t waste time reading something that doesn’t serve you.
4. Give up Books That You Don’t Enjoy
You may have selected books that are aligned with your purpose. You may have selected books that you are attracted to. But as you are reading them, there may still be some books that you won’t enjoy reading.
Whenever you realize that you aren’t enjoying the book you are reading, give it up. Remember reading shouldn’t be a chore.
Giving up doesn’t mean that you are a quitter. Giving up books that you don’t enjoy reading actually frees up your time for books that you would enjoy.
5. Set a Reading Goal
Having a reading goal helps you figure out how much reading you need to do in a week or even a day.
For example, my current reading goal is to read 100 books a year. Since there are 52 weeks a year, each week I need to read at least 2 books. Having a reading goal allows me to strategize how much time I need to allocate each day for reading and helps me to decide what information I need from each book.
Instead of dabbling in reading and hoping to find something useful to you, come prepared with a set of reading objectives. This helps you focus on specific parts of the book and find information that is useful to you when reading.
Lifehack’s CEO Leon Ho reads a lot, and his reading habits will inspire you to read more and learn more efficiently: How I Pick the Right Books to Read to Learn 10X Faster
6. Give Yourself a Deadline to Complete Each Book
Before you read each book, ask yourself when you need to complete this book by.
What I find interesting is that I tend to read books that I borrow from my local library faster than the books I bought. The reason is the books I bought don’t have a due date! I don’t need to return those books, so I can take as long as I want.
When you don’t set a deadline to complete your book, there isn’t a sense of urgency, and when something isn’t urgent, you tend to procrastinate and your books get left on the shelves untouched and unread. Set a deadline to avoid this problem.
7. Make Reading a Part of Your Daily Routine
If reading is important to you, no matter how busy you are, you will find and schedule time to do it.
8. Prepare Your Reading List in Advance
To keep your reading momentum, always have the next book ready. Don’t wait until you have completed all your books, and then find the next book to read. You’ll waste unnecessary time trying to find the next book.
Instead, prepare a reading list in advance. List all the books you want to read, and add books that are recommended by your friends and family. Go to your local bookstores and see what intrigues you.
You can also find a list of recommended books suggested by bloggers on their websites.
If you need some inspiration, check out this article: What to Read Next? 30 Inspiring Books That Will Expand Your Mind.
9. Use Your Free Time
Reading in the morning before you start your work or reading at night when you are winding down is a great idea. At these time, you won’t get caught up in the daily distractions that interrupt you.
However, if you want to maximize your reading time, try carrying a book with you wherever you go. There will be times during the day when you are free or waiting in a queue. Use this time to catch up on your reading.
10. Find a Quiet Place
Reading requires focus and concentration. If possible, find a quiet place where you feel comfortable.
Reading in a quiet environment increases your comprehension. You won’t get disrupted by external noises and won’t have to reread previous pages and paragraphs to recall what you have just read.
Also, switch off your phone or put it away. Close your door if necessary. You read more in one hour of focused reading than in three hours of interrupted reading.
11. Get Some Context First, If Possible
Sometimes, if you watch the trailer, read the synopsis, or follow some of the online content that the author has been providing, you are able to get into the author’s world much faster.
You won’t have to spend as much time establishing the context or understanding the characters in the beginning. This can also generate more interest in the book and motivate you to continue to read more in order to reach the end.
12. Read for Meaning, Not Words
Have you experienced times when you are just reading words, but not comprehending anything that the book says?
Reading a book word by word isn’t an effective way to read. Some words such as “a”, “an” and “the” don’t add any meaning to what you read. Your brain is smarter than you think it is. With just a few important words, your brain can devise meanings and comprehend what the author is saying by tapping on your prior knowledge and experience.
Furthermore, reading word by word is boring unless you are reading to appreciate the author’s use of language. Instead, allow your eyes to scan the page and pick up words that help you form meanings.
13. Read in Layers
Reading in layers is especially useful if you read nonfiction. Instead of reading your book once through in detail, read your book with multiple passes.
For example, your first pass could be just browsing the book, reading the content page and some of the headers to get the overall big picture. Then, your second pass could be selecting specific sections of the book you need more detail from and zooming in on them.
Before you start each pass, decide if you need more detail. Sometimes, you are able to comprehend the information without needing to read the examples. Other times, some information might not apply to you now.
14. Keep an Open Mind
Don’t critique the author while you are reading the book. Arguing with the author as you read lowers your comprehension, and you can always disagree once you’ve finished.
Also, spotting grammar and spelling mistakes while you read slows down your reading process. Although constant bad grammar could affect your reading, small grammar and spelling mistakes hardly affect your comprehension.
Again, ask yourself what the purpose of reading this book is. Are you reading for pleasure and knowledge, or are you reading to proofread or critique the book?
15. Read Several Books at a Time
This sounds counterproductive, but it works well if you are doing research or want to accumulate knowledge on a topic fast. Reading several books at once allows you to receive different points of view on the same topic more quickly, as well.
Even if you are reading fiction books, you can also read books in the same series at the same time. That will help you retain information about the plot and characters.
The Bottom Line
If you want to read more, it can seem like a difficult habit to develop. However, with the right mindset, a set goal, and a good dose of motivation, you can increase the number of pages you drink in each day. Pick up a book that interests you and get started now.
More Reading Tips
Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com
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