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Last Updated on February 25, 2020

15 Simple Ways To Help You Read More

15 Simple Ways To Help You Read More

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?

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 are you 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. 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, 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 books 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. You don’t need to read all the pages in a book. It’s not cheating!

In fact, skipping pages is more productive. It helps you move through boring or irrelevant parts quicker. You don’t waste time reading something that doesn’t serve you.

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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, this year, my reading goal is to read 100 books. 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 it 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 hie reading habits will inspire you to read more and learn more efficienty: 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 libraries 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 to read those books.

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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. So setting a deadline is important.

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 read.

Making reading a part of your daily routine removes the hassle of finding time each day to read. Allocating a fixed time to read each day reduces procrastination. It’s also easier for others to know your reading schedule and not to disturb you when you are reading.

8. Prepare Your Reading List in Advance

To keep your reading momentum, always have the next book ready. Don’t wait untill you have completed all your books, 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. 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 inspirations, check out 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 are the best times to read. At these time, you won’t get caught up in the daily distractions that interrupt your reading.

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 to read.

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Reading in a quiet environment increases your comprehension. You don’t get disrupted by external noises. You don’t have to reread previous pages and paragraphs to recall what you have just read.

So choose a good environment in which to read. 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.

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 for nonfiction readers. Instead of reading your book once through in detail, read your book with multiple passes. 

So 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 first. Then your second pass could be selecting specific sections of the book you need more detail in and zooming in on them.

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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. So you don’t need to read everything in detail.

14. Keep an Open Mind While Reading

Don’t critique the author while you are reading the book. Arguing with the author as you read lowers your comprehension. You can always disagree with the author after you have completed the book.

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 at all.

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.

When I was writing my book, Fearless Passion, I read several books about passion at the same time. Some books have similar information. I just picked one book that clearly explained the information I needed and skipped the rest. Reading several books at once also allows me to receive different points of view on the same topic quicker.

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.

More Reading Tips

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Yong Kang Chan

Self-Help Author (Writes about Self-Compassion and Mindfulness)

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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

15 Office Design Tricks That Will Increase Your Productivity at Work

Where you work has an enormous impact on how you work – on your ability to focus (and stay focused) and your overall ability to be productive. That means the design of your office, whether you work at home or in a larger company environment, is of supreme importance. This isn’t just about Feng Shui, this is about producing results and getting things done.

According to studies done on workplace and productivity, the most significant factor in determining an employee’s ability to focus is their physical environment. In fact, it’s been said that a well-designed office can increase your productivity about 20%. However, despite the studies and statistics, nearly half of the employers interviewed don’t consider workplace design a good business investment.

So what is a productivity hack to do? What if you work in an environment that doesn’t promote focus?

Check these 15 factors and make changes where you can. A little adjustment can produce a lot of impact.

Lighting

Lighting is one of the most important factors in staying focused and feeling inspired to create, yet it’s one of the most overlooked and least invested in. Bad lighting can cause fatigue, eyestrain, headaches and overall irritability. Dark spaces can actually produce depression.

If you work in a company office:
You probably have no control over your general lighting so bring in your own, if need be. Consider using natural light bulbs or a light therapy device.

If you work from a home office:
Open the windows and doors and let natural light in. Using lamps in a variety of areas for cloudy days or when it’s dark.

Chair and Table

If you’ve ever sat at a desk to do work but found yourself adjusting, stretching and moving too often to actually stay focused, then you’re aware of the importance of having a correctly fitted table and chair. In today’s work environment where so many of us are sitting for most of our day, it is critical that your throne fits your body probably.

Consider these quick ergonomic checks:

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  • Eyes 24-36 inches from the computer screen. The top of the monitor should be below or at eye-level.
  • Feet should be on a foot rest or resting on the floor.
  • A slightly reclined chair posture is best to reduce pressure on your spine and minimize lower back pain.

If you work in a company office:
Ask for an adjustable chair. Add pillows for your lower back or bum, if you need it. Many companies will also provide risers for computers to adjust the height of your computer screen (and a separate keyboard to keep your hands and wrists in the ideal position)

If you work from a home office:
Invest in a decent chair or at least use a few pillows to make the chair more comfortable. If the table is too high, add pillows to your chair. If it is too low, consider buying leg risers from your local hardware store and using books beneath your computer to raise the screen. Use a separate keyboard.

Clutter

Your mama was right, it’s important to clean up your room. Clutter may help the creative mind create, but it isn’t necessarily helpful for focus and productivity.

If you work from a company office: While you can’t control the cleanliness of the office at large, do keep your own environment around you clean. Spend 10 minutes every morning or evening making sure things are put away, filed, organized and generally out of sight so you’re not distracted by it later.

If you work from a home office: Because you work from home, the entire house or apartment is potential for distraction. If you can afford it, hire a professional cleaning service to keep your home clean. If not, schedule a specific day and time to clean your home. Commit to doing daily pickup at a specific time. And spend at least 10 minutes every day making sure your office  is organized and tidy.

Room Color

The colors around us all have an effect on our moods and brain function. It evokes both a physical and emotional response. So choosing the right colors for your work space has the ability to affect your productivity. For instance, blue has been said to illicit productivity. Mind you, too much of anything can be overwhelming, even color.

If you work from a company office: Bring in items from home that are a certain color that inspire you and keep you focused. Use postcards, magazine cutouts, even just blocks of color will do.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, you have much more control over the colors around you. Consider repainting a wall, adding color to the table you work at, or hanging pictures that are dominated by a specific color.

Room Temperature

Most offices keep their temperatures around 65-68 Fahrenheit but it turns out that this might not be good for productivity. Warmer rooms actually make people more productive.

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If you work from a company office: Most offices are regulated by somebody else, so bring a space heater, sweaters and blankets to your work space.

If you work from a home office: Depending on the season, open the windows or adjust the heat or a/c so that you’re more comfortable and warm. Pile on the sweaters in the winter or add a space heater to your feet.

Room Scents

Like the color of the space you work in, our sense of smell can powerfully affect our mood, mindset and thus our productivity. Consider adding scents to your work space to jar your mind into focus when you start to notice yourself drifting off.

Try using these scents to stay focused:

  • Pine – Increases alertness
  • Cinnamon – Improves focus
  • Lavender – Helps to relax you during a stressful work day
  • Peppermint – Lifts your mood
  • Citrus (any) – Wakes you up  and lifts your spirits

If you work from a company office: Most people will not appreciate added scents to their work environment so you’ll need to keep it subtle. Keep essential oils in your bag or drawer and when you’re in need of a boost put a few drops on a handkerchief or cotton ball.

If you work from a home office: Use candles, incense or essential oils. You can also simmer herbs and spices in the kitchen to fill your home with a warm scent.

Noise Level

The noise level in a work environment can vary greatly depending on the size of the team you work with, the office design and company culture. But make no mistake, the noise around you affects your ability to stay on task. Not only can it be distracting, it can also raise stress levels making your ability to sustain productivity far more difficult.

If you work from a company office: Bring in noise cancellation headphones and use music services like Spotify or Songza and choose concentration boosting sounds, like white noise.  Find out if your office offers quiet work spaces for times when you need the utmost focus.

If you work from a home office: Sometimes the complete quiet can be as distracting as an office. Use a service like Coffivity to mimic the noise of a coffee shop, which has been said to help with concentration.

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Air Quality

Air quality can drastically affect our ability to focus and think clearly. Get this: OSHA estimates that the total annual cost of poor air quality in office environments costs employers $15 billion “due to worker inefficiency and sick leave.” Yeah, it’s serious business.

If you work from a company office: Talk to them about installing air filters. If there is a way to bring in fresh air through windows or doors, arrange to have them opened for at least a portion of the day. If nothing else, get a personal air filter to have on your desk or nearby.

Also, get a plant (or better yet, have the company buy and use more plants in the office!). Plants are great at filtering the air and providing clean, purified oxygen.

If you work from a home office: Open windows and doors and let in the fresh air. Install an air filter or get a portable air filter to keep near your desk. And, yes, you too should get a plant.

Different Spaces

If you can manage it, give yourself more than one space to work from. Putting yourself in a new space with different qualities and things to look at quite literally shifts your brain and helps you stay focused.

If you work from a company office: Many offices offer a variety of environments to work from: your personal space, lobbies, break out rooms, conference rooms, kitchens and eating areas and, if you’re lucky, they also provide lounge areas. Use all these spaces to vary your routine. Make sure your supervisor knows so they don’t think you’re slacking off and know tat you’re actually getting more done!

If you work from a home office: If you work at a desk, add a comfortable couch or chair to the room. If your space is less flexible or ultra tiny, think about more creative ways to change your work space. Rotate the pictures on your walls every couple of days. Sit on the other side of your desk. Get a lamp and multiple colored bulbs. Or go work at a café, the library or in a park.

Organization of People

Most employers organize employees around job function or in specific divisions. Instead, studies show that people are more creative and productive when they are sitting with colleagues that share the same goal or client. Not only are you able to get answers and generate solutions quicker, but because you’re directly accountable to the people around you, you’re more likely to stay on task and productive.

If you work from a company office: Ask your employer if you can experiment by clustering your group together in a conference room for a day or a week. Get feedback from everybody involved. Show the results. If your company won’t make permanent adjustments, perhaps they’ll allow you to work together a couple times a week when the conference room or lounge area is free.

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If you work from a home office: This is a little bit more difficult because when you work at home you’re not with colleagues. You can recreate a similar space digitally, however. Create a Skype group and have everyone logged in during working hours. You can do morning accountability and check-ins while remaining available for questions, solution-finding and general banter that promotes creativity.

Idea Storage

Ever been working hard when you’re suddenly distracted by a great idea? At first you try to push it away, but then the next thing you know you’re 20 pages deep into an online search on the topic. Ideas should be encouraged and cultivated, but when they come right in the middle of another task it can be incredibly distracting. Instead, create a place to store your ideas that’s easily accessed from your work space.

For both a company and home office: Keep pads of paper around, have a chalk wall, get a white board – when you have a spark of inspiration write it down right away to get it out of your head then return to the task at hand. Then, at the end of the day or when you have free time, collect all the ideas and review them. With a little time and space you can better decide if it’s worth pursuing or better to leave it on the back-burner.

Refreshment

Our brain needs nourishment to keep going, especially when we’re driving hard and staying focused. You can let a rumbling stomach go on for only so long before the brain shuts down. Assuming your different is like wanting your car to keep driving without having to stop and fill it with gas. A novel idea, but not realistic.

If you work from a company office: Pre-make snacks for the day and/or week. Or, bring in prepackaged snacks. Keep in mind that junk food has properties of diminishing returns so if you’re buying your food prepackaged think nuts, fruit, unsweetened yogurts, and hummus and crackers. Likely, your company provides coffee, tea and water so you don’t have to worry about supplying that for yourself.

If you work from a home office: If you work from home, this can be a key distraction. Try to reduce the number of times you walk into the kitchen each day. To do this, keep quick and   easy snacks pre-made or prepackaged ready and near your desk. Keep a water bottle nearby. And consider bringing a kettle into your office and stocking tea and coffee so you’re   not tempted to wander around the house and lose time poking through the pantry.

Bring in Nature

We are biological creatures, first and foremost. So we are deeply affected by our access to (or lack of) the natural world. It’s important for our psychological and physiological functioning, which directly affects our ability to be productive.

If you work from a company office: If you don’t have windows in or near your work space, bring in pictures of the outdoor world. Keep a picture of something natural as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks outdoors at lunch or in between major tasks. Just a few minutes outside in the fresh air and sunshine can boost our mood and shake out the doldrums. Be sure to add a plant to your desk, too!

If you work from a home office: Keep the shades open and, if you can, let in fresh air. If you can’t see anything natural out of your window, keep pictures of the natural world as your screensaver and/or desktop wallpaper. Take walks. Or, just step outside and put your feet on the ground. Put plants in your office – research shows that having live plants in your office makes you more productive, happier and less stressed.

Digital Space

For most people, our primary work is housed within our laptops and our physical environment simply the backdrop to our digital lives. Make sure your computer has software that helps you sculpt the digital environment that best elicits productivity. Use focus apps like this one or this to decrease distractions. Or design your day using intervals with an app like this one to keep you at your peak focus throughout the day.

Featured photo credit: Phil Desforges via unsplash.com

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