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build a reading habit

Build a Reading Habit: 20 Tips for Making Time for Books

If you want to build a reading habit as a busy leader, don't start with finding time to read, make sure you'll make time to read

Attention busy leaders! Are you tired of feeling like you can’t keep up with your towering pile of unread books? Do you secretly wish you could teleport into a cozy reading nook, snuggle up with a good book, and forget about your overflowing inbox?

Well, fear not, I’ve got some practical tips to help you build a reading habit that even the busiest person would envy. So put down that spreadsheet, take off your power tie, and let’s get to it! 
(Just try it, even if you hate reading!)

I have 20 tips for you, but I’ve written them in as few words as possible. That way, you won’t spend too much time reading this blog and can start a book as soon as possible. Just take a quick look at the list and choose only the tips that will help you read a book.

1. Set a Goal and Make a Plan

  • Determine your purpose and motivation for reading
  • Set a specific and achievable goal (e.g., number of books per month or year)
  • Schedule a regular reading time and create a conducive environment for reading
  • Use tools and apps to track your progress and hold yourself accountable
  • You might want to invest in reading faster

2. Incorporate Reading into Your Daily Routine

  • Find pockets of time for reading in your busy schedule (e.g., during commute, lunch break, before bedtime)
  • Replace or limit time spent on other activities (e.g., social media, TV) with reading
  • Use audiobooks or e-books for convenience and flexibility

3. Expand Your Reading Horizons

  • Explore different genres and topics to keep your reading fresh and interesting
  • Join a book club or online reading community for discussion and inspiration
  • Read books that can benefit your personal and professional growth (e.g., leadership, productivity, creativity)
build a reading habit

4. Overcome Common Reading Obstacles

  • Combat distractions and interruptions by setting boundaries and communicating your reading time to others
  • Overcome reading slumps or lack of motivation by choosing shorter or easier books, or taking a break to recharge
  • Use reading as a stress-reliever and self-care activity, rather than as another item on your to-do list

5. Use Reading as a Learning Tool

  • Approach reading as a way to learn new things and gain new perspectives
  • Take notes or highlight key passages to retain information and ideas
  • Apply what you learn from books to your personal and professional life

6. Make Reading a Priority

  • Consider reading as important as any other work-related task
  • Communicate to colleagues and family members the importance of your reading time
  • Schedule your reading time in your calendar and protect it as you would any other appointment

7. Create a Reading List

  • Make a list of books you want to read and prioritize them
  • Get recommendations from colleagues, friends, or online resources
  • Keep your reading list visible and update it regularly.

8. Read Multiple Books at Once

  • Read different books for different purposes (e.g., one for personal growth, one for entertainment)
  • Switch between books to prevent boredom or burnout
  • Keep track of each book’s progress to avoid confusion

9. Practice Mindful Reading

  • Focus on the present moment and the book in front of you
  • Avoid multitasking or distractions while reading
  • Take breaks to reflect on what you’ve read and let it sink in
build a reading habit

10. Set Reading Challenges

  • Set challenges for yourself such as reading a certain number of books in a specific timeframe or reading books from different genres.
  • Participate in reading challenges offered by organizations or online communities.
  • Set rewards for meeting your reading goals to keep yourself motivated.

11. Use Technology to Your Advantage

  • Use audiobooks during exercise or while commuting.
  • Use e-readers to have access to many books on the go.
  • Join online book clubs to get recommendations and interact with other readers.

12. Read with Others

  • Read with your family members, friends, or colleagues to create accountability and motivation.
  • Organize a book club with people who share similar interests to discuss books and share ideas.
  • Participate in reading events or book fairs to meet other readers and share your love for reading.

13. Make Reading a Part of Your Morning Routine

  • Start your day with reading to help you focus and energize your mind.
  • Wake up earlier to create a quiet space and time for reading.
  • Read books or articles related to your field or interests to stay informed and motivated.

14. Donate or Exchange Books

  • Exchange books with friends or colleagues to discover new books and to share your favorites.
  • Donate your books to libraries, charities, or schools to give back to the community.
  • Participate in book drives or donate books to support literacy initiatives.

15. Take Advantage of Reading Apps and Tools

  • Use reading apps and tools like Goodreads, Kindle, or Audible to track your reading progress, discover new books, and set reading goals.
  • Use productivity tools like Forest or Pomodoro to help you stay focused and avoid distractions while reading.
build a reading habit

16. Read to Relax and Unwind

  • Read books as a way to escape and unwind after a long day.
  • Read books that help you relax and destress, like fiction or self-help books.
  • Create a relaxing environment for reading, like a comfortable chair or a quiet room.

17. Incorporate Reading into Your Social Life

  • Use reading as a way to connect with others, like discussing books with colleagues, friends, or family members.
  • Attend book clubs, book fairs, or literary events to meet like-minded readers and discover new books.
  • Share your favorite books on social media or join online reading communities to connect with other readers.

18. Take Breaks and Adjust Your Reading Habits

  • Take breaks from reading when needed to avoid burnout or boredom.
  • Adjust your reading habits according to your schedule or interests.
  • Mix up the format of books you read, like audiobooks, e-books, or physical books.

19. Be Kind to Yourself

  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t meet your reading goals.
  • Start small and build up your reading habit gradually.
  • Remember that the goal is to enjoy reading and gain personal and professional growth, not to add more stress to your life.
    If you find it hard to be kind for yourself, read about Leading with Self-Compassion Benefits You and Your Team 

20. Use Reading as a Form of Self-Care

  • Prioritize reading as a way to take care of yourself and improve your well-being.
  • Read books that inspire you and promote personal growth and self-reflection.
  • Schedule regular reading breaks to recharge and refocus your mind.

The best tips for me

Tips 2, 5, and 11 have been very helpful for me. I love listening to audiobooks while walking my dog, and I start my day by reading from a spiritual book. Currently, I’m reading “A Course in Miracles.

I used to be an avid reader, but nowadays, I often need a little push to get me back on track. As a good leader, reading extensively and drawing inspiration from various books is essential.

I’m curious to know what tips you use to make time for reading. Perhaps you have some valuable insights to share that could help me and others build a reading habit as busy leaders. Let’s inspire each other and keep our minds active and curious!

In the list below, I share the best management books to read in 2023. I loved the first book, but I still have to read the other two. 

Top management books to read in 2023

Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead And Win

In “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, you’ll discover the mindset and principles that enable SEAL units to accomplish even the toughest missions. And you can apply those same principles to lead and inspire your own team to achieve success.

Rise And Grind

“Rise And Grind” by Daymond John (of Shark Tank fame) is a collection of rituals, habits, and best practices from successful entrepreneurs across various industries, including John himself. You’ll find inspiration and practical advice to help you achieve your goals and take your business to the next level.

When: The Scientific Secrets Of Perfect Timing

In “When,” Daniel H. Pink explores the scientific secrets of timing, showing you the best times of day, year, and even life to tackle complex problems, start new projects, and make major changes. With this knowledge, you can structure your time effectively and optimize your productivity for maximum impact.

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