Read More/Achieve More

Most people intuitively know that they should read more. Maybe it’s a vestige from our school librarians or maybe just something deeply engrained in our DNA. But either way, reading more is a good goal to strive for. Unfortunately, our modern world of business and distractions makes carving out time with a book a difficult task. Today, we’ll look at two things: why you should read more and how you can maximize your reading time.

Why Read More

Finding time to read is hard – especially when your schedule is already full of meetings, emails, phone calls, and tasks. But ignoring the call to read comes at a high price when you consider the many benefits of reading – both mental and physical.

  1. Strengthen your Brain – Reading will make you smarter. You’ve probably heard this one a thousand times, so I won’t belabor the point. Your brain is a muscle and muscles need to be exercised and fed. When it comes to your brain, there’s no better exercise than immersing yourself in a good book.
  2. Prevent Cognitive Decline – Multiple studies have shown that reading prevents age-related cognitive decline – even Alzheimer’s disease. By working your brain with a book, you can keep your mind agile and healthy for longer. And let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger.
  3. Reduce Stress – At the end of a long day, it is tempting to unwind with an hour or two of TV. But a book will get the job done better than TV. Reading reduces stress levels better than almost any other leisure activity (including video games, TV, and listening to music).
  4. Be a Better Writer – If you want to be a good writer, you first need to be a good reader. Immersing yourself in a good book (of any genre or style) will help to shape your own style. Even if you hate the book, you’ll learn what you don’t like.
  5. Be a Better Person – Reading has the power to make you a better person. By experiences the struggles and emotions of others, you will learn to be more empathetic toward your family, friends, and co-workers. Beyond learning empathy, reading will also present you with positive role models to follow.
  6. It’s Fun – I might sound like an elementary school teacher here, but reading really is fun; especially once you get into the habit and it feels more a treat than a chore.

How to Read

I know, you already know how to read. But there are ways to read better and smarter (if you really want to dig into this, I’d suggest Mortimer Adler’s classic How to Read a Book). I’m going to cover my top five reading tips here, but I’d love to hear your methods too!

  1. Books over TV – I totally understand the appeal of plopping down in front of the TV after a long day. It is easy and comforting. But that time could be put to much better use reading a book! The average American watches a staggering five hours of TV every day. Even if you’re only putting in one or two hours, there’s plenty of time to steal away for reading (and still leave time for the latest Game of Thrones episode).
  2. Commonplace Book – When I was in college, a professor made us keep a notebook where we wrote down favorite quotations from our reading. At first, it felt like a waste of time, but it has become a habit (with varying degrees of success) that I greatly enjoy. Rather than underlining or highlighting that I promptly forget, writing them down makes it easy to find later.
  3. Put Away your Phone – And I mean really put it away. Not in your pocket or on the arm of the couch, but in a drawer, in the other room, under lock and key. Distractions come too easily when you think you can check your email or browse Facebook. Beat distractions before they steal your reading time.
  4. Slow and Steady – Reading isn’t about how many books you can finish in a month. It is about cultivating a healthy and enriching habit. Don’t wear yourself out with a frantic pace at the beginning. Set reasonable goals and make yourself keep them. Start with 30 minutes a day (you’ll be amazed how much you can read in 30 uninterrupted minutes), and adjust from there.
  5. Go Audio – I love audio books. And there’s never been a better time for the audio book lovers. I’m never without either a phone, tablet, or computer; so, I’m never without access to my audio library. I listen while on my commute, and even with a short commute (10 minutes each way) I power through books at a surprising rate.

Read More, Achieve More

All this sounds great. But is reading anything more than a good hobby that some people can enjoy? Is it really something everyone should do?
Absolutely! The benefits of reading all relate to your productivity and ability to produce results. Whether you’re a content marketer, a small business owner, or new intern; reading will help you do your job better. But even more important, no matter your background or experiences, reading will make you a better person. So let’s all read more and achieve more.

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