Reading is one of my favorite passions.
By far, it’s the thing I’ve learned the most from in my life. I’ve read books on philosophy, psychology, business, self-improvement, strategy, and more. I’ve learned some really amazing things from each and every one of them.
Reading books is like jumping into a different world and learning from some of the wisest and most experienced people who have ever lived. So much knowledge has been gained and documented over the centuries into books. There is no domain, industry, or topic that hasn’t been covered. Pick anything you’d like to learn about, and there are at least several books written by super smart people on the subject.
“I cannot understand how some people can live without communicating with the wisest people who ever lived on earth”
— Leo Tolstoy
But like anything in life, getting into the habit of reading books can be a challenge, especially if you’re not reading much today. If you have a full-time job, that’s already 8 to 10 hours booked for work. Not to mention if you have kids or other responsibilities to take care of. By the time it gets to the end of the night, anyone would be far too tired to read.
Over the years, I’ve developed the ultimate strategy for getting into the habit of daily reading. It’s not hard at all. It just requires a bit of knowledge about how habits are formed. Once you get into it, I guarantee you that it can fit into any busy schedule.
I call my strategy: make reading the default.
From habits to default actions
Think about the time you spend on each thing throughout your day. There are of course the major staples: eating, sleeping, and working.
But then there’s the in-between, the little nuggets of time that slip between each major activity and even within them. The times when you’re bored, sitting idle, or just chilling.
The default action for most people’s in-between time is…..nothing.
It’s time spent skimming through social media, watching random YouTube videos, or …. just sitting, or daydreaming. The action itself is automatic. It’s a fully ingrained habit, the default action.
This is actually great news!
Although that time is currently being spent unproductively, the fact that it’s a default action gives us a clue. If we can make something else the default, something more positive like reading books, then we have ourselves a daily habit.
How to make reading your default
There it is! To read more books, all you have to do is make it your default action. Reading books must become the thing you do whenever you’re not doing anything else. If you’ve got a second of time in the middle of your day, then you have time to read.
I can offer two specific tips for making that happen.
Always have a book on you
Many people gravitate to YouTube and social media because it’s so easily accessible. Whether you’re at home or on the go, it’s super easy to fire up Google Chrome or pull out your phone and start procrastinating.
So, what we want to do with books is make them just as easy to access in any situation. You can do that by always carrying a book with you.
- If you’re sitting at your desk, keep a book on the table within arms reach
- If you’re on the go, carry a Kindle to read from Amazon Kindle books. You can also grab a tablet or your phone and download Scribd on it. Even a physical book works if you don’t mind carrying it around
- Place a book or something to read from in every room in the house. Or you can keep your books on your phone if you find yourself carrying it around most of the time.
The simple act of making your books more accessible will help you become far more inclined to default to reading. The mere presence of books around you reminds you to read.
Listen to audiobooks
The first tip was all about making reading easier, within arms reach at all times. But we also need to make reading more flexible. If you’re on the commute, eating breakfast, or working out, it’s a lot harder to read with a book in your hand at the same time.
Audiobooks are your friend here.
While I will say I slightly prefer a physical book to audio, audiobooks still have their own special place. They’ve made reading lots of books infinitely accessible in nearly all situations.
- If you’re driving, plug in the aux cord and listen to your book
- If you’re working out, pop your headphones into your phone and play a couple of chapters
- If you’re chilling around the house or taking a short break from work, run that track!
I use all of the above points literally on a daily basis. With an average book being around 8 to 12 hours of listening time, you’d be surprised how quickly you can go through books with audio. 45 minutes during my daily workout, plus a few extra chunks of 10 minutes here and there and it’s easy to go through a book a week.
If you ever find yourself missing some points, most audiobooks have both a bookmarking and a 30-second rewind feature so you can always go back and re-listen. I’d highly recommend audiobooks for endless, super flexible access to reading.
The best strategy for making reading a part of your life is to make it your default action. Whenever you have idle time or are bored, default to reading. You can do this by making reading easier and more flexible.
Easy by always having a book on you. With a book always within reach, you’ll be far more inclined to grab it and read a few pages throughout the day.
Flexible by listening to audiobooks. Audiobooks are a lot more flexible than physical books because you can listen to them anywhere. In the car, during a workout, or anywhere in-between.
Over time, the little nuggets of time will add up to hundreds of books, thousands of reading hours, and an endless amount of knowledge.