My life revolves around books, football and music. I unapologetically give book and music recommendations to everyone around me.
Starting a habit is easy. But sustaining it for more than two weeks? Not that easy. When it comes to reading, most people are sporadic. They read a few books now and then, depending on their mood and free time. But, this may not work if you want to read more or want to conquer your TBR (To Be Read) list.
To step up your reading game, it is necessary to have a reading habit. A consistent reading habit has a lot of benefits: It can help you read more books, it can increase your knowledge base and confidence, it can improve your reading speed and attention span and so on.
Through this article, I will try to share some steps that I have used to develop a consistent reading habit.
7 Ways to Turn Reading Into a Habit
- Fix a Reading Time
- Make It Part of an Existing Routine
- Pick the Right Book
- Get Hardcopies, e-Books and Audiobooks
- Track What You Read
- Show Up Everyday
- Try a Reading Booster Occasionally
1. Fix a Reading Time
First, you need to decide how many minutes (or hours) you can spend reading a day. Choose a realistic time. It can be 10 minutes, 30 minutes or two hours, depending on your daily schedule. The gist is that you need to pick a time which you can pull off even in the midst of a busy day.
2. Make It Part of an Existing Routine
Author James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, suggests a method called “habit stacking” (which means identifying a current habit you already do each day and then stacking your new behavior on top) to start a new habit. That is, you need to make your new reading routine part of an existing habit, like reading 20 minutes right after waking up or while having dinner or before going to bed. This is a good trick to ensure consistency with any new habit.
3. Pick the Right Book
For a beginner reader, the first 3–5 books you choose for reading are very important. These first books are going to set the pace of your reading habit. You should keep the following points in mind while choosing your first set of books:
- Number of pages: It is better to start with books under 200 or 300 pages.
- Genres you enjoy: Most beginners tend to pick up books that everyone else seems to be reading. But, your reading taste might be totally different from your peers. You don't need to feel pressured to read, say, the Harry Potter series if you are not someone who enjoys fantasy series.
- Simple language: The language used in literature can sometimes be a little complicated. Classic books are often a tempting choice for beginners. Sometimes, that can backfire because of the unfamiliar style of language. So, I suggest you start with modern books and slowly build your way into the classics.
4. Get Hardcopies, e-Books and Audiobooks
Hardcopy or e-book? This is an ongoing debate, and the answer completely lies with the reader. I personally use both. A lot of people like having a physical book at hand. But, if you are someone who is constantly on the move and have trouble walking around with a book, I suggest you download a reading app.
The advantage of a reading device like Kindle is that you can download whatever book you want to read right away in a span of few minutes. Also, the pages read will be synced across all your devices—Kindle, mobile app and desktop. Audio books are a good choice, too.
Ultimately, the best decision is to use a combination of paperback, reading app and audio books, so that you will be fully equipped to read under any given circumstances.
5. Track What You Read
Now that we have chosen the desired schedule and book, we need to have someone to keep us accountable—a tracker. It can be a reading journal, excel sheet or an app. I personally use Goodreads.
Goodreads is sort of an exclusive social media platform for books. It helps you track the books you read. You can add metrics like the day you start reading a book, finishing date, rating out of 5 stars, review etc. It also allows one to keep various reading lists. You can read others' reviews as well. It also has an yearly reading target feature. Tracking using Goodreads can really be a source of motivation to read more.
6. Show Up Everyday
Our days can get really busy, so does the temptation to skip a day or two. But, when it comes to a habit, it is very important to maintain the streak. Skipping a day would not be a big problem. But do not skip more than two days in a row. If we slack off for more than a day, it would be really difficult to get back to the habit. So make it a point to read at least 5 minutes everyday, no matter what. Well, reading 5 minutes is far better than cancelling the whole routine.
7. Try a Reading Booster Occasionally
People tend to drop their habits when they no longer find any excitement out of it. Therefore, we need to have something spicy at hand for the rainy days.
A readathon is like a marathon, except that you are reading instead of running. Here, you need to pick up a certain number of hours for a day—ranging from a basic 8 hours to an adventurous all-nighter 24 hours—and read, without a break. Note that this is a very time- and energy-consuming task and can be attempted only if you can afford a free weekend or a holiday.
Theme-Based Reading Lists
There are plenty of reading challenges online, like 14 books in 14 days, reading bingo and so on.
That's it. You are just seven simple steps away from becoming a pro-reader. Hope this helped. Happy reading!