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The Benefits of Reading and How to Comfortably Read More Each Day
Julian Barnes is one of my favourite authors. About books, he says:
“When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life, you plunge deeper into it.”
Yes! Reading a chapter of a book here and there and turning that into a daily habit has many wonderful benefits. In celebration of World Book Day, March 4, I’d like to share the top 10 reasons to be reading more, and 14 tips on how you can easily incorporate more of it into your day.
WHY IS READING A BIG DEAL
Reading has many amazing brain and health benefits, such as:
- Heightening brain connectivity and strengthening existing neuronal pathways in the brain, as well as creating new ones
- Allowing us to experience more sensations, empathy, and social skills
- Improving our memory
- Expanding our vocabulary and knowledge base, as well as our writing skills
- Strengthening our analytical skills
- Improving our focus and concentration, and expands our attention span
- Gives you something interesting to talk about when you’re socialising or networking
- Reducing stress and providing a great way to escape and unwind, especially at night when it can become a ritual that improves sleep (as long as you are reading an actual paper book and not an e-reader)
- In the case of depression and mood disorders, self-help books can provide a low-intensity intervention and a sense of calm
- Staving off dementia in the elderly by providing mental stimulation
- Ok, so now we understand why reading is good for us, how do we make it happen on the regular?
Away with the “Yeah, I used to read ALL the time, but I just don’t have time for it anymore” excuses. Instead, let’s help you turn the following creative ways of making time to read, into a habit. One that has you reading on the daily and devouring more books than you have in years.
How to Incorporate More Reading Into Your Day, Every Day
Did you know that somewhere after:
- Lose weight
- Find a soul mate, and
- Stop procrastinating
“Read more” is a top goal that many of us set ourselves? Makes sense, considering the reasons why reading is regarded as a big deal.
When we can think of reading not just as something we should be doing, but also as a self-care practice, I believe reading becomes that little more delicious and fun to fit into your day.
Here are 14 ways to comfortably fit more reading into your day:
1. Read Only What You’re Interested In
At least to begin with. If you want to make reading a habit, help yourself by choosing books that you’ll look forward to picking up and reading each day. If you’re 50-60 pages in and you’re not feeling it, then give yourself permission to cut that one loose and pick up another.
As Gretchen Rubin, author of “The Happiness Project” shares, quitting on a book early gives you “More time for reading good books! Less time for reading books out of obligation”.
2. Read A Little Bit First Thing In the Morning, Just Before Sleep, and In Small Pockets In Between
You don’t have to carve out and sit down for a whole hour each day when you don’t have that time available. You can make reading a habit by consistently using the small chunks of time you do have.
It doesn’t matter how fast you finish a book. A couple of pages read here, and there, still add up to a finished book in the end. But sure, why not set that alarm for 30mins earlier each day?
3. Always Keep a Book in Your Bag or Within Grabbing Distance At Home
Anytime you have a few free minutes is a great time to be reading – waiting for a friend, drinking a coffee, on the commute to and from work, travelling in the air or on the train, in the grocery line, waiting at the doctor’s office, or in the usually wasted minutes before a conference call.
And place the books you want to read around you at home. Seeing them will be a reminder to pick them up and read.
4. Set Goals But Don’t Over-Commit
Setting easy to reach reading goals, to begin with, will give you momentum, and momentum is what will keep you going. Start, for example, by aiming for one book a month or 20 pages a day.
By not over-committing yourself, reading is not stressful. It becomes an enjoyable thing to do each day, which means you’ll find it easy to focus and read more quickly.
5. Set Time Blocks in Your Calendar, With Reminders
Just like you’d schedule in time for the gym, schedule in a longer block of time for reading each week. And set yourself a reminder for it. Take it a step further, if you like, and make it feel special by taking yourself out to a cosy café for a book-date.
6. When You’re Busy or Stressed, Re-Read Books You Love
If you want to read more, it needs to be a pleasure. And re-reading a good book during times of stress can be really comforting without expending the same kind of energy it takes to get into a new book. And hey, you’re still reading!
7. Give up Social Media, Netflix, and TV
At least for a while. If you want to read more and make it a habit that sticks, then you’ll need to pull out distractions and things that get in the way.
8. Read While You’re Eating
Ok, I’d usually never suggest you do anything to distract yourself while eating. But if you’re on your own for a meal, eating and reading can be the perfect pleasures to combine.
9. Use a Finger to Train Your Eye
This is a speed-reading technique I picked up from reading expert Jim Kwik. Teach yourself to read faster by using a finger to pull your eye over each line of text. You may look and feel like a 5-year-old, but it works!
10. Read Multiple Books At Once
This might not work for everyone, but try it on for size. Keep different books in different locations. Reading different books at the same time is challenging and can keep you from getting bored.
One by your bed, and one in your bag, for instance. Perhaps make the books different genres and don’t swap them around until you’ve finished reading one.
11. Join a Book Club or a Reading Challenge
This can help hold you accountable to your goals and motivate you to complete a certain amount of reading each month.
12. Take Advantage of the Technology We Have At Our Fingertips
Studies show us that reading a book in print means better comprehension and retention, compared to computer screens. But if your primary goal is to read more, make it as easy as possible for yourself.
If it’s easier to read at different times on your Ipad, Kindle, or on your phone, then do it. Listening to Audio Books also counts when it comes to tallying up your number of books read.
13. Look for Short Cuts and Stock Up
Waste time you could be reading by not knowing what to pick up and read? Search for curated lists by people you follow or authors you like. What are they reading? Short-list what piques your interest from this list and then stock up on those books, so you’re not without a read.
And no, don’t feel you have to purchase every book you want to read. The library is a great place to go to enjoy a book in a quiet corner, pick up a few while you’re there, and then use that “Return By” date to your advantage by using it to force you to read more quickly.
14. Use an App to Track Your Progress
Can’t let go of your phone? Then use it to click on a Reading App that will track your progress by things like: read time, total pages read, pages read per day, and reading speed. This can definitely be a fun motivator.
To celebrate World Book Day, use this list to ditch the excuses and snuggle under the covers tonight. With a current or completely new read – your mind and body will thank you for it!