So you’ve heard it time and time again: that reading is beneficial – memory retention, vocabulary expansion, stress reduction among other superpowers. Various studies have shown that reading is linked to the success of high achievers.
However, when you look at the reality of the situation, as a parent juggling a demanding career, family life, weekend runs and weddings, professional exams (and if you’re a Lagosian, add traffic to that list), where do you find time to squeeze in a book? Or are you the budding entrepreneur working 22 hours daily while juggling orders, employees, emotional and financial management? Where do you find time to add leisure reading to your already full adult plate
(Adulting in the 21 st century is a continuously evolving and chaotic phenomena. Can we be kids again?)
Rather than envying your bibliophile friend or making excuses about the insufficiency of 24 hours, here are some tips to help you kick-start or re-ignite your love for reading.
Start with a new mindset
You need to change your mindset about time never being enough and having other important things to do. World and business leaders attest to the power and benefits of reading despite demanding schedules. If you have time to surf Instagram for hours on end, you have time to read a book. Make the choice to spend five to fifteen minutes to read or listen to a book every day. It also helps if it is attached to an activity that is part of your schedule – an audiobook session while you exercise or a book while you have a quick breakfast.
Set a goal
You can start with a ten minute daily goal or a one page a day goal. Platforms such as Goodreads help you register your reading goals for the year, read reviews, bookmark books, keep a list of books you wish to read, and maintain a reading progress while following your favorite author or friends. Set realistic reading goals and try to meet them without being too hard on yourself.
Two good reading heads are better than one
Just like every other thing in life, teamwork is a booster. You can start a small reading group or join one just to keep you on your toes. You and your partner/friend/sibling/colleague can challenge each other and hold each other accountable to your reading goals. If you’ve always wished to inculcate reading habits in your kids, you can start by reading together with them (I owe my book loving habits to my mum’s reading habits).
God bless the digital age for gifting us with multiple channels and devices that suit our various needs. I prefer printed editions, but if you find them too bulky, buy an e-book or audiobook version and listen to it on the go (traffic can be productive, yes). Kindles, tabs and phones are also alternative devices that make for more convenient reading.
Carry a book everywhere you go
It helps to always have a book with you to read anywhere and everywhere (e-books on your phone or a hard-copy edition in your bag/briefcase). Read while waiting your turn at the salon, during lunch, while waiting for that pot of beans to boil, while waiting for your client at the reception, in the bus. Just read.
The key is to keep trying until you find out what works for you. One page a day is better than no page at all. It also helps to set reminders and alarms for your reading time – look at it as a spa or salon moment for the brain. Also designating a reading space can help; a friend of mine keeps a book permanently in the convenience room at home. Keep trying until you find out what reading style and mood works for you.
Start with what you like
You may dislike a particular genre or find large books discouraging. It’s okay to start with what you like reading, what’s important is that you are reading. Find books within the genre you like. Romance? Finance? Fiction? Horror? Autobiography? Start there and venture to other challenging genres later. I read two books at a time (I find it more challenging and I tend to finish reading faster than when I have one book to read) – one genre I fancy and one genre that I find more challenging.
Make time for it
It requires some sacrifice to kick-start your reading habits. Especially in this digital era, where there are more distractions online. Reading a book means sacrificing a few minutes of television shows or mobile screen time. If you are more tuned to reading on your phone, you may have to mute notifications to avoid distractions. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg read about one book a week. Young Elon Musk read 10 hours each day. There is time.
Take up the challenge and start reading a book (or two?) today. Like the saying goes: A book a day keeps ignorance away.
What reading hacks have worked for you in the past? Please, share your thoughts.