I think most people have good intentions to read. Most people will say that they want to be well read. So the question is, why don't people read more? How do I carve out time in my busy schedule to read? I'll give you a few ideas.
1. Prioritize your reading time
Listen, we all have responsibilities that suck up time. The problem is that if you take a passive approach to scheduling your day, SOMEONE OR SOMETHING will schedule your day for you. You have to prioritize reading. Every day I set in my mind a certain amount of pages I want to read a day. I typically try to aim for about 50-75 pages of reading a day. For me, one of the most important things I can do is study. It is where I find some of the most fulfillment. Set in your mind that reading is an important element of your personal growth and you will make time to read.
2. Say no to unattended vampires
No, I don't mean that you should avoid Twilight (though you should probably do that too). "Vampires" are things that suck your time. Facebook? Vampire. Instagram? Vampire. Television shows? Vampires. Twitter? Vampire. This doesn't mean you can never spend time on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. But "unattended vampires" are when you get on these social media sites without a clear-cut purpose. With no clear purpose, you can lose twenty or thirty minutes at a time. Before you know it, you can lose an hour or more a day. Consider that if you read at an average speed of 2 minutes per page, you are missing out on reading about 30 pages a day. The average book length is 240 pages. That means that if you spent an hour a day reading instead of hanging out with "unattended vampires" you can read 45 books a year. That is a lot of quality reading you are missing out on while watching those cute kitten videos (although, let's be honest...they have their place).
3. Steal Every Moment
Ever find time in your day where you are doing nothing for five or ten minutes? Bring a book and read during that time. If you have a commute, listen to audiobooks. People often laugh at me because I bring a book with me wherever I go. But I cannot tell you how many times I have been out with my wife and she has done a spur of the moment run to Hobby Lobby. You know what I call that? Reading time. I am able to steal a bunch of moments that way and that leads to more books read.
How about you? What tips do you have for finding time to read?
I am an avid reader. When I say avid, I mean that I typically polish off between 100-130 non-fiction titles per year. Now I mainly read in four areas: theology, psychology, business and some fiction. It is my personal conviction that you a leader will become his or her best when they read.
I would like to lay out a few of my own strategies for maximizing the benefits of reading.
1. Always Read with a Writing Utensil in Hand
There are a few reasons I recommend this. First, you should always underline or mark anything that stands out to you. This will help your recall and it will also keep you focused on main ideas that the author is communicating. If you are someone who doesn't like to mark in books, get over it and mark in your book. Seriously. Go do it. You'll feel better and you'll get over your freakout.
Second, it is helpful to read with a pen or pencil in hand because it will serve as your pointer when reading. Your pencil or pen should be hovering over your page and moving along as you cover each word. The perks of doing this are great. You'll read faster since your eyes are focused on one point, you'll retain more information since your eyes are locked on to the words in front of it and you'll read longer since this method prevents eye fatigue.
2. Read with a Index Card Near You
I'll go more in depth on how I use my notecards later. For now, I would just recommend that you writing down or paraphrase anything you learn from the book you read. Just marking your book will not be enough for you to retain information. If you really want to make deep connections between what you are reading and your life, you should write down what you learn (either the quote or a paraphrase of the quote is fine). Make sure that you put the name of the book on the top of the index so you know where you learned the idea from.
3. Study the Table of Contents and Read the Intro and the Conclusion First
I believe one of the reasons people lose interest in non-fiction works is that they cannot see where the argument is headed. That is a legitimate problem that is often intensified by bad writing. However, some of the problem lies in the fact that it requires mental energy to see where an argument is going. In order to help you envision the author's flow of thought, you should do three things before you start any book: 1) Study the table of contents (since this will give you the full scope of where the author is headed) and 2) Read the introduction and conclusion of the book. The author often will talk about his big ideas in the first few pages of his book and then reiterate how he came to those concepts in the conclusion. If you read both the intro and conclusion you will have a firm grasp as to where the author is going and where he wants you to end up conceptually.
If you do these things I think you will notice a change in how you approach non-fiction and what you will retain when you read it.
Also, don't forget to sign up for my monthly newsletter where I will send you out a list of what you should read next. This annotated list will cover a broad range of topics. So whether you are a leader or just a passionate reader, you won't want to miss it.
Daniel Pandolph is co-founder of Ministry Assistant Services and founder of Theologian of the Boss. He holds a BA in Christian Studies from North Greenville University and an MA in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary.