It may feel like we have all the time in the world these days, as the coronavirus continues to lock most of us in our homes. But even with hours to fill, you may still think that you don’t read enough or that you can’t find a good way to start.
Some of the world’s most successful people are voracious readers, from Barack Obama, who has started an annual tradition of releasing a “best books of the year” list, to entrepreneur Mark Cuban, who boasts of reading three hours a day. Even billionaire Warren Buffet claims to read for hours on end and credits the habit as a key to his achievements.
So if you’re still finding it hard to reach your reading goals—or if you keep making up excuses to avoid them—here are 5 simple tips to make you a more committed daily reader.
1. Read at the same time each day
Forming a habit often depends on forming a routine. Mark out a time of day when you want to curl up with a book and stick to it. Whether it’s ten minutes right when you wake up while eating breakfast, during your commute, or right before bed, having that designated reading time will help you develop a routine.
Tip: Set a modest goal for yourself. If you think you can realistically set 10 minutes aside each day to read, then that’s a great place to start. Reading just a few pages is better than reading none at all.
2. Set aside distractions
If you want to make the most of your reading and learn to really value the time, cut off all distractions while you’re doing it. Many people swear by reading because it’s a form of meditation for them, concentrating on the words on the page and letting everything else float away. Neutralize all buzzing phones, flickering televisions, and pinging Instagram feeds for the time being, and just focus on the book.
3. Make a list
It’s helpful to keep track of books you’re interested in reading, that way you can’t use the excuse that you don’t know what to read. You can start by looking at the <em>New York Times</em> bestseller list, your local library’s recommendations, or by taking suggestions from your literate friends. If something sounds good to you, add it to your list. That way you won’t go through a lull between books.
You might also find it helpful to make a list of the books you’ve finished reading. It can be so fulfilling to watch your “finished” list grow and observe the progress of your new reading habit. Plus, it will allow you to recommend books to your own friends trying to become better readers.
And most importantly: read what’s interesting to you! There won’t be a test or an essay due at the end of the month. Make a list that includes authors and subjects that you personally find interesting, not books that you feel some kind of obligation to read.
4. Audiobooks and e-books make everything easy
If you’ve never listened to an audiobook, there has never been a better time to try it out. There are tons of apps, like Audible, Libby, and Hoopla, that offer subscription-based or even free access to audio recordings of millions of titles. Audiobooks are perfect for commuters, but like podcasts, they’re great background noise for all sorts of tasks, whether you’re cooking dinner, working out, or walking the dog.
E-books are helpful as well because they can help you save money, time, and resources in the long-run. If it’s 9 PM, but you’re desperate to start the next installment in a series, you can easily download a book directly onto your device. And while a Kindle or other e-reader is a great gadget for more literate folk, you can also get e-books directly on your phone or tablet, so there’s no need to go out and buy a new device. This leads to the final tip…
5. Keep a book on you wherever you go
If you always have a book on hand, it can become your go-to source of diversion whenever or wherever you’re trying to pass time. Think of all the hours you’ve spent on subways or in doctor’s offices, scrolling mindlessly through a social media feed when you could have been working on your reading goals instead. And if you choose to read an e-book on your phone or tablet, you can literally carry a page-turner in your pocket wherever you go.
In the end, becoming a better reader is all about finding the small habits that work for you. You might still be carrying the anxiety of a high school English class that demanded you read five chapters of a boring text every night. But becoming an avid reader as an adult is all about finding what works best for you, forming habits that fit into your schedule, and achieving goals you set for yourself.