Tips to read more this year

Would you like to be able to read 1 book a week? Do you feel like you could be reading more? Is reading a habit you’ve been trying to implement? Why do we sometimes struggle to finish books that we’re so keen to read?

My objective in this post is to motivate you to read more books and read faster. I’ll discuss a few simple strategies to help get the ball rolling. I’ll also talk about the benefits of reading and how to read faster.

Start with why

Your intentions are the driving force behind your behaviours. Starting with why allows you to put those intentions in perspective. Why do you want to read?

To gain knowledge and to share that knowledge with the world. To get smarter, more efficient & more productive. That’s what I see as the reason for reading. A critical question that I also ask myself is:

Who will this knowledge serve?
Ultimately, we don’t just gain knowledge for our own benefit. We use it to serve the world around us.

What are the benefits of reading?

How can I read more?

I’ll talk about this from my own point of view, as to what has been working for me. My objective for reading is to finish at least 4 books a month; 1 book a week.

It doesn’t just come naturally come to me. I sometimes find it difficult to sit down and read every day. I barely spent any time reading in school either, in fact I dreaded English.

I started a few years ago, reading roughly 1 book every 3 months. But action causes motivation as much as motivation causes action. (Don’t wait until you’re in the mood!) So I started reading more and more until I went from 1 book a month to 1 book a week. Here’s the strategy I now use (thanks to Jim Kwik):

  1. Write it down on your to-do list (stay consistent).
  2. Divide the total number of pages by the amount of days you aim to finish it by.
  3. Further divide the average number of pages by 3: giving you 3 sessions to read per day.

For example if I’m reading a 315 page book that I’d like to finish in 7 days, divide 315/7= 45 pages per day. To make that even simpler and read it over 3 sessions, divide 45/3= 15 pages per session.

Each reading session takes around 20 minutes, which makes it far more manageable than sitting down for an entire hour. I have a session in the morning, afternoon and evening to meet my daily reading requirements. Find what works best for you and stay consistent with it.

How can I read faster?

Avoid a concept called subvocalization. You can read faster than you can speak, therefore reducing this habit will allow you to improve your reading speed.

Subvocalization: “This occurs when you mouth or silently say words to yourself as you read them.”

To reduce subvocalization, count silently to yourself or hum as you read. This will prevent you from from saying the words as you read them.

Another trick I use to retain the information is to take notes. I usually write down the most important concepts or insightful quotes in a small journal, to keep the wisdom with me. The teacher always learns the most, so remember to also explain what you learn with friends and family.

Another very motivating reason for me to read is because it was the first verse brought down in the Quran. This emphasizes the importance of reading and attaining knowledge.

I’ve hopefully managed to convince you to start reading or to at least read a little more. Remember to always start with why and keep your intentions clear.

There are several benefits to reading: it sharpens your mind, lowers your stress, enhances your imagination and fosters empathy. Use a strategy to get more reading done and avoid subvocalization.

Happy reading! May the year ahead be filled with books, libraries, nature, adventures and joy. Stay present my friends. Now is all you have.

Some of the books that I’ve read which I highly recommend.

Warming up for 2020

How would you like to start your new year? Any new year resolutions? Are there aspects of your life that you’re excited to change?

Surely you have plans to start chasing your goals and build in healthier routines. I’d like to use this post to discuss how we can start the new year with a bang.

I’m not at all an advocate for waiting till new years to start making progress. Which is why I think this is such an important topic, to see how we can utilize the time we have NOW, to work towards our aspirations.

By starting small, dreaming big, loads of reflection and gratitude, I’d like to help you successfully transition into the new year.

There is a psychological advantage in starting the new year on a clean slate, as it builds momentum. So let’s dive into how we can use these tricks and utilize our brains most effectively.

Start now

It takes around 2 months of consistent dedication to a create a habit. If you start thinking now of what you’d like to implement in 2020, you’ll already have an advantage.

Remember that time is a relative concept, we each experience it differently; although it passes at the same rate. So don’t add too much pressure on yourself to perfect new routines at the very start of the year.

By using December to warm up to your goals, you’ll enter the new year ready to rumble.

Start small

Here’s something that I’ve mentioned before: Start small. It’s such a recurring pattern that I keep witnessing; diving into large goals and getting overwhelmed.

A mental trick is to start small and make the first step as easy as possible.

You’re trying to build up towards massive goals and become the best version of yourself. Move from conscious incompetence, to unconscious competence. Once it becomes comfortable doing the easy task, make it a little more challenging.

Remember: Growth only occurs in a state of discomfort.

Stay consistent

The key to all mastery? Consistency. This is something else that I often find when people fail to achieve their new year resolutions; they stop being consistent.

Self-love is essentially keeping at your craft and taking care of yourself. It’s pushing one more rep at the gym. It’s refusing to go out when you haven’t exercised or read for the day. It’s refusing to order pizza when it isn’t your cheat day. It’s journalling consistently and working on your emotional intelligence.

Be like the sun. It rises and sets everyday without fail.

“We are what we do repeatedly. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Yes that quote is a little overused, but it’s very true. First we form our habits, then our habits form us.

Don’t stop believing in yourself. Especially when it gets difficult. That’s where it counts the most. Everyone can make progress when it’s easy or when it’s a good day. It’s about making progress when it’s difficult or when you dread it.

Read, reflect, plan and grow

If you have been journalling throughout the year, now is the time to look back on those entries and see the changes you’ve endured. You’ve survived all the tough times and achieved so many goals. Celebrate your accomplishments!

Embrace the progress and reflect on your life in general. See what has worked and what hasn’t worked for you. There’s so much to learn from our own life, if we just give it a little more attention.

All the L’s that I’ve received this year are just Lessons.

“I never fail or lose, I always learn.” Keep that mentality and nothing can crush your momentum. Foster a growth mindset and your blessings will be so much clearer.

As for planning and growing, my post on time management sums it up pretty well. If you can form structure in your life, your days will become exponentially more productive. Don’t forget to write down your goals and visualize yourself achieving them. Consistently.

Stay mindful, give thanks & forgive

Stay mindful of your thoughts and behaviours. Notice the aspects of your mentality that are holding you back. Remove the self-doubt and negative self-talk. Once you become aware of a thought or emotion, it no longer holds any weight over you.

Don’t be afraid to feel. Don’t be afraid to fall or fail. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Life is a set of trials and errors. If you’re not willing to make mistakes, you’ll never come up with anything original.

Focus on your blessings. Think of all you have to be grateful for every single day. Think of how blessed you are to live through another year. Remember that death is the only guarantee we have in life, so live each day as if it’s your last.

This Kurzgesagt video perfectly explains gratitude! One of the best YouTube videos I’ve come across.

Do yourself another massive favour and learn to forgive. Holding onto grudges only causes more suffering for you. Does it make sense to start a new year with resentment of the past? Make peace with your demons and those who’ve done you wrong.

Not for them. For you. Forgiveness is another form of self-love. It’s a reflection of your character and the type of person you are. The more you’re able to forgive, the more peace and clarity you’ll witness in your life.

This post was meant to be a quick summary of my favourite topics. I want us all to try our best, each and every single day. Don’t wait for the new year to start. Now is all you have. You don’t know if you’ll have another day to live. Spread love, joy and peace to your best ability, each and everyday.

Smile more. Laugh more. Be grateful. Be merciful. And most importantly, don’t be crippled by fear. Life favours the bold and courageous. You are fully capable of achieving your wildest goals and ambitions, don’t let anyone (especially you!) stop you.