I have always been a reluctant reader. Mainly because it hated the idea of conforming to the ideals my school wanted me to adhere to. At school reading was a chore and so I hated every minute of reading a book.

Later in life, I started to realise that books were one of the best tools available to progress your knowledge, career and self confidence. Especially considering that I work in an industry that consistently changes at a rapid rate, reading became one of the most important aspects of success. Reading become something I enjoyed however it still did not change the fact that I battled to develop a discipline of reading. I would read a book and then take a break for almost a year sometimes. It seemed ridiculous that I couldn’t find the time to devote to something that was such a great self development tool.

So at the beginning of 2017 I decided to fix the problem and made some big changes to my approach to reading and my life. This lead to me spending many hours reading and taking my reading average of 2-3 books a year to 23 in 2017. So if there are any people out there looking to build a reading discipline I though I’d share the changes I made.

Mindset Change: You don’t have to finish a book

This was big for me. One of the reasons I would stop reading is that I would use the fact that I hadn’t finished my last book as a reason not to start a new one. It occurred to me that the old book was too boring to keep my attention and that I should stop reading it. Clearly it was not entertaining me, or telling me anything new, so it has no value to me. This meant it was time to stop trying to finish the book and move onto another one that looked more promising.

Mindset Change: Be clear about what you want to learn

If you’re like me and you read to learn, then you should start by asking what you’d like to learn. For me I found three key topics that I wanted to learn about. I love learning about leadership, need to stay on top if new digital technologies and strategy and I wanted to answer a number of theological questions. I i decided to have three books on the go at any time.

Book one: A leadership development book
Book two: A digital or technology book
Book three: A theological book

Life Change: Make reading convenient

Once I had the topics i wanted to learn about I bought a bunch of books on the topic and made reading as convenient as possible.

I realised that I don’t like reading off a screen so I stopped buying Kindle book and focused on hard copies. I realised that reading was something I could do to relax and get away from a mobile device.

Then I put a book in each destination where I would most likely read. The first was next to my bed, the second was on the side table beside my favourite couch in the house, and the third was in my briefcase for all the time i spent travelling. Having these books easily accessible meant I had less reasons not to read and by default i began reading more. However the most important step was the next one.,

Life Change: Remove distractions

Life is full of distractions so I set out to identify them and change some behaviour.

One of the reasons I stopped reading Kindle Books was because I used the Kindle App on my phone and iPad. These devices send you notifications all the time while you’re reading to take your attention away from the book and to another app on the device. So Kindle was out!

Then I moved my phone charger from next to my bed to my dresser which is far away from my bed. My evening routine changed from sitting on my phone until I fell asleep to reading a book. Then something strange happened, on days where I didn’t have to wake up early I would pick up my book to read, instead of my phone.

Mindset Change: Set a reading goal

Im a fairly competitive person so being able to track my progress against a goal was great, especially because I hit my goal within six months of the year. If you’re like me and would like set a goal then I can recommend Goodreads Reading Challenge.

Life Change: Review Books
I started making short review on Goodreads about books I read. This helped me a lot because it forced me to actively think about what I had learnt and what it meant to me. It made the learning more real and useful. I would then add these reviews on social media which opened up the door to meet some new friends who shared similar reading interested.

So whats the plan for 2018?
Well I have doubled my reading goal and enlisted the service of Blinkist a book summary app. I find that some books I speed read as they spend a lot of time laying the foundation behind the thinking. This is fine, unless you understand the background and really just want to learn the new information the author is adding to the body of knowledge. So I want to use the app to gleam the insight from these books that I have a lot of background to. I am hoping that it speeds up my learning capacity.