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A Daily Reading Habit In 4 Steps (A How-To For People With No Time)

Will December be the month you finally pick up a book again?

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1. Step 1: Slowly turn your attention towards books.

Spending 30 minutes immersed in a book seems like an eternity to a non-reader. In today’s fast-paced, technology-laden world, it’s easy to fall off the reading wagon, even for a voracious reader — I should know, it happened to me too.

Once you’re off, you’re off for a while and the time issue soon goes from cause to cover-up. It becomes a welcome excuse for something that runs deeper:

You don’t think you can read. At least not for long stretches at a time.

That’s why the first thing I’m showing you in the course is that your attention span isn’t as bad as you think.

However, it still helps to start slow. So just start by re-introducing books back into your environment.

Wherever you spend most of your day, make sure there’s a book with you. If you read primarily on a Kindle or ebook reader, the same principle applies. Keep it around to expose your attention to it on a constant basis.

Notice I’m not talking about reading yet. I don’t care if you open it at all. This is about making room in your life for something that’s important to you, nothing more.

2. Step 2: Prove yourself wrong about your limiting belief.

As long as you think you don’t have time to read, it’ll be really hard to actually make time for it, let alone do it.

This is where the media diet comes in. Try going on one for 24 hours. Here are four different levels to choose from:

Level #1: No news. Don’t consume any kind of news today. No newspapers, no seven o’clock news on TV, no opening the CNN app, no staring at the stock market reporter while waiting at the DMV and definitely no flipping through tweets about politics.

Level #2: No news, no TV. This includes everything from level 1, but removes TV completely. No movies, whether on Netflix, cable, or DVD, no documentaries and no TV shows (yes, you can watch Game of Thrones tomorrow and the world will keep on turning).

Level #3: No news, no TV, no video in any form. Level 2, but now the entire medium of video is removed. If you now think “Where’s the difference?” that’s a good sign. Youtube junkies, you know what I’m talking about. No music clips, no funny cat videos, no dancing GIFs and no VLOGs (Casey Neistat's cancelled his anyway).

Level #4: No news, no TV, no video, no audio. This is the ultimate media meltdown. Level 3 + eliminating all sources of audio other than mother nature. No radio, no listening to CDs, no audiobooks, no Spotify, no podcasts, and no calling in on a teleshopping show to listen to the jingle when placed on hold (bored minds get creative).

Whatever level most reflects your daily life, pick the one above that.

The only way to show yourself there’s still time to read left in your day, and that missing out on something else for it won’t kill you, is to make this a challenge.

3. Step 3: Randomize your starting point, so you can start fast and keep adjusting.

Niklas Goeke / Via

What’s the hardest part of creating a new habit? Doing it for the first time. Whatever you friction you can take out of actually reading again, remove it.

In this case, let me remove some for you. With habits that can hardly cause physical damage, like reading, where you start matters much less than how well you keep adjusting afterwards.

So why not pick a random reading time and try to spend that amount reading your book?

Just click one of the three "box links" below and give yourself the gift of reading.

You’ll be randomly assigned one of the following numbers of reading minutes: 5, 15, 25.

Open Box 1.

Open Box 2.

Open Box 3.

Since the risk of picking a reading time that’s too ambitious is essentially zero, just go for it. Based on whether you manage to read this long or not, you can then adjust to the next higher or lower level tomorrow.

4. Step 4: Anchor your reading habit to an existing one, so you don’t have to remember it.

Setting up a trigger, habit anchoring, implementation intentions, there are several names for this, but the goal is the same:

Putting your new habit on autopilot.

Doing this only takes 2 steps:

1. Pick a habit you’re already going every day (good or bad).

For example, if you know you have a Snickers bar every day after lunch, always check your email before you go to bed, or pick up your kids from school every day, these are routines you can use.

These can be bad routines just as much as good ones, like running on the treadmill, shutting off your electronics or brushing your teeth.

2. Anchor your reading habit to that habit.

Now all you have to do is anchor your reading habit to that existing habit. Place your book on the candy shelf, keep your reading app next to your mail app or drop off your Kindle next to the key tray in the lobby.

To make this more powerful, write it down.

Use this simple recipe: After I [existing habit], I will read for X minutes.

(X is the number you got above)

Since it’s better to be safe than sorry, setting up an additional, external trigger can be helpful.

This could be a simple alert on your phone’s calendar, saying “It’s Time 2 Read!” at the same time each day.

Pro tip: Many phones now even have location-based reminder functionality, which allows you to be reminded every time you enter your home, for instance.

5. Closing The Chapter

And that’s how you build a daily reading habit in a nutshell! If you want to learn more, I've even extended these lessons and put them into an easily digestible email course format. Comes with 22 free books :)

If you’ve enjoyed this post, and if you’re committed to turning a new page in December (pun intended), then you should check it out here.

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