5 Key Strategies to Read More This Year
The personal rules I follow to get more done this year
I’ve tried and fallen just short of the 52 or more challenge for the last two years. However, in that time I’ve also learned some fun ways of being inspired to read more.
I would track the cause of not reading 52 books to be trading reading for other opportunity costs. I run hot and cold when it comes to passion projects. For a while, I practice them perfectly but within a few weeks or months, they start to fall by the wayside.
Also, along the way last year, reading started to feel like a chore. I read because I want to learn and enjoy what’s in front of me. However, when setting high goals for the year ahead, often I start to look at it as just another chore.
My reading goal this year was to cut my regular goal in half. I chose to do this to make reading fun again. Oftentimes, when something becomes an expectation instead of a joy, we lose the motivation to do it. I know that I’ll probably read more than the count I placed on Goodreads (35) but the key point this year is to rediscover reading for fun.
We read for many reasons: to find inspiration, to enjoy the journey, to learn something we didn’t previously know and sometimes because it’s required. Regardless of the reason for reading, I wanted to give 5 strategies to get more done this year.
Find Your Ideal Way to Keep Track
Different tracking measures inspire different people. The key to this method is finding a strategy that inspires you.
A few ideas, from easy to difficult:
bullet journal: The beauty of tracking anything in a bullet journal is that it is your creation. You can get inspired and create spreads that look like a library, a shelf of books, bubbles for different book titles, or anything that is inspiring to your preferences. There is also the approach to just include the basic information- such as title, author, pages and date completed.
post on social media: I started tracking books back in 2017 by posting the title and date completed on my Instagram account. This year, I started the hashtag #Rachellareads2020. Any form of social media would work for this. An added bonus: if you have friends who also enjoy reading, it can be a fun challenge to see who can read more throughout the course of the year.
Goodreads: Goodreads was created for the purpose of keeping a TBR list, commenting on books currently being read and to keep track of the books that are read throughout the time using the app. Every year, there is a reading challenge that will track how far a reader is on their path.
Book blogging or logs: Depending on how these are done, they can take the most effort. Usually in logging/blogging, there is a write up after reading the book. It might come in the form of reviews, critiques, ratings or comparisons to other works. These would take the most time and effort to write, however, the time spent reviewing and thinking on what has been read is worthwhile.
Read Multiple Books at Once
On it’s surface, this suggestion might seem counterproductive. If the goal is to read as much as possible, how would reading more than one book at a time help the goal?
By reading more than one book, it’s easier to vary reading materials. I’ve found that some days I’m more inspired by self-help than I am by fiction. Other days, I’m more inspired by learning a new skill than poetry. Of course, the opposite is also true.
Each day, aim to read from a little of each book. Some days, the reading from one of the few will lock you in and you’ll get further with reading it than you might expect.
My personal practice is to set at least 1 book from the following for each month: non-fiction, poetry, fiction, and what I call “skill reading”. Skill reading is just reading done for the purpose of learning a new skill or building on the skills you already have. Once I finish one of the books from one of the categories, I select another book from the same type.
This may not be the sexy “I read a book in 24 hour” approach. However, small amounts over time add up.
Take On A Challenge
Challenges can be a double edged sword. They provide both motivation and disappointment if not met. However, the range of challenges out there for reading during the course of the next year is flexible enough to inspire.
The Bingo Card: Low-key and somewhat easy. On average, a bingo card would only take a month or two to complete. Often times themed, the bingo card has different categories written on each of the squares.
A reader could win at any of the forms of traditional bingo: vertical, horizontal, four corners, diagonal, etc. This is a great way to take on a reading challenge that would not be all encompassing.
Form the Alphabet: Good for a mid-range project. Read a book during the course of the year that the first letter in the title matches the letter of the alphabet. While each letter could have multiple titles, the goal is to have at least 1 title to represent each letter.
Make it easier: Remove the words: a, the, an and the like from the title.
52in52: Long term project. There are book clubs on Goodreads, lists on Popsugar and other forms listing specific categories. However, these lists do not have to be part of the project. They do a great job at making sure to encourage varied reading and books that may not have been considered beforehand.
However, the heart of the challenge is simple: read 52 books in a year (regardless of genre or form- comic books and poetry books would count just as much as a 500+ page novel). It’s a commitment, but it’s also a fun project.
Key Tip: Have a book/ keep a book everywhere
This cuts down on the excuse that you don’t have time to read. A few key places to leave books include: the car (audiobooks work perfectly here), the bathroom, a purse, at the office and in your room for light reading before sleep. Even getting in a few pages before a meeting help to work towards your reading goal.
Read what excites you at that present time- everything else is suggestions
There are a lot of people who suggest creating a book list at the beginning of the year. Depending on their level of commitment, this could go anywhere from 10 books I want to read this year to planning what to read, in detail, by month.
While creating a list is an important part of identifying where you want to go on the reading journey, it’s guidelines. It can be modified if your goals change or you load up on books that look interesting at the library. It can be added to or reduced as the year stretches on.
Also, don’t judge a book by it’s critics. As we all have different tastes, we all will have different opinions. I’ve read great books that other people disliked and what I would label as bad books that came highly suggested.
If you are a reader who judges heavily based on what another reader has said, I would suggest looking at their backlog. What books have you both read that your opinions are the same? What books did you differ on?
Allow for taking suggestions, but don’t rule a book out just because someone else didn’t like it. That’s the easiest way to shortchange your reading experience.
Also, if a book fails to capture you, don’t force yourself to read through it. Let it go. Maybe in a different season of life, it will strike your attention. However, if you find a book less than engaging, put it down.
These are the five strategies I’m keeping in mind to focus, motivate and inspire me in reading more this year. I’d like to see that 52 book mark happen again. However, the heart of this year will be finding the fun in reading again.