I used to read more when I was in high school, reading novels, comics, and fiction to be exact. My favorite books back then are the Harry Potter series, goosebumps, twilight and chicken soup for the soul. When I got to University, I read less, I was busy with studying my major in Uni. Well, the book I read is law-related books. I read it because I have to, not because I enjoy it. I need to get good grades so I study hard. Then comes work life and motherhood life. I stopped reading for years, I forget how long it was. I was busy with my life.
My first job requires a lot of work, I always go home late at night, sometimes I have to spend the night at the office to catch up with the deadlines. I barely have a normal sleep pattern, let alone have time to read. Then I become a mother, my life gets busier. I do not even have a thought to read. Fast forward now, I am in a different job, and my child is not an infant anymore. I have more time now. But reading was not the thing that comes up first in my mind whenever I have spare time. It is always social media scrolling, watching YouTube, or binge-watching TV series.
At first, I was thinking to myself “Hey it is been quite a while I have not read books, why don’t I try to start reading again?” Then I start reading this book titled “Girl Boss” by Sophia Amoruso. I open the book, I start reading it. I read it very slow. 3 months later, I still have not reached the half of the book. You know why?
Because instead of reading it, I just carry it everywhere. I put it in my bag and thinking “I will read this in the café while waiting for my friends to arrive” or “I will read it tonight”. When I sit down and read the book, on the third page and I am already feeling sleepy. I never did really finish the book. I return the book to the owner because it has been too long and I don’t seem to be able to finish it.
It turns out, it was so hard for me to start reading again especially when I don’t have the motivation to read. Are any of you experiencing the same thing?. Here are the things I do to start my reading journey.
Find A motivation
You could motivate yourself by choosing books you are interested in. My motivation is self-improvement. To be able to gain more knowledge on the things I am interested in. Currently, I am into self-improvement so, I begin to look for books related to self-improvement such as, how to manage time efficiently, eliminate bad habits, learn about growth mindset, and personal finance. Pick a book that makes you curious or a book that helps solve your problem. For example, you having trouble on how to manage your money, of course, a personal finance book could be the answer to you.
I begin my reading habit slowly, by allocating 30 minutes a day to read whatever book I like. The earlier I was reading about 3 pages in 30 minutes. I got distracted a lot on my phone. I look at my phone more then I look at my books when I am reading. All of the notification that pops up on my phone is just hard to ignore. So, to tackle this problem, I put my phone in a different room therefore I would not hear the notification of phone calls. After all, it is just for 30 minutes. With my phone far away from me, I get to read more pages of the book.
Eliminate excuses “I am too busy, I don’t have time to read”.
I am busy, but if I really want to build this reading habit, I must make time for it. Generally, we have more free time than we want to admit. There is free time when you are on the train, bus or car commuting back home. Especially in Jakarta, when insane traffic is an everyday reality. You will at least have 1 hour to reach home as well as going to work in the morning. You have 2 hours of spare time.
Remember all those hours you spend on binge-watching, scrolling through social media or watching TV? I have a screen time app on my phone, so I will know how much time I spend looking at my phone. It used to be 4 to 5 hours in total and on the weekend it could increase to 7 hours. Wow, look at the time I have wasted (I am aware of this and I regret it a lot). Nowadays I set a limit on my phone on social media app, so that when I reached the limit my phone will remain and refrain me from opening it more.
We do have free time, but we often use it for impractical things. You are not too busy. If you have 2 hours to scrolling through social media, you certainly have 30 minutes to read.
Thanks to technology, it is easier to read a book in a more practical way. Technology such as kindle really helps me step up my reading habit. Kindle is an e-reader device created by Amazon that allows you to read an e-book. If you do not want your house filled up by the books you purchase, you can easily switch to tools like kindle. Purchase your favorite book in e-book form, and you will not need a new bookshelf. It is small, light and easy to carry around.
The other technology you can use is Audiobook apps, such as Audible and Blinkist. I have tried listening to a couple of audiobooks in Blinkist app. These kinds of apps summarize book content makes it easier for us to gain information about book content in 15 to 20 minutes (in Blinkist apps). Clearly listening to an audiobook can save more time than reading books. Usually, I can read 20 pages in an hour, and days to finish reading 1 book. I try both listening to the audiobook (the Blinkist app) of a book I have not read at all and the audiobook of a book I did already read. It feels like you listening to someone tell you about the book they read, the content, the highlight and the insight of the book. Compare to reading a real book (or e-book), listening to audiobooks is a short cut to understand a book content. However, it cannot comprehend the entire knowledge you might acquire from reading the whole book.
Making it a habit
If you wanted to incorporate something new into your daily life like reading, make it a habit. Since I try to read continuously every day, I make reading as a part of my daily routine. I have been doing it for a while now. As I said, in the beginning, I read for 30 minutes a day, which I gradually increase to one hour a day. I have set a goal of reading 1 book every month. If I cannot skip a day on reading, then the next day I will read more. Also, the weekend is a good time to read more too. When I am able to read 1 book in a month, I want to increase it to 2 books in a month. Set a strategy that suitable for your schedule, you don’t have to force yourself too much. Just be consistent and disciplined. When I did not read, I will feel like something is missing. Like something is wrong and incomplete. I am saying this not to brag. This is one of a useful trick for me to remain myself to always read, to continuously learn and elevate my mind. I hope this can help you to start your reading journey too.