I’m not going to shock anyone with the headline: “Reading for 1 hour a day will advance your knowledge and learning rapidly”. It is common knowledge that learning should not end with a diploma. In this day and age we should be continuing to learn every single day.
About five years ago I decided to make an investment in myself and my future and read at least one hour a day. My goal was to read 100 books in the year.
By the end of the year, I had gone through many books and added so much new knowledge.
But starting out, I ran into the same struggles I had run into every time I got motivated to read. The story played out similar to a failed New Year’s resolution. I got gung ho about Reading and woke up early at 4:30 in the morning to spend as much time install it to reading studying contemplating and writing.
Quickly I realized that my excitement to read was one thing, but my ability to concentrate on what I was reading was still behind my desired level. Concentration for me was a struggle off the bat. I learned later that all the years of “multitasking”, so-to-speak, had ruined my ability to think about one task for a lengthy period of time. Whether it was jumping to check my emails and responding immediately, checking social media, or whatever the distraction may have been, my brain has been wired to focus for short bursts and then bounce away quickly.
Thus, I had to do some brain retraining just to be able to understand what I was reading. Stanford psychologist B.J. Fogg has been given credit for encouraging people to instill habits by starting with micro-habits. I never heard of BJ Fogg until later in life. However, I happen to do his approach myself by happenstance.
I simply started out reading five minutes at the time. No longer. It was all my brain could handle at that time before I was ready to think about my to do list, or what was going on with my basketball team.
But the truth is, your brain adapts. I was hoping that would be the case because I did not want to only be able to read for five minutes before breaking. Each month I was able to read for longer and longer stretches with full concentration.
I ended up switching to audiobooks as this allowed me to go through more books while doing tasks like driving, jogging, exercising at the light interval, or really just any moment I had. The fact that I started seeing results from my gained knowledge and gained enthusiasm daily, weekly, monthly has led to amazing results and growth!
Now, five years after starting my reading ritual, not only am I able to read for lengthy stretches with concentration levels that allow me to retain and understand what I am reading, but I also am able to stay focused on task for various activities at length.
So my suggestion if you have been wanting to implement reading, or listening to audiobooks into your life is to start out simply by reading whatever you like for five minutes at a time. But then start to increase those stretches week by week, and month by month as your brain starts to adapt.
Just like muscle strengthening exercises your brain will strengthen its ability to concentrate, and you will also note undoubtedly start to look forward to your next reading sessions. For me, reading & learning has become a healthy obsession in my quest for knowledge and growth.