As a blogger, I love reading online. Blog posts are the online version of magazine articles, and who doesn’t love a good how-to or story.
However, this year, I made it a goal to read more books and be online less. It’s not that online reading is a BAD thing. In fact, I have a full list of binge-worthy blogs that I love to keep up with on a regular basis.
It’s more a matter of where that blog reading LEADS to… (AKA internet scrolling.)
Investing time in informational or “fun and relaxing” blog content is completely harmless. What I fear, is where my time and mind wanders when the blog post is read and I’m still perusing the internet, one quick finger swipe at a time.
How much of our days are we sinking into online browsing rather than into our personal growth or our lives? Sometimes, we need a reality check on the embarrassing and harsh truth of how much our web browsing and Instagram scrolling is REALLY cutting into our productivity.
You may be wondering how trading screen time for a novel increases productivity. Well, I don’t know about you but for starters, I feel much more productive investing my time into a good novel or an educational book rather than mindlessly scrolling the world wide web. Second, studies have shown that reading (something other than the internet) helps to reduce stress, improve focus, and boost creativity and productivity.
So where to start?
CREATE A PLAN
If there is ONE thing I have learned from setting goals, it’s that a goal without a plan is just a wish. Don’t spend your days, wishing you would read more as you check Instagram for the 50th time of the day. Sit down and create a realistic goal for how many books you want to read in a month or a year.
Will you purchase these books? Or rent them?
Buying books can quickly become expensive, especially if you pick up a book you’re not exactly in love with.
I try to rent books whenever possible, particularly fiction books. My two favorite places to snag books are the local library, and the digital library – Overdrive.com.
The local library is a great place to start if you truly enjoy the feeling of having a book in your hands.
The digital library is amazing for Kindle downloads or Audiobooks. I make it through twice as many books thanks to Audio! I often listen during a commute or while I’m working from home. The great thing about Overdrive is that you can listen on your web browser, or download the app on your phone.
Don’t forget, when renting, you’ll absolutely want to plan ahead as books are not always immediately available, even online!
I love owning books, but like I said, it can get a bit pricey!
So let me introduce Thrift Books. Thrift Books is an online store FULL of pre-owned books at an amazing price. Simply search the book you’re looking for, and browse the conditions available. Like New, Very Good, Good, and Acceptable. I’ve purchased books ranging from .50 cents to $8 – and they’re typically in great shape.
You can take 15% off your first order here! Sharing is caring – that code is 15% off for you and for me!
You can also purchase books through an Audible subscription, Kindle Unlimited, or at any local store that sells books!
Good leaders read. If you want to know what books are worth investing your time and energy in, simply ask. Ask someone who you look up to if they read and if they have any recommendations to send your way.
These days, I rarely pick up a book UNLESS it was recommended. There are so many books available and I love knowing that I’m investing my time into something worthwhile. On that note, I’m always happy to share a good book with a friend and you can find my GoodReads account and updated reading list here!
Follow along with my account to see my 2019 challenge progress, recently reviewed books, and any updates that I make to my reading wish list (or couldn’t finish list!)
Download the Goodreads App on your phone or tablet, so that you can stay up to date and never again say “What was the name of that book I wanted to read…”
SET ASIDE TIME
Simply making a list of books won’t do when you have a big goal like this. You need to be purposeful in setting aside time to read, and focus on the words before you.
I love to invest 15 minutes into my daily Bible reading first thing in the morning. My Bible App is stored on my Kindle reader, so I grab it first thing as I hop out of bed each morning. I use the app “Bible Study” and am currently following the NLT one-year plan.
I also make it a point to put down my phone while I’m eating lunch and instead pick up a book. It’s an easy way to sneak in 15-20 minutes of my current personal development book and allows for a little break in my work day.
Finally, each evening I spend anywhere from 30-60 minutes reading in my fiction novel. I charge my phone for the night in our bathroom, out of sight out of mind, and again pick up my Kindle or current novel and immerse myself into the fairytale, mystery, or romance of that week.
Weekends are for personal time, getting things done around the house, visiting with family & friends, and investing time in my own hobbies. But if it’s a slow weekend or a work weekend for Zach, I may spend a small portion of time catching up on some reading!
Oh and that whole digital detox thing? Every time I find myself reaching for my phone? I try to be intentional about picking up my book instead. Five minutes of mindless browsing traded in for a few extra pages with Jamie and Claire in Scotland, I’ll take it.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
We often way over complicate our goals and it’s the one thing that keeps us from accomplishing them. Reading should be relaxing and enjoyable – not an added stressor to life.
As I mentioned above, if I don’t like a book, I don’t finish it. I have forced myself to the end of way too many books only to finally learn that if I don’t love it within the first 100 pages, I’m probably not going to.
I make my books easily accessible. For the LONGEST time, I swore off of e-readers. Honestly, I absolutely love having a real, page turning book in my hand. But life, being what it is, I have found that it’s easiest for me to start, read, and finish a book if I have easy access to it and have learned to love my e-reader.
Try out a variety! I read fiction, faith, marriage, personal development – you name it. They are all on the list! I add a large variety of books into my schedule to make it interesting, and diversify my selection!
Make time even when there isn’t any. Last year was the first year that I started listening to Audiobooks and I must admit, I fell in love. I spend a LOT of time editing throughout the Spring and Fall and listening to Audiobooks is the perfect way to add some reading to my day, while still accomplishing my work! Listen to books during your commute, while you wash dishes, fold laundry, etc.
What do you think? I know you can make it happen, even if you start slow and trade that screen time to flip through the pages of your favorite magazine at lunch. Your eyes, your brain, and your heart will thank you!