Tips, Not Prompts: a guide on how to build and keep the reading habit - hosted by bibilly

πŸ“š Make time, any time. Or: the 2minute rule for reading
Obviously, you don't have to make time for reading. However, if reading is essential to you, if it interests you, it's only natural to make some time for it. And, depending on the level of your interest, you'll also have to give up on other things, things you care to do less than you care to read (more and better). Hence, tip 1: know your tastes and needs.

The good news is that with an e-reader at hand, it will be much easier to make time since you can take it everywhere and open it any spare moment. No matter where you're at, instead of scrolling aimlessly through Instagram, open your kindle, which, granted, can be difficult at first, but you don't have to do it a lot, or intensely β€” just do it regularly. Let's say you must wait in line for half an hour every day. Try reading for 10 minutes as soon as you arrive. Easier yet: make it a rule to at least pick up your e-reader to choose/open a book. Eventually, you won't have to choose between your e-reader and your phone and will find yourself unconsciously starting the book and reading it for 5, 10, and then the whole 30 minutes. Reading should be an ordinary time-filling activity, the kind of thing you reach for first when there's a free moment and no immediate task β€”that is, a habit.

It's also crucial, however, to have a specific moment in your routine dedicated to reading. It would be better to create a whole routine that includes everything in your life first, but you can still build a reading habit without such organization. First, I'd recommend getting your daily reading done right after breakfast, at home, before any other nonimmediate task, or on your way to work/school. Anything you can read in that short time counts: one page, one poem, one chapter. That way, you won't feel guilty if you don't have the energy or forget during the day. If that's still difficult for you, use the temptation bundling strategy and commit to picking up the phone only after reading for at least 2 minutes (or: 5 pages for each candy you end up eating throughout the day). You'll probably read more than that, and with time, you'll feel calmer in the morning.

Now, let's say the time you prefer reading is before bed. Make it a rule to read as much as you can every night, whether 200 or 2 pages. For example: if you went to sleep late and have to wake up early, read for 5 to 10 minutes; if you're on a nice sleeping schedule, read for 30 minutes to 1 hour; if you're on your lazy day or vacation read for two or more hours. Don't exert yourself (reading before bed should be a therapeutic activity), but do it every single night unless something extraordinary happens or you really don't have the energy. If it helps, add reading to your to-do list (see tip 5). I'm a pathological procrastinator and my memory is terrible, so I list every little thing I have and want to do, stacking the daily habits to turn them into a single simple task (e.g.: stretch-make my bed-drink water-take a shower-have breakfast-all of it without checking social media). Therefore, if you want to make reading a new habit in your life, try pairing it with other existing good habits, such as watering the plants, brushing your teeth or eating a meal at the right time. Lately, I've been listening to audiobooks every night after my skincare routine, just before bed, setting a timer on the audiobook app in case I fall asleep and can't pay attention to it anymore β€” a habit chain that has been essential for not breaking my reading streak on bad days. Plus, it has diversified my system not just in terms of formats but also genres, as I've finally started to tackle my nonfiction TBR, and places since now I don't take my kindle and its screen light to bed, reserving it for daytime reading in the backyard where my brain can enjoy some sunlight, for example.

Moreover, think about your reading moment in terms of quality reading time, not the number of pages read, since that will always depend on the book and when you pick it up. Sometimes you'll read more, sometimes less, but the ending result (total of pages and books) is bound to be satisfactory if you're consistent. And remember that, in order to have a quality reading moment, one needs to allocate not only time but also energy. You might not want to have only the bus ride on your way home as your reading time, for instance, since you'll probably be hungry after a long day at school or work and reading will only make you more tired. On the other hand, not every reading moment has to be super "productive". The goal is to build a good habit, not run a marathon.

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