“When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13). Paul is old. He’s frequently locked up. But he still asks Timothy for books and paper. He’s committed to reading and writing even in his advanced age.
Besides all the social data that indicates that those who read every day are more successful, Christians should understand the value of reading daily. Our Scripture, God’s very words, are written down in a book. His gospel is told in a story. Therefore, we should be committed to reading daily.
I’m gonna give you twenty ways you can read more. Twenty ways to get a step ahead. Twenty ways to use your time wisely. Next Thursday I’m gonna give you a handful of ways you can read less and prevent a burnout.
1. Plan Your Week.
You don’t need to be a schedule Nazi to plan your week. Have a general idea what you want to accomplish and when you want to accomplish it by. Having a schedule allows you to be flexible with the schedule. Don’t be shy. Schedule your tv time. Schedule your exercise. Schedule your reading. Fight for that time.
2. Think Quality, Not Quantity.
Take it slow out of the gate. Don’t schedule too much reading time if you’re starting from nothing. If you haven’t been regularly reading I would recommend starting with fifteen minutes of Scripture and ten minutes of another book. Add more time as you become comfortable.
3. Get Up 30 Minutes Earlier.
I’m not a morning person, but for those of you who are . . . why not get up thirty minutes early and do some of your reading? Or if you’re a night owl, why not stay up thirty minutes later and read? Or take a shorter lunch and read during part of it? The gist? Find time!
4. Swap Duties with Spouse.
If you are married, why not set aside a couple nights a week where one of you takes over for the night freeing up a solid chunk of time for reading? Just don’t forget to return the favor!
5. Include Kids.
If you have children include them in the reading. Find books that will excite, engage, and arrest them. Read a little bit every night. Be dramatic.
6. Use Travel Time Wisely.
If you have a long commute to work use your travel time wisely. Redeem the time! Use a service like Audible.com to purchase books so you can listen to them in the car. Or on your smart phone.
7. Read While Kids Practice, Play, Etc.
As parents so much of our life in wrapped around our kid’s frantic schedule--school, soccer practice, dance, and debate. When your kid is practicing, playing, or debating read something.
8. Set Short Term Goals.
Sets goals for what you want to read for a day, for the week, and for the month. Be flexible and ferocious in accomplishing your goals.
9. Challenge Friends.
Why not have a friendly challenge? Choose a book. Ask a friend to join you and challenge them who can finish it first. If you really want to make it fun, pick something with some girth. Or maybe it’s not who can finish it first but who can find a word the most times. Be creative.
10. Think Duration, Not Speed.
Read for a set time each day instead a certain number of chapters. If you set a certain number of chapters, you may read for speed when you should be reading for comprehension. If you fall short on the chapters for any reason you may become discouraged, whereas if you set realistic goals for duration you will more likely succeed and stick with it.
11. Build Your Reading Muscles.
Reading is like anything else. The more you read the better you read. The better you read the more you will comprehend. You will notice you find a reading pace that you are comfortable with while soaking in maximum information. It’s like running a race. Find your race pace when reading.
12. Read with Friends.
I already suggested challenging a friend. But why not start a reading group with your friends? Assign a chapter or two a week and meet together to discuss. Iron sharpens iron, right?
13. Stretch Before Reading.
You stretch before exercising so why not stretch for reading? Use the first five minutes or so of your reading time to chew on something easy. Read an article, blog, or news story. Something you are naturally interested in. An amuse bouche, if you will.
14. Keep a Book with You.
You have pockets of minutes all through out your day waiting to be discovered and taken advantage of. Keep a book with you. Something you can easily consume in bite size amounts and read when those minutes are available throughout your day.
15. Be Realistic.
Envision yourself as a super hero with special reading abilities beyond all measure? That’s awesome! When it comes to your daily reading set a routine, goal, and schedule that’s realistic. Easiest way to fail at reading more is to set unrealistic goals.
16. Make Reading a High Priority.
If you want to read more, make it a high priority. Don’t let easy distractions displace your reading time. I mean if your house is burning down or a friend is bleeding out by all means re-schedule your reading time. Otherwise stick with it. Create an environment you can easily do this in. Whether that’s in your home, in a room, on a train, in bookstore, or at your favorite restaurant. Parents, go treat your kids to a Chick-fil-a ice cream cone and let them play in the playground . . . then you read. Voila.
17. Be Flexible.
Stuff happens. Sometimes your friends will bleed out. Be prepared. Take a deep breath and go with the flow. Then the next day start reading again.
18. Keep Accountable.
Start a blog chronicling your reading adventures. Let me people know your goals. Encourage them to ask you about the books you’re reading. Find other readers who will sharpen and provide accountability for you.
19. Set a Long Term Goal.
How many books do you want to read in the year? How many in two years? How many in five? Ten? Set long terms goals and be ambitious.
20. Have Fun!
Don’t be that kind of person who likes books more than people. Books are awesome but people are even more awesome. Have fun with it. Don’t be grumpy. Read to the glory of God and see his creativity mirrored in the well-crafted words you are reading.
What Is Your Current Reading Routine? How Do You Plan on Improving It? Ideally, How Many Books Would You Reading During the Year?