‘If you could have a superpower what would it be?’, many people asked me over the years. Honestly, as far as I recall, I gave the exact same answer every time: To be able to read a book a day.
Realistically, it’s pretty difficult to achieve due to work. If there is anything guaranteed to occur on a daily basis, is the fact that you will be at work for 7 – 8 hours a day. Even if you set aside a couple of hours after work or before work for reading, there are many variables that could affect that schedule. Albeit, still doable somehow!!
Inspired by Hans and David, an ex-colleague who first came up with something similar, I’ve devised a simple plan that allows me to achieve one of my goals which is to read at least one technical book per month without the need to allocate time out of work.
With the following plan, in the last 3 months, I have managed to read 4 technical books while at work.
Regardless of the above, we should all take breaks to standup or walk a bit while at work. For the love of God, even Apple Watch reminds you to standup every now and then. For those of us that do not have an Apple Watch, there are 2 apps I’ve used in the past that could help you build a breaks regime, Pomodoro and Time Out. For Emacs users you can do something more fun. Do try it :)
Every 50 minutes, I take a long 10 minute break which is solely focused on reading. If you work 7–8 hours a day that means you could potentially read for about an hour while at work. Practically, you will not use all the breaks due to meetings, phone conferences, pair programming or simply to relax. But in my experience, you will take 4–5 long reading breaks everyday. Depending from the book and your reading skills, you could be reading about 20 pages per day. Given that an average book is about 250 pages, you will read one book every 2.5 weeks. Isn’t that great?!?
‘Sure but what about BAU?’ For those of you that are fortunate enough to never have heard that acronym before, it stands for Business As Usual. Why would you be ‘allowed’ to not work for 1 hour a day so you can read your books?
The above regime has a great side-effect. Since you are reading about 20 pages a day, you get to apply everything you learn on the spot. If you are reading a sales book, you could try it for your next call. If you are a developer, maybe you could try refactoring some CSS code using BEM or improve an SQL query.
Now I mostly focus on reading non-tech books in my free time and closer to the goal of one book a day.