Always Be Reading!

Was the subject line in an email from my partner/CEO last week.

He and my other partners read at an incredible/kind of alarming pace. I don’t think they sleep. I do think the message is important. I read every day and I have two or more books on the go at any given time. It’s a paramount component of lifelong learning, self-improvement and personal discipline. If we take just a little bit of time to read every day we will learn something new and learning something new is better than learning nothing. Now you’re thinking “thank you Captain Obvious,” but consider the following. I believe that everything we consume may and will contribute to the decisions we make and our decisions are only as good as the information we have on hand. Are we going to base our decision after having studied the issue or an episode of Roseanne? I recognize We are all very busy and it’s difficult to carve out time from our busy days to fit reading in so here’s how I do it.

First is easy, for me anyway. I read in bed before I go to sleep. I generally try to keep any screen away from me when I get in bed including TVs, tablets, and phones. There’s data around the affects of glaring at the blue light of our screens, which can be mitigated with tools like fl.ux and iPhone let’s you turn down the blue light between specified times, but I don’t think it’s enough. It’s more around cognitive load and focus. If you check your email right before you go to sleep your mind is focused on that and it prevents you from falling asleep, but I digress. Instead, I elect to read an old fashioned real world, tactile book. It refocuses my mind out of work and any distractions of the day. This not only helps me learn, it helps me sleep. But don’t take my word for it, check the data. I have , over the course of the past few months, been documenting and measuring my sleep including the activities I do right before I sleep including things like reading, watching tv, playing board games, painting, etc. I use an app called Pillow and so far reading before sleep gives me the best night sleep. I’m currently reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and some of my favourites before bed include: Sum by David Eagleman, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Tao Te Ching by Laozi, and any book by Atul Gawande to name a few.

The other time of day I steal to read is in audio book form. I recently moved a 40 minute drive away from work so it gives me one and a half to two hours of audio book listening time every day. I love audio books because I can do it driving or I can just pop in headphones any time anywhere. I’m currently listening to the Male Brain by Louann Brizendine and some of my favourites include: Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin (love this book), Tao Te Ching (yes I know I read it too), Obstacle is the Way and Ego is the Enemy both by Ryan Holiday. I get a lot of these recommendations from the Tim Ferriss Show podcast which is another thing I listen to while driving. I find it as valuable as any audio book.

There’s my uber simple playbook for fitting reading into every day. I do think if you really want to get better in any capacity, even in simply being more creative or communicate better, finding time to read every day should be an important, not necessarily time consuming, part of your daily life.

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