How to Read 30 Minutes of Nonfiction Every Day [30DHC]
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Education shouldn't end after school.
To live a better life, you should make a commitment to read and improve your mind.
This is especially true if you're self employed like me
Really, the only way to stay competitive in my field is to develop the reading habit.
The entrepreneurial market is constantly evolving, so you can't afford to grow complacent. Education is how you learn new techniques that separate you from the competition.
For the third month (March 2013) of the 30 Day Habit Challenge (30DHC), I decided to get back into the habit of reading 30 minutes of nonfiction every day.
Here’s what happened with this challenge.
30DHC for March 2013 – Read 30 Minutes of Nonfiction Every Day
Here’s an overview of my attempt to re-develop the reading habit.
#1 – Reason Why
I love reading – it's one of my favorite ways to end the day. Unfortunately, I tend to read “junky” fiction books that don't exactly improve my mind. For a long time, I did read lots of nonfiction. Unfortunately this habit died out when I had to dedicate more time to my online business.
Why is it important to develop a habit of reading self help nonfiction?
Because reading makes you smarter.
Something magical happens when you read a quality nonfiction book. You introduce your brain new thoughts and ideas. Do this on a regular basis and you'll learn how to approach any problem from a variety of angles.
Reading is especially important if you're self-employed like me. I didn't go to school to learn how to run an online business. Instead, I had to cobble together a strategy, taken from hundreds of different experts. So most of what I do now started out as an idea I got from a good book.
The reading habit is how I stay competitive.
#2 – Description
For March's 30DHC, I set a simple goal to read for 30 minutes every day. To “incentivize” this activity, I stuck to the books that focused on the skills/information I'm currently working to develop:
- Writing as a daily routine
- Habit development (for this site)
- Business systems and strategies
- How to maximize my “per hour output”
To make sure I “stuck” with this habit, I created a simple strategy:
1. Schedule reading during my lunch time.
2. Set a simple timer to make sure I read for at least 30 minutes.
3. Use the Habits Pro app to track this daily ritual.
4. End work 15 minutes early and unwind with a book.
5. Keep a book in my car that I can read while I'm forced into time wasting activities (like waiting on a line.)
6. Turn off the television when there isn't anything good to watch.
The six steps helped incorporate a 30 minute activity into my day, without requiring a dramatic shift in my schedule.
#3 – Obstacles
I got lucky with this 30DHC – I didn't encounter any sort of obstacle along the way. In fact, this was the easiest habit I've ever developed.
There are two reasons why this habit worked:
- I had a detailed strategy for when to read and how to fill “wasted” time
- I was doing an activity that I've always found enjoyable
Never underestimate the power of doing something you enjoy. Reading can be a grueling activity if you don't like the subject matter. But it's a lot of fun if you're reading something that directly applies to your personal interests.
#4 – Results
I read a lot more than I initially anticipated:
- Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeiser
- The Four-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (for the 4th time)
- No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs by Dan Kennedy
- Willpower by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- Do the Work by Steven Pressfield
- The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal
I know this amount pales in comparison to what some people read in a month. But it's not a bad start for a new habit.
More importantly, I found that this habit had a positive impact on my writing. What I wrote in March and April dramatically improved because I was able to relate the content to specific concepts I learned from these books. Odds are, this trend will continue as I now have a habit where I read for 30 minutes every day.
#5 – Verdict
I honestly fell that a lot of my success online is due to a willingness to learn new ideas. Like most people, I get busy and sidetracked during my workweek. So it often doesn't seem that important to read every day. But, this 30DHC has taught me the importance of exposing yourself to new ideas on a daily basis.
How to Develop Your Reading Habit
It's not that hard to develop the reading habit. All it takes is a simple daily commitment and a flexible strategy.
Here's what I recommend:
- Pick books that directly relate to a personal interest or skill you'd like to develop.
- Set aside a specific time each day where you'll read (lunch breaks work really well).
- Keep a book in your car (or a Kindle book on a mobile phone) you can use to fill “wasted” time.
- Track this habit on a daily basis.
- Stop watching T.V. programs that you don't really like and read a book instead. [See 99 things you can do rather than watching TV]
If you are looking for some books to read for your own reading habit, let me recommend a few good categories with some great books:
- Personal Development Books
- Habit Change Books
- Productivity Books
- Simplicity, Declutter and Minimalism Books
- Fitness Books
- Healthy Living Books
- Relationship Books
That's really it. Do these five things and you'll add an enjoyable habit that can also make you a little bit smarter. 🙂