Full of Reading Guilt? Here Is How to Start Reading

In the tech world where you’re surrounded by incredibly smart people, you want to keep up. And when you want to keep, you might think about how to start reading more books because some of the most successful entrepreneurs and employees are constantly reading books and learning every day.

Yet, with so much to do in one day, it can almost feel impossible to find the time to sit down and read. It’s easy to convince yourself that there’s always something else more pressing, or you’re just simply too tired to read right now.

Not reading can fill you full of guilt. It doesn’t help where there are designated blogs and they drop subtle gloats about how much they read. Or, when the advice is just “read faster.”

As content marketers are now writers too, it’s so important that you read.

If you don’t read much, you won’t get much better at writing. In his essay on “How Language Really Works,” Dan Kurland explains. “Reading is primary. One can write only as well as one reads.”

But don’t let that fill you with guilt because there is a simple trick to reading more every day and it’s not even that hard to pursue.

It’s just creating a systematic approach to reading, and the first is to make it a habit.

How to make reading a habit

Starting new habits is easy, it’s just sustaining them which is the hard thing. When I first implemented reading as a habit I knew two things:

  1. I know that not reading is a bad habit, so breaking that could happen in 30 days.
  2. But having the expectation of being able to read naturally everyday was going to take some work, apparently 66 days of work to make it a permanent habit

Don’t rely just on your feelings to get you in the mood to pick up a book.

The best bet to make reading a habit is to implement a reading schedule.

When you implement a reading schedule (or at least a set time to designate to reading), you respect it as a practice. And when you commit to it that’s when the most powerful habits take place and set in stone.

You have to plow through those dips, where you just don’t feel like it, or you’re too tired and realize the greater reward is at the end of those 66 days.

For me, along with morning journaling, I knew the best time I could implement reading was in the morning on my commute.

Set the bar low

One of the biggest mistakes most people will make is overshooting too early.

Like reading 500 pages in 3 days, feeling exhausted then losing hope.

Or, aiming to read 500 pages in 7 days and only managing 100, losing hope and just saying you can’t do it.

Creating a habit is about sustaining minimum, viable effort – like reading only 5 pages a day.

Just reading a mere 5 pages a day will help you read more

I decided to commit to James Altucher’s “read 5 pages a day” mini-habit to improve my life.

If I read 5 pages a day from non-fiction books, then in a year I will have read 1830 pages of knowledge. And each page I read will build upon the pages I’ve read before. – James Altucher.

At first, my worries around this technique were completely unreasonable like:

  • What if I’m mid-chapter or the chapter ends on the next page?
  • If I read 5 pages when I’m tired, will I take it in?
  • My train journey ends in 10-minutes what if I can only manage 3 ½ pages?

I got too caught up in the semantics of this technique. As usual, my procrastination habit of perfectionism came out again (where I’d rather do something perfectly or not at all).

But when I started to think more rationally, it wasn’t about letting feelings guide my way, it’s about continuing that systematic approach.

How to start reading: force yourself into a habit

Don’t let guilt settle in when you want to start reading, there are ways to combat the guilt around reading.

Respect reading as a practice, and begin to carve out time to do it. Don’t pressure yourself into reading too much too soon, a mere 5 pages a day is manageable even on your worst days.