I recently shared my strategy for finally making reading into a habit. The key takeaway was to redirect my habit of checking social media on my phone into reading a few pages of an ebook.
In order to make this change stick, I deleted every single source of distraction from my phone. That shaped my environment to be conducive to reading.
In my further research about forming reading habits, I came across an interview of Erik Barker, the bestselling author of “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” and the writer of a homonymous blog. (It has an amusing address: bakadesuyo.com.)
Erik Barker writes incredibly well-researched articles about living better lives through science of human behavior. What he has to say about reading probably has some merit. He says:
On my phone, I don’t have Facebook, I don’t have Twitter, I don’t have email. My instinct to check social media, I’ve redirected toward the Kindle app. I give myself three checks a day unless there’s an explicit reason where I know there’s an important email coming in. […] Most of my reading takes place […] on the Kindle app on the iPad.
His methodology is strikingly similar to mine, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more people independently discovered this “hack” of redirecting our social media cravings into reading more books.
This method boils down to two simple steps.
- Delete all social media and other distractions from your phone or iPad.
- Read books instead of checking social media.
Erik Barker goes on to explain that when we first start forming a habit, we should put in the “minimum viable effort.” That is, start so small that it’s silly to fail.
Admittedly, setting the bar too high and forcing myself to make drastic changes is a trap that I often fall into. If I’m taking out my phone to instinctively check social media, however, I’m not expected to read a lot. Just read a page while waiting on a line. Just read a few pages while taking a quick study break. The bar is as low as it gets.
So there’s the key to reading more without putting in more effort.
1 Cover image is from the Youtube interview, BOOKSTORES: How to Read More Books in the Golden Age of Content by Max Joseph.