5 ways to increase productivity for reading books
Want to read 20 books in one year? Just read. Want to write a book this year? Pick up a pen and set a goal and don’t quit until you get there. Want to run a marathon? Buy a pair of shoes and run the first mile.
The only thing standing in your way is you. That has always been the truth and it always will be. Sure, bad books, no paper and bad weather can slow you down from those goals, but it’s you. You decide. You make the choices in your life that impact your productivity and your inevitable conclusion.
I try to do five things each day to keep myself organized and focused so that I don’t have a single excuse to use as to why something didn’t happen. In my life, “the buck stops with me.” And so it must be with you, too.(1)
- Read at down moments
I started off this post with a goal about reading because I believe everyone likes to read. It’s just tough to carve out the time. We get up, go to work, come home, cook dinner, do laundry, do the dishes and then the last thing any of us want to do is “homework.” But it doesn’t have to be like that. I’m lucky in that I live in New York City and ride the subway each and every day, which affords me plenty of reading time. But I still go home and read a bit each night. Sometimes it is my RSS feed, a magazine or the current book I’m reading, but I never stop. It can be as simple as pulling out your phone, iPad or magazine while you’re waiting in line somewhere, or while in the bathroom. (Yes, I said it.) But I hate wasting time and we need every single second!
- Use Evernote like your life depended on it
It has been said by the founders of Evernote that they want to build a program that is smarter than your own brain. And for me, they are well on their way. If you’ve never heard of it, Evernote is a simple application that stores information. I use it to store travel information, meeting notes, random thoughts and ideas, and blogs. Why? Simple, it’s searchable and all organized. For instance: in the past, if I wanted to know what I’ve read that deals with time management (or some other subject), I would have to dive into the crevices of my brain to remember all the books I have ever read and then go to those typed up notes. But now, by putting all my research and book notes into Evernote, I can search topics, authors and ideas and get everything on one screen that I have ever put into the system. It really is smarter than me and saves me a ton of time and stress.
- Get on a scheduled sleep pattern
I love the mornings. But I also love working at night on my hustle projects. But I wasn’t living a balanced life. So, I have spent the past two months changing my sleep patterns. I am now up at around 6:00 a.m. each day to put in 150 minutes of hustle-time in the morning, then off to my 9-5, before coming home and relaxing. I’ve created an ideal day and I do everything to stick to it. It has added to my productivity because I know, unlike the past where I would work for hours into the night), that I have a finite amount of time to get the work done.(2)
- Have hours of work, and hours of play
This really is just a continuation of the last point, but it is important to have a balance of work and play. It’s hard for me to admit, but I let life slip over the past year. But not anymore. There may be one to two nights a week where I have work that needs to be done, but I limit those now. My life and my health were suffering, and so was my productivity because I was taking on way too much and doing poor work. But scheduling more of my day, I have given myself (strangely enough), more time.
- Self-reflect and learn to say no
I like to be involved, but there is a limit to what I am able to take on. Much like managing my time, I wasn’t managing my commitments and I had too much on my plate. When you commit yourself with a “yes” to something or someone, you are saying “no” to something else. But I wasn’t. I was always saying, “yes.” I noticed this a few months ago. Last month, I finally grew the courage to resign from one of my volunteer posts. I didn’t want to because it is a cause I strongly believe in, but I wasn’t doing them, or myself any justice. I immediately got a response from the program leader who appreciated my service and wished me well. That’s when I knew I made the right choice.
These are just tips which I hope help you become more productive in your life. Whatever you do, always be watching yourself and looking for even small ways to improve. You’d be amazed what one subtle change can do for you!