How To Read Better - Part 2, by Matt Molt

How to Read Better, Part 2

When some people say they don’t have time to read, I think I roll my eyes in my head just a little.  We all have time to do what we want to do, and for reading to become a priority, it has to become something we really want to do. Leaders: you want to read more! 

One of the things that is a reading killer is the smartphone. Too many people end their day in bed by spending endless scrolling time on social media and YouTube videos. What if we intentionally spent the last half hour of the day reading a book instead? The benefits are several.  

First, the blue light from your phone actually keeps you up longer, because of how the brain powers down at night. Second, the concentration needed to read  will help you fall asleep better. Third, as you read, it causes your brain to follow a single train of thought which is good for sleeping, whereas scrolling through a Facebook feed with all of the various bits of random info makes sleep harder.  

Another way to make time to read is to change your TV show habits. Everyone has “their shows” that they love. For me, The Voice, Chopped, and This Is Us are some of my personal favorites.  And I love to catch a Blazers or Seahawks game when I can. The problem becomes when we have a show every night, or we want to binge the newest Netflix release. My suggestion if you want to be a reader is to have no more than 3 shows that you watch during any given week. Use some of the evenings to get an hour of reading in. TV isn’t that valuable anyways, and especially for leaders. Our time has to be balanced and poured into things that build value into our lives.  

Here is a clue: You can’t keep up with all the shows and be current on all social media platforms AND be an effective leader. Time will force you to choose. Choose wisely.  

In March of 2017 (13 months from the time of this writing) I chose to get off of Facebook altogether. I still have an account, but I don’t scroll, add friends, post, or check my inbox for messages. There is a greater sense of control of my time because of this decision, and as a side note, I am not as emotionally up and down. No regrets for me in this decision.

I have made my book reading a priority in one other key way that I want to share with you. Schedule it. A few years back, I realized that I had been buying more books than I was finishing and I wanted to reverse the trend, and also read more. So I put the book titles on my calendar program. Now, each December I stack up the books i want to read, and I take the time to post them onto my calendar. Every other Monday, a new book is posted on my calendar, all the way to the end of the year. It becomes like a homework assignment, and what gets on to your calendar gets priority.

Calendaring my reading has helped my reading in a few ways:

  1. I know if I am ahead or behind on my goals.
  2. When people give me a book, or recommend one to me, I can tell them that I will try to add it in, but that my reading calendar is full for the year. Saying no to the wrong books is as important as saying yes to the right ones.
  3. I have found that I get into a pattern to make this goal happen. One chapter a night, and my book will most likely be done in my two week time frame.  Most books are 10-15 chapters, so it makes it an easy fit.
  4. As a pastor, I scheduled certain books to be finished in time to allow them to help me with my upcoming sermon series. I am not cramming in extra studying and reading in a panic.  Nope. I have built in study and reading in advance of my (also) scheduled messages.

I hope this idea of prioritizing your time to help you read will actually help you to be read better. More to come on how to read better—next post on this topic will be on the types of books I choose to read, and why I choose them.  

See you then, leaders.