In the last 4 months, I read 11 books. Here’s how I built my reading habit.
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In the last 4 months, I read 11 books. Here’s how I built my reading habit.

From a young age, I used to read at least a few books per year, but at some point in my early 20’s I lost my interest in reading and almost stopped. That phase only lasted a couple of years, but although I wanted to resume reading and I was missing it, I was finding it hard to pick up a book versus doing something else to entertain myself.

Here's how I did it, and you can too:

Set the goal to read one page per day and do it religiously

Consistency is the most important virtue when building a habit. The trick is to make it easy for yourself to be consistent.

Don’t set ambitious goals that are destined to fail. Reading one page is easy to achieve even on hectic days, or on ones that you are just not into it.

Although a single page won’t make a difference on a 500-page book, it is all your brain needs to build the habit.

Read after one of your other habits

In his book Atomic Habits (highly recommended), James Clear calls it “habit stacking”. In a nutshell, instead of trying to pair a new habit to a specific time or location, you pair it with an existing and established habit.

For example, do you take a shower after your daily exercise? Then plan to read that one page right after your shower. It’s way easier to establish a new habit if you pair it with an existing one.

Keep a book close and in sight

This falls into the “make it easy for yourself” category. Are you reading a book after taking that post-exercise shower? Then keep it next to where you’ll sit as soon as you dress yourself so you don’t have to actively search for it — remember, “out of sight, out of mind”.

Visualise your success

I still find it amazing that simple gamification techniques actually work wonders for habit building. Print a monthly calendar and every day that you achieve your goal, reward yourself with an X on the box. That’s it; it becomes surprisingly addicting to fill all of the boxes with X’s!

Good luck building your reading habit and remember, it doesn't really matter how many books you read. Quality over quantity!

This essay was originally published as part of a 30-day writing challenge.