I love having conversations with other people about reading. Topics in the realm of what they read, why they read, how much they read, where they read, and the habits of how they read. The amount of choices available to any person at any time are at an all time high and ever rising.
Knowledge itself is an enormous black hole – not in the sense that it’s pulling everything in to it, but that it’s ever growing and potentially endless. The amount of words written is expanding universal levels! OK, I’m getting way off topic of the point of this post. But.. Try and think for a second that everything that has been written by humans in their lifetime, some captured, some lost in time. The sheer amount of numbers is exponential.
That being said, I’ve recently taken the Sparketypes quiz from Jonathan Fields (came across while reading the book Start Finishing). Turns out, I’m a Maven and a Sage. Which for those unaware, a Maven is someone who loves learning for learning sake and a Sage is one who enjoys sharing and teaching others things.
So if all that there is to know is a black hole, I’m an scientist flying through space attempting to observe and learn it all while radioing back home the messages.
I wish I could find some way to calculate the amount of hours I consume reading on the internet, books, kindle, as well as audio based content.
I’m going to try and outline my reading habits in this quick little post in an attempt to shed some new ideas for others looking for a good reading routine.
I read and consume many bits of information:
- Daily email newsletters
- Internet blogs and articles
- Physical books
- E-books on my Kindle
Additionally, I have some habits in my reading that others have asked me about. I honestly cannot remember where I learned the habit of reading whenever I can. I think it was Bill Gates or someone who said they read when they’re in line, when they’re waiting for someone to meet up with, etc etc. That’s exactly the approach I go for. I try and read during:
- The morning rise
- The daily walk(s)
- Throughout the day
- Wrapping up the night
- While I’m driving (audiobooks)
- When I’m waiting for a friend to arrive, using my Kindle app
- Sometimes during lunch (I keep my kindle with me at most times)
- While I’m out for lunch or dinner
- Literally any chance I can get when my brain is enaged
Now, I’ll try to outline my consumption of these mediums and habits!
The content mediums
Regularly Occurring Email Newsletters
I subscribe to a lot of interesting fellows in the psychology, self help, and other various ‘self-improvement’ email newsletters. I really enjoy some of their articles as brainstorming seeds and kicking off discovery of new ideas. I’ll estimate I spend anywhere from 5-10 minutes on either the post itself or links to other articles on the website.
- Seth Godin – varies in length, great thoughts about anything in marketing, sales, psychology, and all around thought provoking material.
- The Daily Stoic – daily writings of the stoicism philosophy, from Ryan Holiday’s interpretations.
- Ryan Holiday’s newsletter – book recommendations from Ryan Holiday himself.
- Mark Manson (Mondays) – spitballed content from Mark Manson’s email.
- Nir Eyal – behavioral design newletter.
- Daniel Pink – author of Drive, A Whole New Mind, and more – weekly content.
- QBQ – from the author John G Miller, ideas about accountability.
Internet blogs and articles
I’d say I spend about 5-20 minutes sometimes longer, varying from available article content and the interest of content to me.
- Hacker News posts – any that tickle my brain (it’s a lot)
- Related professional topics in my work hours (software related, leadership articles, system design, etc)
At anytime, I have a stack of about 2-3 books that I want to read. I get these from many sources, and right now, there is no rhyme or reason to my choosing of a physical book over an e-book.
How I choose the books is still a mystery to me. At the time of writing this, I have a few piled up on my bookshelf ready to be read; my queue consists of: Black Box Thinking, The Black Swan, Getting to Yes, and Aware.
I’ll usually ask for books for any gifts any want to give me as a go-to when someone asks what I’d like.
I walk my dog every morning. This time on the walk is some prime time for mindfulness as well as listening to some quality audiobook content. I’m a huge audible fan.
I love having some positive thoughts shared on my walk. As of late, it’s been focused on leadership, mindfulness, and philosophy. Nothing better than getting a day started with some positive thoughts filling up your subconscious, as our minds tend to absorb whatever is in the community consciousness. At the time of writing this, i’ve been listening to Stillness is the Key and The Art of Power.
E-books on my kindle
I just got a Kindle paperwhite as an upgrade from my very old Kindle 3rd Edition (the one with the keyboard). While at first skeptical, I’m now in love with my paperwhite. Not only does it have a nice back light – but it’s super portable to take in my back pocket to sneak out over lunch or when I get a free moment. I also have the app on my phone, which let’s me read when I’m in a waiting scenario, like at the doctors office, waiting in line, etc etc. I try to sneak as much reading on the go with my kindle, as well as when I’m stationary at home.
My reading routine
The morning rise
First off, I’ve moved my cell phone away from my bed side stand. I’ve replaced it with my old Kindle (3rd edition). This small habit change has me grabbing for my old kindle rather than diving into whatever my smart phone demands of me. This small trick instantly gets me in the mindset to read first.
I wake up and read the Seth Godin post first. I love that these daily emails provide insight into common day sales and marketing strategy and tactics. Additionally, I love that Seth Godin thinks of the human in us and aims to appeal to that side of us.
I then read the Daily Stoic post from Ryan Holiday. I love the constant reminder that we’re human, our time on this earth is temporary, and we will need to be kind to all. That and I’m a sucker for the stoicism philosophy in any form.
Finally, I go to my comfy recliner chair and read either my kindle or a book, whichever I’m into (Currently: “Start Finishing” on Kindle and “Black Box Thinking” in book form).
From here, I at get at least 15-30 minutes of reading time, pending more if I’m super interested in the book.
The daily walk(s)
Once the clock finally hits 8:30 AM or so, my little dog Amaya demands a walk. Great! Now I get some time to listen to my audio book while we go on our daily 1.5 mile walk. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Regardless, this gets me about 10 hours of listening a month. Audible also gives some other fun stats for listening – my minimum listening time was in November of this year, at 5h 52m. My maximum, oddly enough not due to the weather, is December with 20h 48m!
Throughout the day
While the day rolls along, I try to sneak in some reading time anyway I can. I might bust out my kindle over lunch while I’m at work. I might read a few internet articles / blogs / or whatever else I might find interesting throughout the day.
While I’m at work, I try to look up blog posts that are relevant either to leadership, management, programming, communication, or any other issue I am currently working through during my very dynamic days.
Wrapping up the night
Now that I’ve got my kindle next to my bedside stand – I try to grab a few minutes of reading while I’m jumping into bed. This small hack of removing my phone has given me one option – the kindle. I already struggle with insomnia and I’m finding that having the kindle there helps me read a bit and unwind. By this point, I need something to stop the constant sensory overload that the smart phone provides.
I might grab anywhere from 15-30 minutes at my night time reading routine.
Putting it all in perspective
Again, these numbers are mainly hail mary estimates.
Morning: 15m-30m (daily newsletter) + 30m-1h (book reading) + 50m (audible) = 1h 30m – 2h 20m
Day: 15m – 1h
Night: 15m – 30m
Coming to a guessed grand total for a minimum of 2 hours to a maximum of 3 hours and 50 minutes.
For just a small time investment, I can steal quite a good chunk of learning time. Since I’m being sucked into the knowledge black hole, I tend to lose track of times in my small reading habits. That’s OK by me though, since the constant reading habits help enforce knowledge retention since many books seem to cover similiar material, thus being stored to my long term storage!