Late in 2019, I was mapping out ideas to write about on The Focus Course blog for the rapidly approaching new year. I knew that I wanted to start 2020 with a digital declutter, but one of my other big ideas was to squeeze in reading month at some point.
Originally, I think was considering April or May, but as I thought on it more, the obvious struck me: why not have the digital declutter and reading month overlap?
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One of the reasons I picked February is that it is currently winter here in Kansas City. When the weather is nice, I’m usually outside. Seeing that I’ll probably spend most of February indoors anyway, I might as well give myself something to do.
Since the beginning of February happens to be the middle of our 30-day digital declutter, there was natural overlap to the ideas. Since most of you have taken a step back from technology for the next month, I might as well convince you to pick up a book in the meantime. 📚
Liberating Ways to Read
You would think a person could just pick up a book and read. But along with new reading material comes all of our perfectionist ideals.
- “Only start a book if you intend to finish it. It only counts if you read it cover to cover.”
- “Audio books are cheating.”
- “I only read if I have the entire morning free, a warm beverage in hand, and am able to curl up on the couch. Otherwise it’s not reading.”
- “I’ve never checked out books from my local library, so why bother?”
And the list goes on.
For the month of February, I want you to toss out all of your inner-book-perfectionist-critique. I’m giving you permission to read whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, and as much or as little as you want.*
1. You Don’t Have to Finish Everything You Start
I don’t care if you check a book out from the library, read the first paragraph of the introduction and return it. For the next month, the point is only to read. If a book ceases to be interesting, put it down and move on to the next one.
2. Read What Sounds Fun or Interesting
The fastest way to enjoy reading is to pick up a book about something you’re already interested in. If you are having a hard time getting started, could it be you simply haven’t found the right thing to read?
Get sucked into a classic novel or the thrilling stories of historical events, the hero of great past wars. Maybe business books are your jam. Maybe you’re looking for a book on knitting and cross-stitching. Or, maybe you want to give your next house plant a chance at survival. Not that I would know anything about that.
The point is, let your interests lead the way. Don’t feel like you have to read the book that everyone is talking about if it’s not interesting to you.
3. Listen to a Book While Exercising
If you really want to piss off the inner-book-perfectionist, listen to a book while commuting or exercising, then pick up where you left off in the physical book later when you have five minutes to read a page or two. Rinse and repeat and watch how quickly you plow through a book.
4. Check Books Out from your Local Library
I’ve recently fallen in love with our local library. I remember going to the library as a child from time to time, but was never the kid that couldn’t wait to go back. Well, I’ve turned into a bit of a library junky.
My wife, on the other hand, checked out over 60 books for Christmas for our boys this last Christmas season. Even the librarian gave her the stink eye.
All that to say, the library is amazing. Novels, biographies, historical documents and archives, books on specialized fields of study — they’ve got it all. Any interest or hobby, the library has a book (or twenty) on the topic.
When to Read
If you’re struggling to find the time to read, here are a few ideas. It doesn’t have to be a full uninterrupted hour of silence. If that were the case, my wife would be doomed. Look for those five- and ten-minute windows.
If you are participating in our digital declutter, you may have discovered how many windows of time had previously been stuffed with technology. Take any of these random windows of time and pull out a book.
- Lunch break
- Before Bed
- Waiting (Of any kind. Doctor’s office, DMV, dentist, post office, before a meeting)
- Before Starting Your Work Day
- While Commuting
- Take a 10 minute Reading Break
- Before/Instead of Watching Something
- Lazy Day Off Curled up with a Blanket and Hot Beverage
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February is right around the corner, but I wanted to give you a little lead time to think about what you’ll pick up. Take a trip to your local library, browse the shelves, look for something that catches your eye.
If you have a stack of books staring at you, you’ll be more likely to actually pick one up and read a page or two. No need to try to read the entire Dune series — just read one page, every day.
And there’s no need to wait until February 1st. Happy reading month!