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2015: The year you finally read much more. Here’s how I’ll do it!

learn-iconI think it started as I ran out of bookshelf space: that quiet, nagging feeling that I should be doing something. Books, ebooks, useful articles and clippings all clogged up the spaces I designed for them.

“I don’t read as much as I used to,” I told my friend. She got worried.
“No, don’t do it to me. Not you. Make time, somehow!”

So here’s how I’m planning to do this. Your tools will vary: I’m leaving you with a handful of good questions that fit any setting.

1. Why do I really want to read? What would be my idea of “a good reading session?”

This matters because there are many ways to answer this, and it’s crucial to find out if your motivation “travels” from one way of reading to the next. For example, I can imagine a good series of professional articles which help me learn more about a trend – but I can also enjoy the thought of fifty pages of good fiction which would improve my style, taste and sleep.

2. Is this “fast” or “slow” reading? Am I interested in the general idea, or in depth?

Again, not all approaches are equal. Good coaches will help you in learning about speed reading, but will also emphasise the importance of good research. You don’t need to worry about it all the time: for me, industry articles are speed-read first, and marked for research later if they’re useful. As for books – they’re chosen in advance and always researched, in my case: going through 700 pages had better be worth every minute!

3. Paper or screens? How will I read most enjoyably and successfully?

This is more than an aesthetic preference. For many of us, carrying books around is no longer a convenient thing to do – but others just know they will come into their reading space every so often, with plenty of time to delight in a paper book. Think hard about this one: the next question depends on it. In my case, it’s mostly digital text – sadly, as I adore a good paper book. There just isn’t enough space in my backpack for all I want to read – and experience taught me to use every pocket of time on my travels.

4. What other tools will I need throughout my reading?

It’s fun (for a while) to collect bookmarks, coloured pencils, highlighting apps, and other reading-related paraphernalia – until you discover that all this activity just distracted you from the reading you were supposed to be doing. Know ahead of time what you will need. In my case, I’d need the apps on my smartphone (for reading, speed reading, bookmarking, highlighting and sharing) and the device itself (charged, synced, powered up and ready to use).

5. How will I store and retrieve what I read?

Don’t count on remembering anything. I’m sorry to break it to you: no amount of memory coaching or training would prepare you for remembering all you read. Figure out your storage, and test it to see if it’s really useful. My digital pursuits enabled me to remain true to Evernote – but I know this takes some getting used to.

6. Is there anything that might stop me from achieving a successful reading session?

This is a question that every good life coach can ask about every goal: what could stop you, and how might you prevent it? Earphones to combat a noisy environment. Closed browser windows to resist the Facebook-checking urge. Or a firm agreement with those around you: this time, this place is for my reading. Only interrupt if it’s super-urgent. Think about problems and solutions ahead of time. My set: a podcast with one hour of great background music (marry me, Headphone Commute), and earphones. This ensures that I’m unreachable and can be left alone to read all I want!

This is how I’m planning to read up in 2015. Hopefully it will work for you as well.

My toolbox here:

Squirt, a speed-reading bookmarklet
Speed Reader, an Android app (does the same thing as Squirt)
Pocket, an app which saves and stores articles for reading offline
Aldiko, a great ebook reading app (plays nicely with Adobe DRM)
Evernote, for sharing and storing notes and highlights
Hive bookshop, because there’s only so much I’m willing to do for Amazon

Got a tip, or a piece of advice? I’m on Twitter to hear you out.

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