Mike T. Henderson

Design, Art Direction & Illustration

Making More Time for Reading by Taking Out the Trash

 In Reading

Reading has been a huge source of self-education and inspiration for me over the years. It wasn’t until last year that I decided to make it even more of a priority in my daily life. Last year I changed my routine around to wake up earlier and read for 30-60 minutes each day before work. Deadlines and life happened along the way, but I stuck with that plan for the better part of the year, and as a result, read 40 books without it really feeling like much work. In previous years, I read about 12 books per year; 1 book per month. By making a simple tweak to my schedule, I was able to increase my reading production by 233%.

For me the benefit of reading in the morning versus at night was that I was tackling each book with a fresh mind. Often when I read in the evenings, I would doze off a few pages in. Not very productive.

I came across an interesting article in my feeds today where the author, Charles Chu makes a case that in the time you spend on social media each year you could read 200 books. In this post Chu outlines the math as:

  • The average American reads 200–400 words per minute (Since you’re on Medium, I’m going to assume you read 400 wpm like me)
  • Typical non-fiction books have ~50,000 words
  • 200 books * 50,000 words/book = 10 million words
  • 10 million words/400 wpm = 25,000 minutes
  • 25,000 minutes/60 = 417 hours

That’s all there is to it. To read 200 books, simply spend 417 hours a year reading.

Chu goes on to say that the average person spends:

  • 608 hours on social media
  • 1642 hours on TV
  • That’s 2250 hours a year spent on TRASH. If those hours were spent reading instead, you could be reading over 1,000 books a year!

200 books in 1 year for anyone, is a lot. No doubt about that. That takes enormous effort and discipline, but the point here is that is simple: if you want to read more, make it a priority.

Having gone through a much, much lighter version of this experiment, one thing I learned was that it’s one thing to seek education, it’s another thing to apply that education. My goal for this year was to actually spend a little less time reading, and a little more time applying what I learned. Regardless, the opportunity to do either is to cut the trash out of the schedule.

 

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