Too Busy Not To Read

I love to ask people what they’ve read recently that they enjoyed and would recommend. The wide array of responses I get back are always interesting. But about half the time I ask this I get back something like, “I haven’t read anything lately. I don’t have time to read right now. I’m really busy.” It’s amazing how we can find time for TV shows, movies, Netflix, social media, bad football (Chicago Bears), and plenty of other things. Think about your past month and year. Outside of work and sleep, what did you fill your time with the most?

Now, I love everything I just listed above and take plenty of time in a week to watch through some of my ever growing Netflix queue or watch bad football (Chicago Bears). But I also have made it a priority to read. I once heard from a professor that the only difference between you now and you in five years are the books you read. I agree with this. I believe reading challenges us, entertains us and grows us. Reading grows us for today and prepares us for what is to come in the future. The argument could be made that reading is so important to our personal development that it is too important for us not to read.

One of my favorite explanations of how little time it takes each day to work through books comes from John Piper in his book Brothers, We Are Not Professionals. While this book is written for pastors (and please forgive the complementarian book title) I believe this section of the book applies to all people that want to grow in their personal lives and further develop themselves in any subject. Here is what John Piper writes,

“Suppose you read slowly, say about 250 words a minute (as I do). This means that in twenty minutes you can read five thousand words. An average book has about four hundred words to a page. So you could read about twelve-in-a-half pages in twenty minutes. Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year. That would be 312 x 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages. This means you could read fifteen books like that in one year” (80).

Twenty minutes a day. That’s all it takes. How many hours a day or in a week do you watch sports? How many hours watching tv shows? Or movies? Or cruising Facebook and Twitter? Again, these are not terrible things. I watch plenty of tv and sports, but I have made it a priority to read at a minimum of 20 minutes each day for the past few years. If you set aside only 20 minutes at some point just think how much you could grow in a year if you were able to read 15 books.

I want to challenge you to start this today. I had a boss who when I shared this section of this book with him he told me once a day at a certain time to come into his office, remind him it was that time and he would stop whatever he was doing and would read for 20 minutes. Maybe you don’t have the luxury to do that at work, but what about before work or after work? Or after the kids go to bed? Or when you go to bed? Challenge yourself to grow. It doesn’t take much time, and it is too important for you not to read.

How many books would you like to read in 2017? My goal is 75 this year. I’d love to hear yours!

A Little Bit of Reading Goes A Long Way

One of my ongoing goals for each year is to read 60 books in the year. I put together a reading list, non-fiction and fiction, for each year, and I get to work. One of the books I read last year had a chapter that focused on the importance of reading to our lives, and how this has become an area of neglect to many leaders and people. Here is a paragraph that I have continued to return to see the power of reading even for just a little bit each day.

Suppose you read slowly, say about 250 words a minute (as I do). This means that in twenty minutes you can read about five thousand words. An average book has about four hundred words to a page. So you could read about twelve-and-a-half pages in twenty minutes. Suppose you discipline yourself to read a certain author or topic twenty minutes a day, six days a week, for a year. That would be 312 times 12.5 pages for a total of 3,900 pages. Assume that an average book is 250 pages long. This means you could read fifteen books like that in one year. (Piper, Brothers We Are Not Professionals, 80)

Reading makes a difference in who we are and how we grow as people. I firmly believe that leaders are readers and readers are leaders. Over the next 50 days I am going to challenge myself to read at a minimum of 20 minutes a day to get this pattern placed into my day now as life will never have a time period that will be slower and any easier to start a habit.

Consider making this a goal for yourself as well and join me.