Let’s explore how to start a daily reading habit. This is one of the very best ways to enjoy the many benefits associated with reading books. So let’s go over three practical steps that you can use to get started.
Note, if you’re interested in business-related topics like entrepreneurship, digital marketing, and product management, I have reading lists that cover those topics and several others. So consider checking them out after you finish reading this article. But for now, let’s tackle how to start a daily reading habit.
1. Start By Choosing Two Interesting Books
Before we can develop a habit, we need to select great books to read. That may seem painfully obvious, or it might be the breakthrough that you need to establish a daily reading routine. In my experience, many people like the idea of reading, but they don’t have a clear sense of what they would like to read.
I have a more in-depth resource on how to choose a great book, but the short version involves two simple steps. First, identify a clear opportunity or challenge that is important to you. And then look for relevant book recommendations from people that have achieved the goal or outcome that you want to accomplish.
It’s all too easy to start with a popular book or one that just looked interesting in a store. But, if you are new to daily reading, I recommend that you start with a highly engaging and relevant book. That way, it will be more rewarding for you to follow-through.
You need to start with two books because it’s helpful to have another one ready to go. That way, when you finish the first book, you can quickly jump to the next one to maintain your habit. And of course, you’ll immediately start searching for a third book, so you’re always a step ahead.
If you’re interested in business-related topics like digital marketing, entrepreneurship, product management, leadership, or startups, I have dedicated reading lists covering some of my favorite books on those topics and several others.
2. Establish A Daily Minimum Daily Reading Target
A common mistake when starting a reading habit is to set the bar way too high. In the excitement of making a change, it’s tempting to set a goal of reading for 30 or 60 minutes each day. But of course, change is difficult, and the larger the initial comment, the less likely that it will be successful over time.
Now, a less common mistake is to start small and increase the commitment over time. For example, you might begin reading for 5-10 minutes a day but plan to increase that to 30-60 minutes slowly over time. That might seem better, but it still stresses intensity over consistency, which can hurt you in the long run.
A better approach is to set and maintain a small daily target, as recommended in “Mini Habits” by Stephen Guise. For example, you can commit to reading for five minutes or five pages every day. With this in place, you can read for as long as you want on any given day, but you’ll never increase the minimum target over time.
This strategy focused on consistency over intensity. And it’s powerful because the habits that stand the test of time are those that we can easily accomplish every day. Until pretty soon, the practice becomes a part of our identity.
3. Anchor Your Reading Time To A Current Habit
Often the most difficult challenge with a new habit is just getting started. Each day, we must actively choose to engage in our new routine until it becomes firmly established. And to make this easier, we need a reliable way to initiate the habit.
A powerful technique is to link the new habit with an established routine, as covered in “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. For example, if you eat breakfast at a set time every day, you can anchor a new habit to that existing routine. In practice, that might involve reading before, during, or after you eat breakfast.
This strategy is useful because it adds to the consistency of the new habit. Not only will you be reading each day, but you’ll also be doing so at a specific time. And this makes it easier for the change to start feeling like a predictable part of your routine.
The key here is to select an existing routine that takes place every day. In my experience, it’s best to choose something that takes place in the first 2-3 hours of the day. That’s because we tend to have maximum control over our schedule during that window. So it’s more likely that we will maintain the new habit over time.
It’s Time To Start A Daily Reading Habit
As with so many things in life, this approach is simple but not easy. The concept is very straightforward, but it can still take significant willpower to get started. So now is the time to take action – while the idea is fresh in your mind.
Start by selecting two books that are interesting to you. Feel free to check out my guide on how to choose a great book if you want more information. And of course, check out some of my reading lists on startups, entrepreneurship, digital marketing, product management, and leadership if you’re interested in business.