The Importance of Reading Books

     A good friend of mine once told me “The only difference between the person you are today and the person you’ll be tomorrow, are the people you talk to and the books you read.” The aphorism stuck with me for many years after that and I developed a regular reading habit because of it.

Being productive is all about habits. It demands not just any set of habits, but productive, positive habits that move your work and energy levels forward. Much of this blog site is devoted to identify those productive habits that have helped me deliver more output per unit time on a day to day basis. Some habits are workday specific habits, like planning out my tomorrow. Others habits, like the topic of today’s blog post, are more productive lifestyle habits. Cultivating a habit of regular book reading/consumption has been a cornerstone of my life, providing not only productivity benefits, but many other benefits as well.

The way I see it, there are three critical reasons why I reading books is so important to sustaining high levels of life and work productivity:

1. Reading books gives me more energy.

2. Reading books shapes my life/life experience.

3. Reading books is a great screen/device alternative.

Before continuing, I intentionally say “reading books”, as opposed to reading anything (web-site articles, twitter, Facebook, and yes even blog posts). While there is much to gain from reading through newer forms of electronic media, there is also the risk of ‘click-bait’ forms of distraction. Part of the productivity benefit of reading physical or Kindle books is that they help strengthen focus muscles and concentration abilities.

1. Reading books gives you energy.

Performing at elite levels requires an incredible amount of sustained energy. There are many habits that can help with increasing energy levels, but today I’ll just focus on reading.  If the word ‘energy’ with regards to book reading is confusing, simply use the word ‘inspired’. Reading books inspires me. One particular example comes to mind – I read the book ‘Peak’, by Anders Erickson.

Erickson is an FSU psychologist known for his seminal work on deliberate practice. After reading his book (twice now), I felt inspired to strive for great things. The book taught me the elite in many (most) fields became elite not because they were born with natural abilities, but because they spent thousands, and thousands, and thousands of hours practice and developing their skill.

There are many ways to be inspired, but the personal experience of reading, consuming, and digesting a book is that it becomes a part of you. After reading it, you are changed forever from the inside out.

2. Reading books shapes your life.

I am not a trained psychologist in anyway, but I personally believe that what we think about becomes our reality. If I spend enough time thinking about a future bad event, sooner or later that bad event – in some form – materialise in my life. When we read, we spend significant time thinking about a certain topic – maybe economics, or perhaps even investment strategies. Those thoughts then shape whate I pay attention, thereby shaping my life.

With a regular reading habit, life start to effortlessly unfold.

Don’t know how to be productive? Read a few books on productivity techniques and strategies. Very quickly, you will find yourself naturally implementing those strategies in your life. Afraid of dating or relationships? Read a few books about the topic and sooner or later you will find yourself dating more and maybe even getting into a relationship. Why does reading work that way?

When we read, the writers thoughts become our thoughts.

3. Reading books is a great screen/device alternative.

Finally, reading books – especially old-fashion physical books – is a great alternative to a smart phone or other device. It was because of my compulsive phone clicking that I turned to books as an alternative. I was tired of habitually click, click, clicking on my phone every time I had a spare second. I thought about that poor habit and realised I needed to replace it with something more productive. If I now have a few minutes to spare – on the train, waiting for doctor appointment, etc., I now reach for a book and tear through a few pages.

In conclusion – read books! Read lots of books on a wide variety of topics! Make reading books a top priority in your life. Don’t just make it a priority, make it a new life habit.

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