I dare you.


I dared to challenge myself, for the second time in two years, to a reading challenge.

I’ve been useless at updating my stats on Goodreads, but I’ve recorded it on my own personal journal, and I will be writing monthly/bi-monthly/sporadic book reviews on each book I read, like the ones I wrote in the past about Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson and classic literary Steinbeck.

That’s my desire anyway.

Sometimes, the heart is willing, but reality tells a different story like, ‘You barely have time to cook a solid meal, let alone sit and reflect on a book you’ve just read!’

But some books are heavy and take a long time to digest; they require a little more mulling over than others.

For example: ‘If there is a man’ by Primo Levi is a book where a pause and reset was required on every other page. Deep.

Whereas, ‘Serving Crazy with Curry’ by Amulya Mulladi was light and full of laughter and humour. I finished it within a few hours on my flight and train back home from Budapest. It was the perfect accompaniment to my travels, but it isn’t something I will be continually reflecting upon for weeks, nor one that will haunt my thoughts at spontaneous intervals in the same way as ‘If there is a man’, ‘When breath becomes air’ by Paul Kalanthi, or ‘1984‘ by George Orwell.

Some people ask me how I find the time. (I’m not a speed-reader, unfortunately.) And maybe you’re wondering the same thing too. ‘How do you find the time to read one or two books a week on the hectic schedule that you were complaining about only a blog or two previous?’, you ask?

[1] Audiobooks.

I shared this a few months or even a year ago now as one way of 8 suggestions to increase productivity and maximise ‘dead’ time, e.g. times when you’re stuck in traffic. I practice what I preach. These days, I wouldn’t even be able to tell you what the current ‘top 40’ is; I rarely listen to the radio. Audible is my radio.

[2] 15 minutes per day. Every day. Consistency is key.

I share this principle of consistency continually. And it really works. It need not apply solely to reading; what other goal or ‘resolution’ did you set on December 31st 2016 that you have yet to fully realise? Did you plan to exercise more, cook healthily and eat well? Did you plan to work hard for a promotion at work, get out of your current job and start a new career path? Whatever it is, it is still achievable. Set aside 15 minutes per day to make it happen – research new job roles, research the requirements for those roles, study, read, cook a ‘lean in 15’ (that usually requires about half an hour, I’d imagine)!

[3] Variety!

I made a reference to the heavy, not-so-easily-digestible literature I’ve been reading lately that haunts me for weeks after putting the book down. If I were to read only those books, I’d be depressed and hopeless. Variety allows me to reach for an ‘easy read’ or chick flick with absolutely no feeling of shame or self-deprecation. Variety is the spice of life, as the saying goes. If you’d like a list of the varied genres of literature I read, let me know and I’ll send you my template.

[4] Switch off.

Put your phone down. Switch off your computer. Switch off. It’s hard to read when you’re constantly reaching for your iPhone or iPad, isn’t it? Well, one way to end the distraction is to turn your phone on silent or aeroplane mode for 15 minutes and set your timer for 15 minutes so that you feel less guilty for disengaging from the world. After all, unless you’re a doctor or somebody who really has to be ‘on call’ 24/7, you can spare that time for yourself – for your own peace, self-development and relaxation. Everybody needs downtime.

If you like what you’ve read, share with others who may benefit from a fresh perspective on productivity hacks!

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