With so many distractions and obligations that business leaders are often faced with, it can be difficult to prioritize picking up a book. But I believe it’s vital to carve out ample time to let your mind think in an entirely different way while still flexing the muscles of curiosity and creativity. Reading books is an especially powerful way to accomplish this, and from my perspective, it can benefit every area of your life.
In my free time, I am a voracious reader, and I’ve always enjoyed escaping into the pages of a book to quiet the mind, learn something new and see things from a different perspective. Reading is an incredible gift that’s filled with knowledge, and you can integrate reading time into your day, especially if you choose to read in a genre you enjoy or on a topic that interests you.
Over the years, I’ve developed some core reading habits that I’ve found work best for me, and I find that practicing them has broadened my mind in many ways. They might not work for every leader, but I do find them to be effective. Here are three habits leaders can cultivate to make reading a priority in their life.
Diversify your library.
I think it’s important to read books from a variety of perspectives, sources and genres. I also believe it’s important that as a business leader, you balance your time reading books on leadership and industry-related topics with material from other places, such as fiction, a memoir or nonfiction — something that’s unrelated to your company or typical reading material. Leaders can and should read books that pertain to their own line of work and lives, but I also think complementing that practice with texts from other unrelated topics will add even more value and insight to your reading practice.
For example, I often will start a science fiction novel, but then I’ll read it alongside another fascinating nonfiction book about technology. Other times, I gravitate more toward a romance before changing to a memoir. The important thing is to always try to read books outside of your comfort zone. By reading multiple books in different genres at once, you can always pick up something you’re in the mood for, and I find the topics can complement one another in fascinating ways.
I also think it’s important to try and read books in other languages, if possible. I try to read books in Spanish, Italian and English, for example, and I find that it not only helps me grasp new languages better but also gives the words on the page an entirely new meaning, depending on the language it’s written in. If you’re currently learning a new language, try to read books in that language, even if you start small with simple children’s books to build your vocabulary and comprehension.
Read in different formats.
Along with reading books in a variety of genres and languages, you can also try to read books in different formats. One of my other favorite pastimes, in addition to reading, is Nordic walking, and I find that listening to audiobooks during my walks is a great way to do both of these passions of mine at once. Or, if you typically opt for an e-reader but you’re tired of looking at screens all day, try to pick up a hard copy of a book. This will give your eyes time to rest, and I believe there’s something beautiful about holding a physical book in your hand. The options for reading in different formats are endless, and it’s never been easier to get started.
I also like different types of formats for different genres of books. For instance, I find that I prefer religious and philosophical texts written out on a page. The important thing is to always try new methods of reading and find what works best for you.
Integrate reading into your life.
I don’t believe it’s true when people say they don’t have time to read. If you make time to scroll social media, flip through news updates and look at text messages and emails, then I believe you have the time to read a book. It’s not about reading as fast as you can or not wanting to start because you don’t think you’ll finish; I often start books and finish them months later, depending on what else I’m doing or thinking about. All that matters is you get started.
Steps you can take to fit more reading into your life include: Try reading right before bed to wind down and relax. Listen to an audiobook on your commute to work or when you’re exercising. Or, always have a book with you on a flight, while you wait for an appointment, when you’re taking your lunch break or if you just want to kill some time. You could be amazed by how much reading you can get done in the time between other things.
Reading is something that I feel can benefit every area of your life, including your career, education, mental health and relationships. It goes far beyond a pastime, and there are so many captivating and wonderful books and stories out there just waiting to be read. These are some of the key practices that have helped me become a better and more consistent reader, and I hope that they will help guide you on your own path as you read more and more great books.