Experiment #3 - The joy of reading
Updated: Feb 22, 2021
Experiment 3 was to read every single day for at least 10 minutes. Hardly radical. But for me reading consistently is a habit that has been slowly edging out of my life, being replaced by social media. If that sounds familiar, then this article may serve as a welcome reminder to read more and lose yourself in a book.
Before I go into 5 reflections on the practice of daily reading, there were some shifts in behaviour I had to deal with that I hadn't anticipated with this seemingly basic exercise.
1. Changing my environment.
In his book 'Atomic Habits - James Clear advises on good habit formation. In the chapter on
breaking bad habits he describes making bad habits as unattractive and difficult as possible. For me, that meant moving the phone charger away from its permanent residence next to my bed, to another room in my house. The phone now gone; I could replace the void with a book. It worked!
2. Reading slower to think faster.
Reading consistently shines new light on the speed at which you take in information through the written word. The daily habit of reading 10 minutes a day emphasised what I always knew but didn't admit. That I'm a slow reader. I got faster over the 30 days but not appreciably so. Sometimes I'd get through no more than 3 pages in 10 minutes. Some of that time might have been spent going back over a passage to understand what was meant. Some of it lost in thought on how to apply this new learning to my work.
3. E-Reader vs Paper Books
Interestingly, paper books have made a resurgence. E-Book sales are estimated to be down by 10% over the year according to this report. But for me, it's a Kindle all the way. Throughout this 30-day experiment, I tried both reading e-books as well as paper books. The portability of something like a Kindle is clearly a bonus. Yet the thing that endears me to the Kindle is the ability to record and export my own notes to PDF. I wish they sorted out that e-keyboard though, it's about as responsive as a brick wall.
4. You figure out how much you don't really know
I'm currently researching organisational culture in greater depth than I ever have before. And despite immersing part of my career in this subject, I recognise just how much I don't know! This 30-day experiment has had me diving into a soup of learning. I've gone deeper into understanding areas such as psychological safety, and the benefits of diversity of thought. Through the authors' illuminating examples, I feel more compelled to follow new lines of enquiry about my subject matter of improving meetings. Through a deliberate process of layering case studies with my own experiences, I am arriving at a new and personal level of understanding. One that I'm hopefully better able to articulate to others.
5. Unintended benefits
I've found my use of language improving again. I've also found myself reconnecting ever so slightly with my fading abilities with Spanish. Happily, I've also wandered into attempting and completing the odd crossword too.
In summary, 30 days has been enough to sustain a reading habit that is enjoyable as it is rewarding in terms of new knowledge gained. I no longer use my phone as an alarm clock and am sure I’m sleeping sleep better as a result.
Note: 2 books I read through this 30-day challenge were
The Fearless Organisation - Amy C Edmondson
Atomic Habits - James Clear
Reviews will follow.
Stay following me for Experiment 4. I'm up for curious suggestions!
Anish is a self confessed Change obsessive and founder of Jigsaw Change Consulting. A London based consultancy providing an improvement lens on to meeting culture.