2015 book challenge

How to Get Smarter Reading 36 Books in 1 Year [Strategy]

If you’re an entrepreneur, chances are you’re an avid reader. And reading is an important part of what you do because it keeps your mind sharp, provides inspiration, and improves creativity.

But without a goal or plan, it’s easy to let the demands of life crowd out the time you have for reading. I know that’s often true for me.

One of my goals for 2015 is to read at least 36 books. In a normal year, I read about 28-30 books. And I’ve only surpassed the 35-book mark once or twice in the last couple of decades. So 36 books seemed like a good goal for me.

I then began thinking about what it actually meant to read 36 books in a year. How many books would I need to read each month? How much time could I take to read each book? How many pages and minutes a day would I need to read? How could I create a reading plan to hit that goal?

Obviously, this isn’t hard math or anything… it’s just I’ve never been that purposeful about reading books since it’s an activity I enjoy and I read books regardless of any goals I set. But I realize that I must be more deliberate if I want to hit my goal.

Breaking It Down… A Plan for┬áReading 36 Books in a Year

  • To read 36 books in one year, I need to read three books every month of the year (36 books / 12 months = 3 books a month). That’s a little less than one a week.
  • If I need to finish reading three books a month, I can break it down further. That’s one book every 10 days on average (30 days in a month / 3 books = 10 days to read a book).
  • For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume each book has an average page count of 300 pages. That means I need to read 30 pages a day to finish a book in 10 days (300 pages / 10 days = 30 pages a day). If I skip a day, I have to read 60 pages the next day to get back on track.

But what kind of time commitment are we talking about here?

  • Well, if I read a page a minute, then I should be able to read 30 pages in 30 minutes (30 pages x 1 page a minute = 30 minutes). But I have to be realistic. I have kids and there are interruptions at my house, so let’s be generous and say it will take me 45 minutes to read 30 pages a day.

So if I read 45 minutes a day, I should have no problem reading 36 books this year — assuming I choose to read books of average length.

Another thing I’m doing is mapping out the books I plan to read each month for the next four months. So I had three books listed for January, three for February, etc. This way I can make sure I’m reading a good mix of fiction and nonfiction.

Part of what makes reading enjoyable is the freedom to follow my inspiration. So I realize I won’t follow my plan exactly. Every now and then, I’ll pick up a book that’s not part of my plan and start reading it. That’s why I’m only mapping out four months at a time. I know I will have to shift book titles around.

Why Bother to Calculate All these Numbers?

You’re probably familiar with the idea that measuring improves performance — and that reporting on what you measure improves performance even more.

That’s why I’m not only measuring how many books I read this year, I’m also measuring how many books I read each month. By using a smaller time increment, I’m putting the odds in my favor that I won’t fall behind and that I’ll hit my yearly target.

After all, if you have set a goal for the year, and you only measure your progress toward the end of the year, you won’t have enough time to make any meaningful adjustments. This is true whether you’re reading books, losing weight, or making money.

Measurements must be taken on a regular basis for them to have a meaningful impact on your ability to hit your goals. Want to read more books? Create a monthly reading plan so you hit your target by the end of the year.

-Ryan M. Healy

P.S. As you can see from the image at the top of this article, I’ve already finished six books so far this year. That means I’m ahead of schedule. Who knows? Maybe I’ll hit 40 books instead of 36. :-)

Ryan M. Healy

Ryan Healy is a financial copywriter and the author of Speed Writing for Nonfiction Writers. Since 2002, he has worked with scores of clients, including Agora Financial, Lombardi Publishing, and Contrarian Profits. He writes a popular blog about copywriting, advertising, and business growth, has been featured in publications like Feed Front magazine, and has been published on sites like WordStream.com, SmallBizClub.com, and MarketingForSuccess.com.

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