Develop a Professional Development Reading Habit

Do You Have a Growth-Oriented Daily Reading Habit?

The cumulative impact of reading about personal and professional growth-oriented subjects on a daily basis is one of the surest ways to expand as a professional and a human being.

This year, I increased my professional development reading commitment: frequency (daily), quantity (shooting for 30 books) and breadth (outside of my comfort zone). For me, the results have been explosive including expanded self-awareness and effectiveness, increased understanding of psychology and human relations, development and pursuit of personal vision and courageous steps taken in that regard. And frankly, a lot of business and relationship growth.

Here’s how I do it:

  • I have a list. Assigned from a coaching program that I belong to as well as recommendations from a running/learning buddy, and others. Never be in decision mode about what to read next.
  • I (try to) read 25 pages every morning as part of a morning routine that includes journaling. I read in the morning over 70% of the time, but have about a 50% success rate on hitting 25 pages. Still instilling this as a rock solid daily habit. Build a daily habit – same time, same place.
  • I read more in the early evening, or at least finish the 25 pages from the morning. Part of this is committing to finish X chapters during the week. Set Goals.
  • I purchase several books at the same time from Amazon or a local bookstore. That way, there’s no lag between selections. Batch decisions.
  • Make it obvious: The one or two physical books I’m reading now are on the coffee table. Another is at the office. And on a shelf in my living room are my upcoming reads, visible daily and ready to go.
  • I take advantage of audiobooks in the car, on walks or runs. I invested (using that term on purpose) in an Audible subscription. I select audiobooks vs. physical books on the basis of density and whether I expect there to be visuals (graphs, frameworks, etc.) or basically just pure text. Make it available.
  • As a budget item, for me, it has been very worthwhile to purchase these books and build my library. If you can’t swing that, use your local public library and order your list that way.
  • Kindle et al are another way to go. Personally, that hasn’t resonated for me. If it works, and if you are someone who does a lot of travel (trains, planes), a good approach.

Retention: As part of my learning, I highlight or underline fairly liberally and in some cases, I make notes. Many of the books I’m reading have action items. Actually doing that work is important. Having said that, I could be a lot better at this follow-up. I do get value and learning from every book I read and prioritize which deserve that extra time.

Results: I have managed to read 21 books on my list so far this year. Lagging behind my goal of 30. I have posted a list of 7 professional development books from this year’s reading list.

What about you? Do you have any other hacks that work well?