Do Your Reading

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Do what successful people do

Several successful people men and women have been asked about what made them so successful. It may or may not surprise you but all of them will mention that one of the fundamental habits that they developed throughout their lives is reading. Reading books in my opinion is the number one thing you can start doing right now that will help you be wherever you want to be in the future. No matter what your goal is, you can find a book that will help you achieve that goal, be it personal (improve your overall fitness) or professional (get better at your job or change career path). Forget about “quick wins” and “life hacks” and just start reading.

But I don’t have time”, I hear you say

Yes you have. If you’ve never used this excuse, well done. I’d rather you say I do not want to read because I don’t think it is as important. But if you did… Well, when the average person in Europe spends more than 230 hours per year in front of TV (with Americans scoring even higher) you certainly have 30 minutes a day to read a book or to listen to an audiobook. I am married with kids and I am reading more than I used to do when I was single with plenty of time to spare on anything. We’ve made a conscious decision to throw the TV out the window so we watch no TV in our family, but you don’t have to go that far (though I’d highly, highly recommend it). So, you do have time, but you are spending it elsewhere.

But I don’t know what sort of books to buy

There is a ton of good books out there in about any subject you can possibly imagine. Personally I have one rule. If I get one idea out of a book, that book was well worth its money. Someone has spent years on a subject and by finishing a book, even if only one idea sticks into your mind, you will have saved a lot of time. So far, I’ve not read a book that I believe it was not worth its money. Also if you pick one book it usually references other books which are usually good, so you will never run out of books or ideas.

How to increase your book throughput

Volume is not necessarily the point here but obviously if you just start reading now you will definitely not be the same person after 100 or 200 books. So it would be nice to consume as many books as possible in the shortest period of time possible. This sounds like it’s a stats game, like “look how much I’m reading…” sort of thing, but it’s not about stats at all. It’s about throughout. Obviously you can spend a lot of time reading a book, reflect back on ideas, take notes etc. But what I suggest is you do this selectively. Read a book, then if you think you want to dig a bit deeper on an idea then take some notes, read another book related to that idea and all of a sudden you will have the outcome that you want. What you want to do is get access to a lot of good ideas.

The most effective way to do this in my opinion is by listening to audiobooks. Get a subscription to Audible or something and start listening! Cooking? Can also listen to an audiobook! Running? More audiobooks! Driving? Even more audiobooks! In fact you can do certain types of workout and listen to an audiobook at the same time, getting the most out it! Just get into this habit and you will definitely improve in whatever you want to improve. I’ve gone through nearly 70 books last year and that’s thanks to audiobooks. Listen to 2x/2.5x or even 3x if you can, depending on the audiobook this is easier than you think.

Just a side note here, for those of you that work out intensively, depending on what you do you might not be able to work out and listen to an audiobook at the same time (there are times I cannot even do simple arithmetic during a workout when it’s really intensive…). That won’t work, but you can still do it during warmup, stretching, so no excuses!

Final thoughts

Reading books has a number of benefits. It stimulates your mind, adds to your existing knowledge, it can reduce your stress, it can improve your vocabulary and many many more. I’d be very happy if I managed to convince even one person to start reading after they’ve read this post. I cannot stress how important it is and how much I’ve gained from this habit. Happy reading/listening everyone!

Vasileios Vlachos
Cloud Engineer

I am a value driven engineer, helping my clients maximise their ROI from their cloud deployments.