How to create an ATOMIC reading habit

<Breaking Tsundoku - Part 7>

 

This post will cover:

  • some nuggets from the book Atomic Habits by James Clear and a one page visual summary

  • My formula for how many books you can read in a year

 

If you read for 5 minutes a day you'll complete 7-8 books a year.*


Surely you can spare just 5 mins a day? Sounds easy - right?


Well, that's the biggest challenge of all. Forming a regular, new habit sounds easy, but in reality life just gets in the way. Dogs need to be walked, chins needs to be shaved and the bloody dishwasher still needs to be emptied.


In fact, forming habits is so tricky whole books have been written on the subject. My personal fave is Atomic Habits by James Clear. Here's some nuggets:


Start small

"Look for a way to get 1% better. Small habits don't add up, they compound."

I would suggest "read 1 page" is a great place to start.


Forget about setting goals

"this leads us to outcome-based habits. The alternative is to build identity-based habits"

What is it about reading more books that appeals to you personally?


Figure out who you want to become

"The process of building habits is actually the process of becoming yourself"

Choosing content that aligns with your values and purpose in life will dramatically increase your chance of success.

 

He also states that "any habit can be broken down into a feedback loop that involves four steps", which he converts into a model The 4 Laws of Behavioural Change (i.e. how to create a good habit)


Law 1 - Make it OBVIOUS

"The two most common cues are time and location"

Pairing a new habit with a specific time and place will make it easier to implement. i.e. at 8am I will read for 5 mins on the sofa in the lounge.


Law 2 - Make it ATTRACTIVE

"the expectation of a rewarding experience motivates us to act in the first place"

Choose a book that someone you know has read, or is reading. Human nature is to fit in, and belong, so grab a book that will enable you to start a conversation or gather some approval or interest from friends or family.


Law 3 - Make it EASY

"Start with repetition, not perfection. You don't need to map out every feature of a new habit, you just need to practice it."

Set a reminder, for a time when you're most likely to succeed, leave your book next to the chair. create an environment that encourages you to be able to sit and read for 5 mins, again and again.


Law 4 - Make it SATISFYING

"increases the odds that a behaviour will be repeated next time"

Don't start with a heavy academic book that feels like a chore to read. Start with something light, easy to read and fun, on a topic you're genuinely interested in.

 

Here's a visual summary of the book.



 

*The highly scientific calculation is my very own. Let me break down the component parts.


Avg # of pages in a non-fiction book = 250

Avg reading speed for a single page = 1 minute (therefore 5 minutes = 5 pages)


250 / (5 pages x 7 days a week) = 7.1 weeks to read a book

52 weeks in a year / 7.1 = 7.3 books a year


This formula assumes a basic starting point, however, if you're an experienced inspectional reader, have some speed reading skills and have more than 5 minutes a day, the number of books you can read in a year will shoot through the roof.

 

In conclusion


Forming a new reading habit requires a little bit of effort, but not too much to make it insurmountable.


Start small, make it easy and satisfying and keep repeating until it becomes the norm.


Good luck! I'm off to empty the dishwasher.


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