Your day is made up of moments, strung together into the wonderful whirlwind of your life. Some are crazy, some are exciting, some make your toes curl and some make your blood boil. My favourite moments are the quiet ones – the ones where you can just sit down, close your eyes, slow down your breathing and just think…
Other moments aren’t as nice – they’re boring. When you’re waiting for a train to arrive or staring out the window once you finally get on. When you’re trying to convince your brain to go to sleep or when you want to lie in bed for just 5 more minutes. When you’re grabbing a quick sad desk lunch while you scroll through infinite tweets or the flood of engagement announcements on Facebook this week.
There’s a better use of your time. You could be reading something.
Like my favourite tiny quiet moments, the ones spent reading still are still as blissfully indulgent as time alone with your thoughts, but with the added bonus of knowledge and perspective (probably).
When you speak, you’re just repeating things you already know. When you listen, that’s when you learn. Reading is just a weird form of silent listening – this wonderful way of absorbing someone’s thoughts and ideas to process them in the scope of your own.
The secrets here are to a) recognise the perfect reading moments in your day and b) have a list of material ready and waiting.
Recognising the right moments
While building habits do tend to take time, the best way to speed up the process is to attach them to a trigger. Consciously tell yourself that whenever you feel bored, you should read something. I used to automatically open up 9gag whenever I felt a pang of boredom – being aware of the trigger, I decided to use it for my benefit and replace the mental chewing gum with a better habit.
Having a reading list ready
If you start your quick reading session looking for something to chew on, you will get distracted along the way. You need to go into this prepared with a book, a blog or a reading list ready and waiting.
The reading list I’m working through is wonderful. The pieces are big and meaningful and interesting – directly applicable to the field I’m specialising in and a great way to refine my thought patterns and ideas. The list is long and so are the articles, making it a great list to work through over a few weeks, reading and digesting just one item every day.
If you haven’t found the perfect list or prefer finding something du jour that you can finish reading in your stolen moment, I would recommend Medium: the glorious pool of knowledge where you’re almost guaranteed to find something interesting.
If you prefer longer stories over short-form articles, you could carry a book or kindle around with you. If you’re worried about getting through it, you’ll be surprised how far 5 minutes here and there will take you towards completion.
If you prefer to listen, then as always, I will recommend Audible. It works particularly well if you’re curbing boredom while you’re going somewhere – on the tube into work, walking through the city to meet someone or that exhaustingly long bus ride on your way home. It’s a nice way to escape.
So there’s a nice long list of ways to read – now go forth and do it. Fill your mind with thoughts, ideas and new perspectives. Curb the boredom and remember that every tiny decision you make can take you one step closer to better.