With so much going on everyday, who has time to sit down and read? Would you be able to make time for reading if it helped you accomplish more? Daily reading improves productivity. You don’t even have to read for long at a time – just make it a daily habit. As a whole, reading has far more benefits than just pleasure, making it well worth setting aside a little time daily for it.
Does It Matter What You Read?
Does it matter what you read? Yes and no. One way reading improves productivity is through stress reduction. But if you’re only reading the daily headlines, you may feel more stressed than relaxed. Ideally, opt for books, newspapers, magazines, and even blogs that help relax you, entertain you, or educate you (such as for a hobby or your career).
If you feel your blood pressure rising, find something else to read. Otherwise, you may not experience any of the benefits. Most studies, though, tend to focus on books when it comes to reading benefits.
The act of losing yourself in a story helps shut out the rest of the world. As a result, it becomes a break for your mind. In one study, reading for only six minutes a day helped reduce stress by up to 68 percent.
Another study found reading for up to 30 minutes a day reduced stress just as well as yoga and humor. People who make daily reading a habit will also experience a lower heart rate and lower blood pressure.
Less stress helps increase your ability to stay focused and concentrate, making you more productive. Of course, this means taking the time to read for pleasure, not just the latest memo or policies from work.
Increases Quality of Sleep
If you don’t sleep well, your productivity suffers. Reading boosts productivity by helping you sleep better. Reading is suggested as part of a healthy bedtime routine. This is mainly in part due to its stress-busting benefits. By clearing your mind and immersing yourself in a good book before bed, you’re more relaxed, fall asleep faster, and sleep more deeply. For the best results, opt for physical books, as screen time may keep you awake longer.
Reduces Cognitive Decline
It’s important to keep your mind active to prevent cognitive decline. Reading and other mentally-stimulating activities have been proven to help reduce the chance of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. So if you want to stay productive as you get older, reading will help with that, too, by keeping your mind sharper.
Strengthens Your Brain
Regular reading improves productivity by strengthening your brain. This isn’t just by expanding your understanding of complex topics or improving your vocabulary, which reading does do.
In one study using MRIs to study brain activity, subjects read part of a novel each day. The MRIs showed increased brain activity. For days after the subjects finished reading, their brains remained active. The connections within the brain continued to grow stronger and more complex, which is a good thing.
However, the changes started to decline without continued reading. Create a daily reading habit to continually strengthen your brain, which can lead to improved memory, focus, and concentration.
Creating a Daily Reading Habit
The only way reading boosts productivity is if you do it regularly. While you don’t need to tackle lengthy classic novels, find genres that interest you. You can read fiction or non-fiction. Whatever you find stimulating (that doesn’t stress you out), read it.
With today’s hectic schedules, fitting in time to read, whether with a physical or ebook, isn’t always easy. One of the best ways to do this is to keep a book with you at all times. An e-reader app like Kindle is free and gives you access to millions of books, some of which are free. Plus, you can read on your phone or tablet while waiting in line or during a work break.
You can also keep a physical book on your nightstand to read a few pages right before bed. Committing to just a few pages or 10 to 15 minutes is ample to start seeing benefits.
If you’re really busy, you may not have time to read a full book. Read condensed, stimulating books that help you learn more and relax, though these usually focus solely on non-fiction and self-help. The following are great options for increasing how much you read, even if you don’t have much time:
- Blinkist – Bite-sized non-fiction and podcasts starting at $99.99/year
- 12min – Condensed popular non-fiction starting at $69.30/year
- StoryShots – Condensed free and premium content of bestselling non-fiction
- Instaread – 15-minute book summaries for $90/year
If you’re not sure what to start reading first, consider some of the most useful productivity books to increase productivity and get all the reading benefits, too.
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