When asked in this book what he would do if he could do it all over again, Tim Keller gave a simple, yet alarming response: “do less surfing on the internet.”
“I think the internet is the friend of information but the enemy of thought,” Keller said. “There are a hundred other things that would be better: more time with my wife, more time praying and meditating, more time reading,” he added. Tim Keller would have spent less time on the internet, and I’m sure many of us who are addicted to technology may end up saying the same thing.
Several weeks ago, I read a helpful article that described the death of reading. The premise of the article is that, in short, because of technology, many of us are not reading as much as we used to (or as much as we’d like to).
What do you do?
I don’t think the remedy is to remove technology. I love technology. The people who incessantly talk about how life was better before all these technological advances are insufferable to be around. Technology is a blessing. But like all blessings, your time on technology must be stewarded well.
Over the years, I’ve implemented a few technological tricks that have helped me get more things done and, in particular, remove distractions to read more books.
No, none of these tips are life-changing, earth-shattering, or ground-breaking in any way. But they’re ultra practical and things you can implement in your life right away.
How to Read More Books Despite Digital Distractions
In no particular order, here are 5 tips:
1. Put your phone on airplane mode when you’re not using it
No, seriously. Try it. If I’m not using my phone, it’s almost always on airplane mode. And when it’s on airplane mode, no one can get a hold of me and notifications do not alarm me. And since my phone doesn’t make any noise, I’m less inclined to check it and more inclined to read.
This is better than placing your phone on silent since silent mode can still vibrate and alarm you (unless you adjust this in your settings). Just one noise and before you know it, you’re Facebook creeping somebody and you’ve wasted 30 minutes.
When I’m reading a book, I put my phone on airplane mode and put it in another room (that way I’m not tempted to touch it). Then, every hour or so I’ll check it. Nothing important? Cool. It goes back on airplane mode and I get back to reading. It’s that simple.
You don’t have to be on an airplane to put your phone on airplane mode. It won’t damage your phone. Start doing this to avoid distractions and get more reading done.
2. Don’t start your day by looking at technology
For some of you, this is unavoidable. You have to check your phone or laptop for work or health reasons. That’s understandable.
But if you can control it, try not to check any technology immediately upon rising.
Lots of reason, but the main one I have in mind is momentum.
How you begin your day sets the tone for the rest of the day. That’s why morning routines are so powerful and why it’s important to get the day off to a good start. If you start your day by tweeting or texting or checking email, you can almost guarantee that this will carry with you through the rest of the day, which means you’ll check technology way more had you not started your day that way.
Start your day with Bible reading, prayer, journaling, worship, serving your spouse, cleaning, cooking breakfast, drinking coffee, or whatever. Just keep your phone on the charger (and on airplane mode).
3. Don’t end your day by looking at technology
If how you start your day sets the tone for the rest of the day, then how you end your day will inevitably carry over into the next day.
If possible, try to shut down all technology 1-2 hours before bed.
Studies show that you’ll sleep better this way.
And if you can use this time to read, you can read a book a month. Can your life benefit by reading 12 more books a year?
4. Remove push notifications and apps that you don’t need
I currently don’t have the Facebook or Instagram app on my phone. My quality of life — and ability to read more books — have increased substantially since I made this move.
Of course, I can still reach Facebook and Instagram on my phone, but it’s not as accessible.
In the past, I found that I was checking social media way too often. It drained my energy and took away time from reading. So, I removed it and haven’t looked back since. Now if I want to post a photo on Instagram (which I haven’t done in a while), I download the app, post the photo, hang out on Instagram for a few minutes, and then delete the app.
For you, it may not be social media, but something different like e-mail or the Amazon app or Spotify (gulp!).
Apps like moment help you find out how much time you spend on your phone.
And what’s the point of a push notification? Well, to get you to push it. To spend more time on your phone. You may need a few, but most are unnecessary.
Just schedule time in your day to check your technology and you won’t have to be pushing it every 30 seconds. If you allow push notification for everything, you will constantly be bombarded by things that are urgent but not important.
5. Read during the hidden minutes of the day
When I read about the lives of those who read 50, 100, or even 150 books a year, one common denominator is true amongst them all: they always have a book handy, ready to read it during the open time cracks of the day.
Bring a book with you wherever you go and when have a spare moment, use it to read the book, not check snap chat.
I’m not suggesting you read To Kill A Mockingbird during a dull moment of your brother’s wedding (though I have been tempted to bring a book with me to the movie theatre). But many of us are using the extra minutes that we have throughout the day to aimlessly check technology when we can be using that time to read good books.
We don’t need to get rid of technology. The problem is not technology, but our lack of self-control. While I doubt any of the tips above are a slam dunk, I hope you can implement a few of them and, in turn, I hope they help you read more books.
You may also like: