Six months ago, I began experimenting with a new schedule. I wanted to be more intentional about how I use the time when my brain is most productive (mornings). Specifically, I wanted to read long-form writings (books, papers, etc.) when I first wake up instead of exercising. (I still exercise, but usually at lunch or in the afternoons.)
This change has had a much bigger positive impact than I anticipated. A few takeaways:
- Optimized learning – My brain absorbs new, and sometimes complex, concepts better in the morning when it’s fresh. After reading something new, I think about it throughout the day and sometimes have a new insight. I don’t do mindless or busywork activities when my brain is fresh.
- Relearning how to read – I took time to study the most effective way to read. I’m now more intentional about focusing on a single concept I want to learn about and seeking out books by those who have mastered the concept (or have a superior understanding of it). I read these materials with the intent to understand the critical part of their argument, not the supporting details. This has accelerated the pace at which I read and understand a concept. After I understand one concept, I move to the next concept and repeat the process.
- Pace – I finish books much faster, which means I’m learning much faster.
- Habit – Reading first thing in the morning has established a habit that is second nature now. My brain expects to learn something new every morning.
- Book list – I've found that as I’ve accelerated the rate at which I consume books, I've also accelerated the rate at which I add new books to my reading list.
- Challenge – I initially set a daily goal for my reading that pushed me. I now regularly hit that goal and will expand that goal to push myself a little harder.
- Night reading – I still read in the evenings too, but I tend to read historical books, such as biographies. For me, nighttime reading is not optimal for learning new concepts.
This experiment has instilled a new habit into my life that I think will have a big impact in the long run. I’m still tweaking things a bit but should have my approach fine-tuned and daily goals solidified by the beginning of the new year.