Habits for a creative life: read a book instead of your phone

Pile of books in a cosy home

It’s highly likely that you already spend a significant chunk of your day reading.

According to Entrepreneur, the average person spends at least two hours per day consuming content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Collectively, these hours could end up consuming more than five years of your life.

Think that’s bad? It gets worse: the average teenager spends nine hours per day on social media. That’s more time than they spend with family, with friends, at school or asleep.

Next time you’re sat on a train or a bus, look around. Count the number of people absorbed in their phones. Try your best not to judge them. Most of us are guilty, to some extent at least. But it’s something we can easily change.

If you’re serious about making the most of your time and reading things that add value to your life, make a habit to stop reaching for your smartphone. When you get the urge, reach for a book instead.

Reading real books, as opposed to words on a screen, can give your brain a workout, improve your mental health and help you get a good night’s sleep.

You know books. Books with words in them. Books like you used to read in school, with intriguing covers, flickable pages and that unmistakeable, nostalgic book smell. Books by brilliant people, with interesting ideas and creative minds to learn from.

Even if you learn nothing new, the simple act of opening a book and taking time to focus on its words can be beneficial. Various studies show that reading real books, as opposed to words on a screen, can give your brain a workout, improve your mental health and help you get a good night’s sleep.

So which books should you read, and how can you find ones that will be worth your time? Begin by asking yourself the most basic of booky questions: fact or fiction?

Factual books, such as biographies and self-help guides, are great if you feel stuck in a rut and need some practical tips or alternative approaches to life. Fictional books, like novels and short story collections, are excellent for sparking creativity and providing pure, page-turning escapism.

Choosing the perfect book

When choosing a new book to read, nothing beats the local bookshop or library. Scan the covers and spines lining the shelves until something piques your curiosity. Read the first page or two. If you’re compelled to keep going, it’s probably something you’re going to enjoy and gain value from.

Prefer shopping online? Countless lists, reviews and recommendations exist to help you pick the perfect book. Browse Goodreads or Amazon in search of books similar to ones you’ve previously enjoyed, or ask Google for a list of the best books covering a subject you’re interested in.

(The nice people at Do Lectures recently shared their 100 must-read books of 2018 – that might be a good place to start.)

The internet still has its place, of course. Luckily for digital copywriters like me, people still find value in reading well-researched, high quality online content.

But if you’re bored with scrolling through social media and like the idea of finding creative inspiration someplace other than your phone screen, a book could be the answer you’re looking for.

Next time you need to catch a bus or train, spend the journey reading a book instead of your phone. Maybe you’ll inspire a fellow creative passenger to do the same.