One of the biggest advocates of the power of reading is none other than Warren Buffett. Known as the “Oracle of Omaha,” Buffett is a globally recognized investment guru and one of the richest and most respected businessmen in the world. Since 1965 he has led the multinational conglomerate known as Berkshire Hathaway, which as of 2017, boasts assets valued upwards of $620bn.
To this day, Buffett has said that he spends up to 80% of his time reading everything from newspapers and books to article snippets. He has made a habit of prioritizing reading and knows exactly what to read in order to find the information he needs or to come up with creative ideas and new information.
Why is reading so important to Warren Buffett?
He sees it as a long-term investment and believes that the knowledge you absorb now will build up over time much like compound interest, which Buffett also praises as one of the key reasons behind his success.
Buffett has stated that one of the key benefits of reading on a regular basis is that you base more and more of your decisions on rational, logical arguments, and less on your personal opinions or beliefs.
The ways in which we learn will differ from person to person, but ultimately there is evidence to suggest that there is no substitute for reading. It’s one of the most common, and oldest, ways that people learn.
How to build a reading habit like Warren Buffett
It’s likely that you’ve never considered reading a priority next to your day job, your side projects or other interests. Rather than seeing reading as an option or a hobby, you should first learn to perceive reading as an important task that you need to place above other things in your daily routine.
Once you’ve adopted this mentality you should consider the following recommendations that we’ve put together based on the reading routine of Mr. Buffett.
1. Set a target for how much you’d like to read each day
Try to define a quantifiable target for how much you want to read each day. It’s probably wise to start with a smaller amount of reading and build it up over time: While Warren Buffett might read 500 pages each day, you might want to start with a goal like:
“read 3 pages every day”
Why only three pages a day? Well, it’s realistic: in all likelihood you’ll be able to read at least three pages per day. As you gradually increase this, it’ll appear less and less of a challenge as you start developing the consistent habit of reading.
2. Set aside time to actively think about or review what you’ve read
One of the lesser known aspects of Buffett’s reading routine is that he sets aside time to reflect on whatever he has read. Over the years this has become second-nature to Buffett, but for you to make it a habit, you should designate a set period of time after each reading session fro reflection. Think about what you’ve read and how it might influence a current decision you’re facing. You could set a goal of:
“Write down 1 key takeaway from your day’s reading”
This will help you retain what you’ve read, and ultimately help you learn faster and remember what you’ve learned. As you increase the number of pages you read you’ll also be able to increase the number of notes you make.
3. Record how and when you read a particular book or article
An ideal place to do this is somewhere like Goodreads, which also let’s you share what you’ve been reading to other members. This is a sub-habit inspired by the routine of Buffett, but suggested by French literature professor Pierre Bayard, who recommends that you document how you chose to read a book as well as what you thought of it.
Bayard recommends a simple classification scale that you can get familiar with quickly, such as:
- SB book I have skimmed
- HB book I have heard about
- FB book I have forgotten
- ++ extremely positive opinion
- + positive opinion
- – negative opinion
- – extremely negative opinion
And the actual habit might look something like:
“Record the day’s reading activity every evening by using a classification scale”
The reasoning behind this technique is that upon reflecting on a book or article some time after you’ve read it, it might shed a different light on the content itself. This is another effective mechanism for learning more from what you read.