Reading is fundamental. Yet somewhere on the path from all-nighters in college to here, most of us lost the drive, time or impetus to read with the intensity, purpose or sheer volume we did when we were in school.

As leaders, though, we are required to use our brains to solve problems, remain innovative and inspire creativity. Books provide a great counter-balance to experience when developing and maintaining that muscle.

Here are a few reasons and ways to bring reading back into the daily routine.


Certain industries: finance, politics, media, require leaders to read daily just to maintain a basic level of functioning. However, many of us can get away with not reading anything with any regularity.

Thus, for those of us without the underlying requirement, we can take a page from our colleagues in these fields to bring the reading habit back.

First, consider finance. The Wall Street Journal and Financial Times have remained relevant despite being newspapers because of their timeliness, and the high quality and varied information they provide their specific audience. They are also produced and updated daily and available in a number of formats, which makes them easy to obtain and digest.

While neither publication may be as relevant to us, we can follow this model by subscribing to a more topical periodical on a platform we will use. For example, MultiBriefs provides topical, exclusive content in a variety of industries; HBR provides several leadership newsletters; and there is a podcast for everyone. Subscribing to these services is the first step in getting relevant content into our hands.

Once we have that content flowing to us, it makes it easier to incorporate into the slower spots of our day, like waiting for a call to start, sitting in the airport or standing in line for coffee.


The next thing to do is recognize the different ways we process content and the differences in content we want to process. A heady analysis of performance metrics might be something to save until we have quiet, not something to skim while grabbing a skinny latte.

Thus, the next step is to take a new look at the times in our day when we are best set up to mentally process thought pieces, more intricate analyses or, in general, deeper reads. Our gut reaction might be, well, never. But that is not true.

As leaders we all know our daily cycles, simply acknowledging that in the morning over a cup of coffee or in the evening with a glass of bourbon is that good time for us is critical for taking the step to recapturing that time for reading.

Similarly, we should all know by know whether we are the type of leader that has to dive right in (read a book every day starting now) or slowly add a habit (let’s start with one New Yorker article per week). Play to that strength and start incorporating deeper reads into the appropriate time of day.

The bottom line is, as the folks at Farnam Street say, “finding time to read boils down to choices about how you allocate your time. And allocating your time is how successful people increase productivity.”