Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Habits, Practicing Self-Control, and Reading Lists


Me! Hey there!
  One of the biggest challenges for myself ( a newly minted Graduate Student ) is learning, and re-learning, better habits.  I have been stuck in a series of what some might call ‘detrimental’ habits over the last year – eating more fast food than home cooked food, waking up later instead of sleeping earlier, etc… These habits are not alien to college/grad-students, but some other habits I have are unique to me.

I have the annoying/awesome habit of buying books almost as an impulse to different emotions: had a good day? BUY A BOOK! Had a bad day? BUY A BOOK! Not sure what to do today? BUY A BOOK! Its become almost mandatory that I must stay away from the local Barnes & Nobel.

The face of the enemy! 
                I am also highly impatient which leads to something absurdly dumb: if I don’t have time to read the new book I bought? I leave it on a shelf, or set it aside “until I get the time.” Which, mostly, I never do. So, in a sense, my inability to manage my free time + my book buying habit has lead me to amass books I’ve never read.

Don’t get me wrong, I read a lot of books in a month, but they’re either re-reads of books I love, or they are books I bought years ago. I decided then that my habits need to be adjusted with newer, better habits.

1.       Only buy two to three new books a month. Period. For any reason, good or bad. I can’t deny myself the urge to buy books, but enforcing a limit will help me manage what I spurge on.

2.       Any book(s) bought will have a required allotment of ‘reading time’ set aside for them. We’re not talking a lot, like, 15-20 minutes? The thing about this habit is it HAS to be enforced with a timer. The aim is, if the book isn't great, I am not wasting a lot of my time and will eventually stop reading because it stinks. If the book is good I’ll MAKE more time in my schedule to read more because it’s GOOD. Case in point: I picked up Lev Grossman’s book The Magicians. The book is great and I am now starving to read more, but I am keeping myself set for 15 minutes a night for a week before I then decide to rush off and spend hours reading more.

A chilling vision of my future home ... :o ....

Currently my reading list is both for fun and for meditation. I am reading the following books ---

1.       Lev Grossman’s The Magicians
2.       A Joseph Campbell Companion
5.       In The Buddha’s Words

I've made the most progress in The Magicians, however the Joseph Campbell Companion has been interesting because it’s not so much a ‘novel’ as it is a compilation of interesting points, quotes, and topics that Mr. Campbell talked about before he died.

Anyway, what does this have to do with being a Grad Student? For me, this is all preparing me to have better time/reading management skills. This does not imply I was ever bad before, but my reading/writing habits will be more focused now and I can’t slack off.

What kinds of reading habits do you have? How do you try and harness BAD habits to become GOOD ones?

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