Recently, I completed my challenge of reading 20 pages or more of books every day for 30 days. It wasn’t always easy to stick to the challenge, but I made it through. I’m not going to mention any particular books I’ve read, because I don’t really recommend them. They were just okay.

The first week was fairly easy. I used a tablet. I chose a book that I thought about reading for a while, and I guess because of my curiosity, I was able to read a fair chunk of the book in the first week. Each chapter was roughly 15 pages. So, I would read two chapters every evening usually. I figured it would be better to complete a chapter rather than read a third of the way through and then have to refresh my memory of what I read.

By the second week, I was getting bored with the book. I thought I’d find some interesting insights by then, but the story seemed to be dragging for me. So, I’d read one chapter, and then would switch to another book to finish up my 20 or so pages.

Eventually, I finished the first book (thank God). I mean, it wasn’t a bad book, but it wasn’t as great as all the hype I’ve heard about it. And, I was just glad I could finally say I’ve read it, and could decide whether it was good, okay, or just plain bad.

The second book was more interesting to me. It was a self-help book. I didn’t really learn anything new about myself per se, but I thought some of the exercises in the book could help me in the future if I ever decide to embark on ambitious goals or dreams again. It helps you solidify plans and take action. And also, the chapters were longer, so I could finish my goal of reading 20 pages easily by just reading one chapter. So, that was a relief.

And then eventually, I started on my third book. There was one particular day that was stressful for me. I was feeling tired earlier in the evening, but I didn’t want to go to sleep yet. I knew I had to finish reading 20 pages. I really struggled this day. As some of you know, I experience something like hearing voices, but more intense. Basically, the voice kept distracting me from the text. I would read a sentence, and not even comprehend it. And at one point, I was reading each word one at a time, really emphasizing it in my head. But the next second, I would literally forget the last word and would not correlate any connection between the words. It was horrible.

But still, I didn’t want to fail just because the voice was getting in the way. So, I soldiered through. I hardly understood the text, but I kept going and finished the 20 pages anyway. And no, I didn’t go back to re-read. I don’t really find that necessary, unless you’re studying something, or unless you think that you will gain some valuable insights.

Speaking of not comprehending the text, there were some times when I would read the first book (an autobiography) and would either zone out or just not really absorb what I was reading. I didn’t go back to re-read those parts either, for the most part, unless I felt like I missed something interesting. I like to just power through and move forward. If it’s a text I really enjoyed, I might re-read it. When I just continue reading the next thing, I feel like it might teach my brain to focus and if it misses something, oh well. Maybe that’s not how the brain works… But anyway, that’s just how I read. I’ve heard others advise something similar, of not going back to re-read something, but just to move on.

After the 30-day reading challenge, I think I read the very next day, and then missed like two days of reading. The first day was because my hearing voices experience felt intense and I didn’t really feel in the mood to try to concentrate on reading. So, I didn’t push myself. The next day was Thanksgiving and we were out, so I was tired and didn’t feel like reading. I thought this was strange because I thought the habit would stick, right? Why wasn’t I in the mood, even if I was tired? Like, I didn’t even have a thought of, “Ooh, maybe I should read, even just a little bit.”

Well, I guess it had to do with the tiredness because the next day (Black Friday), I felt the urge to read. I felt pretty stable, not tired or overwhelmed by voices. It’s still too early to tell the overall effects of this reading habit and what it has done for me after, but I’m hoping it’s like a habitual urge or something. Does that make sense? I mean, I just hope that I feel more inclined to read than to just play games or to just watch videos in the evenings.

I’ve mentioned this before, how if I could re-do the challenge, I would read less pages, maybe 10 or 15. Even 15 is ambitious, considering I was barely reading a book a year. 5 pages is an easy goal. Maybe that would have been nice. Though, I did finish 2 books within the 30 days by setting a higher target. I don’t even think I would have finished a single book if the target was a measly 5 pages. I might have just gotten bored with the first book and abandoned it altogether. But because I was reading at least 20 pages a day, I thought, “Well, I might as well finish another chapter.”

I’m not officially doing another 30-day or any kind of challenge for reading. But, I think on days when I’m doing fairly well, or even if I’m feeling a little tired or overwhelmed by voices, I can set a soft goal of reading 5 pages a day. It’s not a lot to commit to. I remember pushing through, struggling to understand what I was reading when the voice particularly distressed me one day. So, I think it will help me build up strength and power through, doing a task despite how I’m feeling. And, maybe it will teach the voice, “I’m not gonna give in just because you’re acting out.” I think of the voice as a child. So, maybe reading like this every day despite how it acts will discipline it. That’s my wishful thinking.

I’m not a disciplined person or anything when it comes to these 30-day trials or challenges. I try to make them as simple as possible. I actually tried to tag coloring to my reading habit, which I did do successfully for I believe 24 or 25 days in a row. But then, I had a bad day of just feeling tired and overwhelmed by the voice the next couple days (after finishing reading for 30 days). I added coloring days into my challenge, so I thought I’d spend a few extra days reading and coloring together. It didn’t pan out that way. I should have just stuck to reading. That was me not keeping things simple, which I should have done.

I recommend, even if you think you can do more, keep a baseline. Don’t push yourself to do more. Don’t tack on more goals needlessly. I thought I was being clever by planning out evening activities to distract me from hearing voices. But, it became a checklist of things to do in the evening before sleeping. And, it kind of took the fun out of those two activities (reading and coloring). I think it’s better to stick to one goal or one habit at a time. Because then, even if it doesn’t seem fun in the moment, you eventually grow to enjoy it or learn more about it or just naturally do it anyway. But when you’re juggling two or more goals, you never fully focus on doing your best with just one. Eventually, you could build up to do more. But when you’re first starting off, it’s better to choose one goal to focus on.

I was trying to read every day as a coping skill, and also I guess as something “productive” to do. And honestly, it worked pretty well for me. The voice didn’t bother me most days. Though, the voice still bothered me when I was tired. In my head, I’m thinking, “I don’t want to fail my goal.” But, the voice will play devil’s advocate and say, “Sleep is a priority!” I hate when the voice tries to justify doing things differently. Neither option is wrong per se, but if I want to read, let me read in peace. I take a while to fall asleep anyway, even when I’m tired, so I might as well accomplish my goal. That’s my line of thinking.

I want to do more of these 30-day trials or challenges so that I can build up some discipline, and also assert my power over the voice. I want to show it, “I’m gonna do this thing, and whether you agree or not, it’s gonna happen.” I’m so tired of the voice influencing me just because I don’t want to deal with it. It’s my body, my mind, let me do what I want.

Honestly, I don’t really feel accomplished after reading for 30 days. I mean, it is something because I have had trouble sticking to habits and goals in the past. And, I finally completed an intentional 30-day challenge. I feel satisfied that I read a couple of books and will probably finish one more by the end of the year. But, it’s not anything great. I don’t feel elated or surprised. I’m more so like, “Yeah, that’s a thing I did.”

I am glad that the voice did, for the most part of this challenge, calm down in the evenings. Though now the challenge is officially over, it tries to convince me that I don’t have to read. And yeah, it’s true, I don’t have to read, but I still want to read. I still want to have a long-time habit of reading, so that I can finish reading all those books I was curious about or will be curious about in the future.

December is approaching soon, and I don’t yet have a 30-day challenge set in stone. Maybe I will research a few ideas. I did think about writing a book about myself and my experiences with hearing voices, so I thought of doing something like NaNoWriMo but for non-fiction and in a different month. I thought though that maybe I should give myself more time to plan it out. Some other 30-day trial ideas include some form of exercise, practicing piano again, producing music, livestreaming, drinking more water, and blogging (again, because I did do this last August to September, but it’s no longer on the web). I’m not really leaning toward a particular goal. I do want to do something though.

Before I embarked on my 30-day reading challenge, I thought I could start with reading 15 pages a day. Eventually, I settled on 20 pages. Even if this was doable, I think I should have chosen a less ambitious habit to build. If I could go back, I would have started with 5 pages. I know, that’s 25% of the goal I set. But, the point is consistency. If you’re not hitting your goal daily, you’re more likely to drop the habit and not commit to it long-term. It might even end up demotivating you.

The reason I initially chose 15 pages a day (and the increased it to 20 pages) was because I wanted to guarantee that I could finish a book within the 30 days. I ended up choosing 20 pages so I could finish it in less time. But, I didn’t really think about the fact that I haven’t finished reading a book within a month in years. This is quite an ambitious goal, and for someone who has not executed ambitious goals for a few years now, is it really a good idea?

As I continued with reading every day, I thought about how much easier it would have been if I chose to stick to 10 pages instead. And now, I’m saying that I should have set it even lower, to 5 pages a day. Why? Simply because 5 pages seems so accessible to me. It doesn’t take more than 10 minutes, it’s easy to get started, and most likely I will continue and end up reading more anyway. It’s like telling yourself to walk around the block once, but you end up going two or three times once you start moving. Or floss just one tooth, and you end up flossing all your teeth. You want to start off so small that you will definitely not say no.

If I didn’t read more than 5 pages a day, I would have still finished reading 150 pages that month. That’s more than what I’ve been doing for years. And after getting used to that, I could increase the goal by a page each time. I could slowly build up from there.

The biggest problem I’m facing now is, how long can I continue reading 20 pages a day without giving up one day? It feels like a struggle. I had to start finding ways to make it easier for myself without reducing the number of pages. I want to stick to the goal I set. I don’t want to compromise.

So, I’ve been reading multiple books. I read a chapter of the book I started with, and then switch to a newer book that has more of my interest and that I consider to be a “lighter” read. I also sometimes read books earlier in the day so I don’t have to read too much in the evenings. It kind of goes against what I originally planned. That’s because another reason I set a goal of reading more pages is because I wanted to see how effective it was in terms of my mood and my experience with hearing a voice, especially in the evenings. If I read only 5 pages, I might not see much of a difference. And if I read earlier in the day, I’m not really going to experience the potential benefits it would yield to me in the evenings when the voice is more active. So, there’s a toss-up.

Still, I could have set a goal of 5 pages, read more when I started off, noticed the results, and decided to read more or less depending on the upcoming days. Now, I feel stuck with this goal of 20 pages per day. I want to complete it because I want to have that sense of accomplishment of sticking to a goal no matter what. Even if it’s boring or I’m not feeling particularly good one day, I want to be able to see through to the end of it.

A lot of times, I give up on a goal because it seems too boring, or it seems to take up more energy. I think if I can stick to a goal despite it not being exactly how I want it to be, it can help me to become more disciplined in other areas. For example, I’ll be more willing to take on certain tasks that I might have to do in the future that I might not be interested in but will benefit me. Or, I might get into other activities good for my health such as exercise, even if I’m not into it at first.

I think it would have been better if I also built up more accountability or a more social aspect to the challenge. Sure, you’re building up your own knowledge. But, there’s something about sharing and connecting with others that helps you to stick to the goal. It’s like having a workout partner, or a study buddy. Even if you don’t look forward to the goal, you’re likely to look forward to hanging out with that person.

Right now, I’m reminding myself of the reasons why I started this challenge:

– I wanted to find a long-term habit that I’d like to develop in the evenings beyond just playing games on my phone.
– The habit might help me better deal with my experience of hearing a voice.
– My sleep might improve if I’m reading in the evenings before I go to sleep.
– I could gain more knowledge.
– I could develop better communication, coming up with more ideas based on what I was reading.
– I might develop a skill.
– It could help me with eventually writing a book of my own.
– I could share what I’ve learned with others.
– I could build up discipline.
– My mood could improve.

There’s a lot of potential benefits. I’m hoping that the more I remind myself, the more I’ll want to continue sticking to the habit.

I want to note that in the first week, I had no trouble sticking to the habit of reading 20 pages every evening. The second week was harder. I was starting to get bored with what I was reading. And also, I was not feeling particularly well one day.

This can happen with any 30-day challenge. Imagine if you set a goal to go to the gym every day for 30 days. Then one day, you feel sore. Or, you get sick. Or, you just lack energy. Do you still go? It’s easy to excuse yourself and skip a day when you think of those situations.

Sometimes, there’s a legit reason to quit. For example, if you get injured and you need to rest to heal, of course you should stop exercising for a while. However, boredom is not really a good reason to me, at least for a 30-day challenge. You have to stick to the 30 days to see the real benefits, and to maybe grow interest if you’re lacking it. Some people find learning a foreign language to be boring in the beginning, but once they’re able to actually communicate with others in that language, suddenly it becomes a whole new world.

I initially told myself that if I read 100 pages of a book and didn’t find it interesting, I could stop reading that book and move on to another one. My bored feeling didn’t come 100 pages in, but 200 pages in. I still wanted to finish the book because I thought maybe I’d find the later parts interesting. Plus, then I could say for sure whether this book was worth it or not.

Also, I think about all the time I spent playing games in the past. I spent so many hours on it, only to stop and not really gain any benefit from it. If I could do that with games, why couldn’t I spend a little more time finishing reading something and seeing where that leads? Worst case, I don’t learn anything new and dissuade others from reading it.

I do want to continue sticking to my 30-day reading 20 pages a day challenge. I have about two weeks left. I wish I was more disciplined, but hey, it is what it is. I have to accept where I am right now. If 20 pages becomes too difficult, I might reduce the number of pages. I somewhat feel as if I shouldn’t be lenient with myself. But, I don’t want to stress myself out. The whole point in the beginning was to find a relaxing activity to do before bed. At the same time, I don’t want to fall short of my goals. Ah, what a dilemma…

Next time I embark on a 30-day challenge, despite it saying “challenge”, I will make it easier on myself. It’s more like a 30-day trial, not a challenge. I guess I’m using the wrong word here. Trial is more fitting because you’re testing something out to see how it is. Then at the end of the 30 days, you decide if it’s right or not for you. I think a challenge is more like pushing your limits, and that’s not what I’m seeking to do.

Well anyway, I surpassed 10 days of reading 20 pages a day. I don’t know exactly what day I’m on now, though I should hit 2 weeks. That’s an accomplishment, even if I don’t hit 30 days (though I still hope to hit 30 days!). Even if I fail, it’ll be a lesson for me in the future. I will have a better idea of how to form my future 30-day trials.

It’s been over a week into my 30-day reading challenge. I initially thought of reading 15 pages a day, but decided to bump it up to 20 pages a day because I wanted to make sure I’d finish the first book I would be reading in less than 30 days. But now, it feels like a bit of a hassle.

Sometimes my Kindle miscounts the pages (repeating numbers). I think it’s because I changed the settings of the font text, size, and spacing. Maybe under default settings, the pages would work just fine. But, I adjusted the pages so that I could read the text more smoothly.

A chapter of the book I’m currently reading tends to fall under 20 pages. I find most chapters to be around 15 pages. So if I set the goal to be 15 pages, easy, I’d just read one chapter. But since it’s 20 pages, I have to read more. And, I don’t like to leave myself hanging in the middle of text because it’s like listening to a quarter of a conversation and waiting until the next day to hear the rest. When you do that, you generally have to go back to refresh your mind. It’s better to finish a section at a time, even if it’s longer. So for days, I’ve been reading two chapters at a time. I didn’t mind this at first. But, I guess I’m getting a little bored of what I’m reading. So if it weren’t for me challenging myself to read at least 20 pages, I’d stop after one chapter.

One way to troubleshoot this problem is to just read another book. I do have other books checked out that I had yet to read. I tried this a few days ago. The second book I read was a little strange to me though. Interesting, but weird writing. There are a couple of other books, one I know to be good but never quite finished, and another that I anticipate to be good. I could read one of those texts.

Another solution is to read one chapter in the morning and another chapter in the evening. It might be easier to split the time. Sitting for an hour reading the same text requires some mental effort and concentration. But if it’s for 20-30 minutes at a time, it’s easier to complete.

A combination of both ideas is good too. I could read one book in the morning and another in the evening. I will probably end up doing this. I can read the book I’m currently reading first thing in the morning, and then read a new book in the evening.

Of course if I want to do this, I’d have to make time in the morning. This morning, I woke up earlier than usual. I still felt tired, so I tried to go back to sleep. But I didn’t fall back asleep for some time, so I got up and started researching things on my new tablet. And then, I decided to continue coloring a sheet I printed out a couple days ago. I didn’t really think to maybe read instead. So if I wake up early like this again, I can read.

I guess even if I don’t wake up early, I can read after eating breakfast and changing my clothes for the day. It doesn’t have to be the first thing I do every morning. Though, that would be a nice way to start my day. Sometimes, I don’t feel like getting out of bed. So if I have my tablet next to me, I can just reach for it, sit up and start reading. Then when I am more awake, I can get up.

A couple nights ago, I got into coloring. I don’t know what sparked the idea. I just remember searching for markers on Amazon and looking up adult coloring sheets one day. So far, it’s pretty fun and relaxing. I decided to add this as part of the 30-day challenge: read, then color (in the evenings). I started getting into the more “difficult” parts to color on this one sheet I’m working on, so I don’t know that will go. They’re really two separate challenges going on, but it’s just easier for me to extend the reading challenge and finish both by the end of the month. And then, I can decide if I want to continue both habits. I guess it’s still early to tell, but I think that I’ll continue these two habits.

There’s only one other person I know who is doing the reading challenge with me. Though, I believe they decided to wait to start on November 1st. I started early, because well… I had everything set up, and I wanted to do something to distract me from hearing voices, so I thought why not.

It’s nice to have an accountability partner. I check-in with them about my reading habits. I sometimes tell them about what I’m reading. Or, I learn about books they’re interested in. I can share my thoughts about the challenge with that person, and we can encourage each other to continue reading.

I also know of someone else who is doing a 30-day writing challenge. It’s with NaNoWriMo. He’s writing his first novel. He’s also been doing a 365-day blogging challenge since the end of last year. So, that’s also encouraging for me. When I see him making progress on his challenge, I think that I can also progress in my own challenge.

That reminds me, there used to be an app called Lift. It’s now called Coach.Me. I tried looking it up, only to discover that it’s not compatible with my current phone… boo. The reason I liked this app was that you could find other people who were completing similar habits, or you could see your friends’ progress and check in with each other. I think it’d be nice to do something like this again with my reading habit. It might motivate me to see myself completing a 10-day streak, and then a 15-day streak, 20-day streak, etc. I’ll have to find another app to use since I can’t use it. Maybe in the meantime though, I could print out a November calendar and keep track for now. I could mark it with a big red X for reading, and a big blue O for coloring. 😁

I think it’s still too early to feel the benefits of reading 20 pages of a book daily. I guess the major benefit is that I don’t have to focus on hearing voices. And also, reading on a tablet seems to be helpful. There’s something about a screen that allows you to take the focus off hearing voices and tune into what’s in front of you.

I guess also, the book I’m currently reading has inspired a new idea for me., which is working for a crisis helpline. I found out there were volunteer opportunities for just a few hours a week. I think that’s pretty doable and easy. I can see if I enjoy it, and think about getting paid for it if I do. It can also give me some experience later if I decide to coach people virtually.

I’ve deliberately avoided naming the books I’m reading. I only want to name them after I’ve finished reading them and can for certain say that they were enjoyable books. And also, if I were to recommend them, I’d have to think about applying for Amazon’s affiliate program again so I could get a commission. 😂 (I’ve never made any money through that program even though I’ve tried in three times in the past, just a disclaimer… I guess not enough traffic or interest.)

I remember when I was reading books back when I was living in Korea, I would take notes. I would write down thought-provoking quotes or outline the main ideas. I didn’t do that with this particular book. There’s a highlight/note feature on my tablet, but I haven’t used it. I think if I were reading a book with a certain purpose (e.g. improving my success with habits), I’d use the feature. But, the book I’m reading now is simply an autobiography. If I’ve learned anything particularly useful, it’s already in my head through story.

I haven’t really thought about the long-term effects of reading daily, other than I can finally say, “I’ve read X books (since Y / this year / over my lifetime).” I don’t know how many books I’ve actually finished before this reading challenge. I can remember some, like certain book series, or ones from a particular author. And then, there are the many books I’ve read in my childhood. So I guess if I’m going to keep track, I’m going to count it from now on. Maybe I’ll save a list on my computer. (In fact, I created a spreadsheet for this just now.)

I didn’t read this morning, so I’ll probably read two different books tonight. I hope it goes well. I have had trouble completing 30-day challenges in the past. Starting late this summer, I’ve succeeded at two other informal 30-day challenges. So, I’d like to stick to this challenge too.

Last night, I stayed up later than previous nights. I started with watching YouTube videos around 8 PM in the living room. Ideally, I would have stayed in the living room, but I was feeling uncomfortable sitting there. So, I ended up reading in the bedroom. After reading for 2 chapters for 55 minutes, I got curious about other topics and was Googling for a while. Around 11:15 PM, I turned off the lights. But then, I was still curious about what I was Googling, so I only put away my tablet by 12 AM. I think I ended up sleeping before 1 AM. It still took some time to fall asleep because I wasn’t really sleepy, but this night was better because even when I woke up throughout the night, I would focus on falling back asleep. And eventually, I got out of bed by 9:50 AM. Quite an improvement! That’s the earliest I’ve gotten up in weeks.

This time, I got lucky because I found something to keep my mind occupied beyond 10 PM. But if I didn’t, I would have just stayed awake in bed for additional hours. And maybe, I would have woken up later. Who knows.

I’m not sure if it’s necessary to not be in bed while reading. I don’t know how that’s affecting the time it takes me to fall asleep. Some people say the bed should only be for sleeping. But, I’ve also heard of others sitting up in bed to read. Or in some cases, like when someone lives in a studio apartment, the bed might be the place to sit for almost every home activity, like eating or watching videos. Yet, they can sleep fine at night.

My resolution for now is to spend more time on evening activities that will keep me up until at least 11 PM. I thought about getting an adult coloring book. Or, I could just print out coloring pages and buy some colored pencils or markers to fill them in. That might be a relaxing activity. I could start with 15 minutes, or commit to coloring half a page.

In the past, I’ve thought of writing books. When I was younger, I wanted to write fiction. As I grew older, I’ve come around to non-fiction. I don’t typically have any creative ideas for novels. I thought I could journal ideas, but usually, I have writer’s block. Or well, I have no idea what to write. I guess I could research what other people do to draft books. It would not only push me to be more creative, but maybe even be profitable depending on what I write.

I’ve also thought about trying to find some sort of activity book. It reminds me of when I was a kid and was subscribed to the Highlights magazine for kids. They had different kinds of puzzles or activities such as finding differences between two pictures or word searches.

I could also just go through a workbook of a particular subject. I’ve been so bored that I’ve thought about learning or re-learning different subjects, such as math, a foreign language, or English vocabulary. I’ve thought about preparing for various exams just to see how well I would do, like TOPIK or the GRE. But, the material would have to be engaging. I’ve tried dabbling into a Udemy course on Spanish. My progress has been quite slow. It’s just not that interesting to me the way they present the material in the particular course I’m enrolled in.

I think I’m going to order some colored markers today and print out a few adult coloring pages. Then, I’ll have them ready for next time. So far, this is the routine I’ll be experimenting with:

– Watch fun videos on YouTube, or Running Man for at least 30 minutes
– Color in at least half a page
– Read at least 20 pages of a book
– Journal one accomplishment or positive thing that happened that day
– Listen to a sleep meditation if not sleepy

All the activities I listed can also be viewed as coping skills. I hope eventually, I can build up interest in enough activities that I have plenty to choose from rather than create a planned-out routine. Though, I will likely keep part of the routine, such as reading and one-minute journaling. I’ve lost interest over many activities previously, so I’m new ones and old ones to see if my feelings have changed, or if I can change my feelings through repetition. I wasn’t a big book reader before (reading at most one book a year), but I’m trying to change my habits so that I can become one. I’ve found reading on a tablet to be enjoyable.

I hope I can learn to enjoy exercise again. At one point, I was going to the gym regularly (pre-COVID-19). I even remember trying dance classes at some point. But, the tiredness got to me. It probably won’t be an evening activity. I’d rather exercise in the morning or afternoon. It’s possible that once I incorporate more physical activity into my day, my sleep could improve.

I’ve talked about the importance of tracking progress through charts, spreadsheets, or even simple journaling. I haven’t really done anything for tracking my sleep recently besides blogging about it. There’s so many factors that affect sleeping that I’m not sure what to record specifically in a way that won’t overwhelm myself. I did look into sleep logs that various organizations have share online. I might try that, even if it’s short-term. It’d be nice to look back and discover certain patterns with my sleep.

I hope that my sleep pattern continues in a positive trend. My current ideal would be to sleep by 11 PM and wake up by 8 AM. That’s still 9 hours of sleeping or being in bed, though eventually with doing more, I could adjust the times. I’m still hesitant to wake up before 8 AM because sometimes I become anxious about what I should do with all the extra time. It’s a weird concern, but I definitely get that way from hearing voices. I like to minimize hearing voices as much as possible throughout the day, and sleep is one of my coping skills in a way. It’s one of the times when I don’t have to deal with it as much.

I’m not crazy about getting a 9-5 job, but I’ve recently became curious about crisis helpline opportunities. There’s one I recently requested more info about. Ideally, it would work with my schedule. Whether it’s paid or volunteer, I could work between 11AM to 6PM. And, it would have to be part-time. I don’t know if I could concentrate on a regular daily job. I only like committing to consistent projects if I know that I can do it. I definitely won’t entertain the idea of working night hours, because I know how important it is for me to have a routine schedule to minimize hearing voices.

Different things work for different people. This is just what I’ve been trying. So anyway, I’ll try implementing my improvised evening routine. I’ll also try searching for a good sleep log and test it out for a week or so.

Last night, I attempted to rearrange my evening activities so that I could stay up a little later and hopefully fall asleep within 15 minutes or less. Compared to the night before, it was definitely an improvement, but I still have ways to go. I ended up trying to sleep around 10:20 PM. I don’t think I ended up actually falling asleep until an hour later, so that part still needs work. I woke up several times throughout the night, first noticeable around 2 AM, then 5 AM, then 7 AM, then a few times more before I decided to get up at 10 AM. This is progress because I got up an hour earlier than usual, and settled for bed more than an hour later than usual. I went from 14 hours to less than 12 hours in bed trying to focus on sleep.

I initially planned on sleeping around 10:45 PM or later. However, I was trying to adjust to a new schedule. I thought I would feel relaxed watching Running Man. However, I wasn’t too crazy about the particular format of this episode. So instead of watching the whole episode, I finished just the first hour. If I had stuck to the whole episode, I would have slept 20-25 minutes later.

After Running Man, I tried reading. I first attempted reading in the living room. Then, I shifted over to the bedroom. It was a little harder to concentrate compared to previous days. I think it had to do with hearing voices. I kept getting these thoughts of “this is taking long” and “when will I finish”. On previous nights, I didn’t have this problem. I was curious about what I was reading and challenged myself to read more than 20 pages. I feel like the voice was influencing me to feel anxious about finishing. I didn’t have any particular reason to feel rushed or anything. I just wanted to relax. And I was also getting to the good parts of the book, so these intrusive thoughts felt contradictory to what I actually felt/perceived. I guess this is what I can expect though with hearing voices. It might fight you, but you have to press on with what you want to do.

After I finished reading only 24 pages (compared to the 30+ pages I’ve read the previous nights), I tried putting on my headset and listening to a sleep meditation. That was relaxing. Though, I did have to take off my headset and turn off the tablet after I was finished. I feel like ideally, I would just fall straight asleep. I thought about how nice it would be to have headphones you could sleep in, and you could call them sleepphones. (Turns out, they already exist! 😂) Even though I felt a little bit of tiredness, I still didn’t fall asleep for another hour or so.

Next time, I’m thinking about reading first, then watching Running Man, then reading again. So, maybe I could read one chapter. Then, take a break. Then, continue reading another chapter. I’d try to read close to 15 pages on the first go, so just in case I feel too distracted, I would only have 5 pages left the second time.

I could experiment with white noise after my sleep meditation. I haven’t used white noise since probably May. After that, I started using my window air conditioner, and that became my white noise. And then even when I didn’t use my air conditioner, I kind of forgot about using white noise and seemed to be doing okay without it. But, white noise can be relaxing. It can help you to focus on something soothing rather than being distracted by your wandering mind.

I struggle with setting a later bedtime in the evening with a lack of activities, which is why I’m trying my best to plan activities that feel relaxing or calming. It wasn’t always like that. I could just sit and do nothing before and stay up until I was tired enough to go to sleep. But with hearing voices, sometimes I get this uncomfortable feeling and the voice gets me to hyperfocus on it, that I just want to do anything to get rid of the feeling, which is usually to lie down right away and focus on keeping my eyes closed. It might help me to relax a little more, but it doesn’t help me to go to sleep right away.

Before, I used to go for walks sometimes in the evenings, for half an hour or longer. And, I used to play games on my phone. I shifted my walks to afternoons now that the weather is colder. I like to walk when it’s still sunny out. Also, I don’t play games as much because it’s not something I want to do in the long-term. If I were playing games with other people or maybe live streaming, it’d be different. But, I don’t really socialize while playing games on my phone. I’d rather watch Running Man, because at least then, I’m passively learning another language. I used to also watch some TV (the news and game shows). I still do, but not as much. I guess I want to be more intentional about what I’m consuming, which is partially why I decided to read books every day.

I was reading about this method for improving the amount of time you are asleep in bed. The target goal is to be asleep for 90% of the time. I would say right now, I’m only asleep for at the most 50% of the time. I was in bed for 11 1/2 hours last night. So, I was asleep for a total of 5 3/4 hours. If I were to be asleep for 90% of the time based on how much sleep I’m actually getting, I’d have to be in bed for close to 6 1/2 hours before the time I want to get up.

Wow, that observation is actually very eye-opening for me. Basically if I want to wake up at 9 AM, I’d have to be in bed by 2:30 AM (and not earlier than that). Well, that’s going to prove very difficult for me to adjust to with my difficulties of hearing voices. So, I’m just going to have to focus on increasing the amount of time I spend on my evening activities and try to get to the point where I’m going to sleep when I’m sleepy and fall asleep right away.

I’ve also heard that you should only go to bed when you’re ready to sleep. I sometimes read in bed, but mostly just out of convenience so I can put my tablet on the nightstand without having to get up. But, I’m going to try to limit my screen time to the living room. The only exception will be when I’m listening to a sleep meditation. I’ll do that in bed. But, I won’t be looking at a screen then. And, the meditation would be to aid my sleep.

I also was thinking about switching the device/location for watching Running Man and reading. Instead of using a tablet downstairs in the living room, maybe I could just use my desktop computer in the office room. I just installed f.lux just in case. It’s a free software for Mac OS that adjusts your screen’s level of blue light based on the time of day (daytime, sunset, and bedtime).

Since I’m still trying to get into the rhythm of my new evening activities, it’s still too early to tell how much of an effect they’re having on my sleep. And ideally, I would read after watching Running Man because from what I’ve read, watching a show is more stimulating than reading a book. But, I want to be able to stick to my 30-day reading goal. I don’t want to shorten the amount of pages. I don’t want to allow the voice influence me in a way that I wouldn’t act otherwise (skipping reading for the sake of just feeling comfortable). So, I have to find a way to stick to my new habit. The long-term goal is to be a daily book reader.

To be honest, the only reason I’m watching Running Man is to fill the time. And, I find Running Man to be a more thoughtful use of my time than just playing games. I did think about maybe trying a language learning app such as Memrise. Though, I don’t know how much time I could spend on it without wanting to take a break. Usually, I can sit through a whole episode of Running Man. Well, at least in the day. I’m still experimenting with the evening time.

I’ll try adjusting my evening activities with the tweaks I’ve suggested in this post. I’ll continue researching ways it in which other people fall asleep quickly. I’ll look into other people’s evening routines as well.

Prior to my 30-day challenge of reading 20 pages of books per day, I wasn’t really focused on my sleep. But 3 days into the challenge, I couldn’t help but notice how my quality and quantity of sleep have truly suffered. It’s not because I’m reading, but because of how I’ve been doing things differently lately. I’ve been sleeping a little earlier than usual, somewhat affected by mother sleeping earlier, and so I thought, “Hey, I might as well too.” And another being that I have been spending a lot less time playing games on my phone in the evenings and thus just having a lot more spare time in general.

What I noticed is that even if I feel a little tired from after reading, I still don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes. I usually take another hour or so before I fall asleep. It’s probably just too early to fall asleep in most cases. So, I have to think of either more activities or increase the time I’m spending on current activities.

If I were falling asleep right away at 9 PM, it wouldn’t be a big deal to wake up at say 3:30 AM. Sure, it is extremely early in the morning, but maybe 6 1/2 hours is adequate enough sleep for me. I could start off the day lightly, maybe meditating in the living room. It’s somewhat inconvenient because of how my house is set up and where everyone sleeps. I’d have to set up things differently depending on what activities I would like to do. For example, if I want to do light exercise in the morning, I’d either have to suck it up and just exercise in my pajamas, or find another place to access my workout clothes while others are sleeping. But basically, I don’t even think about getting up at 3 AM because it takes me more than an hour to fall asleep, I wake up at least once before 3 AM before falling asleep again, and so I just don’t think it’s enough of a quantity to stay asleep to justify getting up.

However, some articles I’ve read suggest getting up temporarily. You could read for half an hour or so for example with dim lights and then try to fall back asleep after that, when you might be feeling a little more tired. I am considering this suggestion. My default activities will either be to read one or two chapters of the current book I’m reading, or to listen specifically to a sleep meditation of 15-30 minutes. I could set my headset near my phone the evening before just in case I find myself in this situation. Usually, my headset is upstairs near my computer, where I mostly use it during the day.

People have suggested to me sleeping later in the night. It makes sense. If you’re not sleepy, why force yourself to lay awake in bed? I just have to find activities to do that will keep me up beyond a certain time.

My current schedule goes something like this. I cook/prepare dinner at 6 PM and usually eat before 7 PM. I spend half an hour watching TV or playing games / engaging in social media on my phone. Then, I brush my teeth and take a shower. I journal. Then, I read. Usually by the time I finish, it’s somewhere between 9 PM – 9:30 PM. I’m not particularly tired by the time. I just resort to going to bed out of convenience.

So instead, maybe I could try this. I’ve thought about watching Running Man in the evenings. I just didn’t want it to keep my mind active late at night. So instead of reading right away, I could watch Running Man first. And then after, I could read. And lastly, I could listen to a sleep meditation. The typical Running Man episode lasts at most 1 1/2 hours. I’ve been reading around an hour each evening so far. And, I’d probably listen to a sleep meditation that is 15-30 minutes long. So, that’d keep me set up until 10:45 PM – 11 PM. To be honest, I might have to stay up even later than that. But, that’s definitely a start.

These days, I manage to get out of bed by 11 AM. That’s quite late. It didn’t really bother me before because I had no real need to wake up early. It’s not like I have a 9-5 job that I have to get to. And, I don’t really do anything quite profound in the mornings. But when you go to bed at 9 PM and you only manage to get yourself out of bed 14 hours later, you start to question things…

One thing I’m glad about is that I no longer nap in the day. I also don’t consume caffeine on a daily basis. Actually, I haven’t had caffeine since the beginning of the pandemic pretty much. I would try coffee or tea once in a while when going out with friends, but I haven’t done that in a long time. So, I know midday naps and caffeine are not contributing to my problems with sleep at night.

I think the main reason I want to improve my sleep is to wake up feeling refreshed. And, I want to improve my energy levels throughout the day. I want to naturally feel sleepy before bedtime and not have to toss and turn for hours. It’d be nice to wake up early (at a reasonable time, without an alarm clock) and maybe even get creative with morning routines. Maybe I’d feel more purposeful.

The only downside to sleeping less hours and being awake more hours is that you have to figure out what you want to do with all that time. I have to be a little more creative these days with the pandemic going on. I’ve been avoiding the gym. I don’t go to friends’ houses to hang out. I’ve stopped going downtown visiting different places. So, I’m mostly trying to find indoor activities. A lot of time is spent in front of screens (computer, tablet, phone, TV).

Sometimes, I think of an activity, but don’t follow through. There could be many reasons for it. I think that’s partially why I decided to give 30-day trials a try again. I want to give myself time to try old or new activities for an extended amount of days and outweigh the pros and cons. I want to engage myself in interesting activities, not just mindless ones just to pass the time.

I guess I just have to be careful of what will happen if I don’t have any activities prepared for when I awake or before I go to sleep. Right now, I have a morning routine I follow. It’s not anything profound. It’s just the way I start my day. I usually spend a lot of time in front of the computer during the day if I don’t have anything else planned. I go for walks in the afternoon now that the weather has cooled down. I like to go when it’s still sunny out. I try to avoid getting back on the computer in the evenings, just to keep things varied I guess.

I usually eat dinner before 7 PM, but I was thinking about pushing it back to 6 PM. I don’t know if that will help with my sleep. It might. The only downside to this is that I’d have to start an evening routine of some sort earlier in the evening. Would I have enough activities to keep me up beyond 10 PM? Though, would I need to? Maybe I’d wake up at 5 AM every day and that would be enough sleep for me.

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. I am glad that I decided to pick up the habit of reading books before bed. It’s better than aimlessly playing Candy Crush. It’d be one thing if I were playing games with another person, or as a livestream. But, I just do it to pass time. Sure, it could improve your mind. But, reading could improve your mind too. Watching a show in another language can improve your mind too. And, I feel like the last two activities are more useful.

Anyway, I’m glad I decided to write this post out. I don’t know if my experiment will work out, but I’ll keep you posted in future blog posts. I hope I can continue reading in the evenings and that it affects my sleep in a positive manner. I thought about trying to read for more than an hour, but even that is more than I expected at first. I usually end up reading a couple chapters, which takes me close to an hour. And by then, I usually feel content with just reading that much. But hey, maybe I could develop into a super-reader like Warren Buffett, who I’ve heard reads up to 500 pages a day. Though, that’s how he starts his days. I just want to find a relaxing way to end my days.

So for now, I’m going to eat dinner at the same time. I’ll just try watching Running Man before reading and see how that goes. I’ll be trying the sleep meditations too most likely. So, it’ll be a combined effect I guess. We’ll see!

I usually like to wait some time before starting a 30-day challenge, or have it naturally happen (such as when I start a new habit, and then I decide I want to try it for 30 days to see what happens). The reason is because I want to make sure I set up a system for success. I don’t want to start prematurely only to fail halfway in.

Last night though, I got ahead of myself for my November 30-day challenge to read 20 pages of a book per day. It was time to wash my hair, and I thought I could air-dry it faster if I took a shower earlier in the evening. Usually before taking a shower, I play games on my phone just to keep myself occupied for an hour or so. But since I didn’t do that, I only had a few activities to engage it after the shower, such as clipping my nails, cleaning and folding laundry, and journaling. It didn’t take me long. I thought about playing games on my phone, but it just didn’t appeal to me. There wasn’t anything interesting to watch on TV. I thought about maybe watching Running Man, but wasn’t sure if that would keep my mind too active. So, I ended up borrowing my mom’s Kindle Fire and started reading some books in my library.

It was easier than I thought. I guess the text I was reading was not particularly difficult either, so that helped. There was also this neat feature where it tells you how many minutes you have left for finishing the chapter you are on based on your reading speed. So when I looked at that, I’d think, “Oh, only 20 minutes? Sure, I can read that long.” I didn’t have to read 20 pages since it technically wasn’t my first day. However, I ended up reading 37 pages in total. It took me around 65 minutes. It could be 5 minutes more or less, because I forgot to look at the time exactly when I started. Maybe next time, I’ll set a timer.

Since I hear voices, I was a little worried that the voice would act up. But, it was fine. It didn’t really bother me while I was reading. Instead, I was distracted by random thoughts while reading. So sometimes, I would have to go back and re-read the text.

I think I will read again tonight because it was so relaxing. I will also check out another book from my public library just in case I want to switch books. The current book I’m reading seems okay so far. Some parts I thought were a little uninteresting, but then later realized as I continued reading that she was trying to emphasize certain points.

In future posts about my reading challenge, I might mention the names of the books if I sign up for an affiliate program such as Amazon’s again. I didn’t want to mention any names without knowing how good it is. I can recommend a book if I find it valuable or helpful in some way, even without getting a commission. Though, it would be nice to also get something in return if someone ends up buying the book because I recommended it.

There might be some difference between reading a paperback and reading on a Kindle. I thought reading a paperback would be easier, but I think reading last night on the Kindle proved to be more convenient. Maybe it’s because of the added feature of the reading time estimator. Maybe it’s because I’m used to reading on screens. Maybe it’s because with a paperback, you need to have good lighting. Maybe it’s just the content of the book. I’m not really sure.

I was most surprised by how long I ended up reading. One factor that helped was my curiosity about what I was reading. I also didn’t have anything else that I particularly wanted to do. I felt like this was the most productive use of my time.

Some people would set aside time to read in the early mornings, but for me, it seems like a good way to wind down in the evenings. I would say last year this time, it was hard for me to concentrate on reading paperback books. The voice would talk out loud with my mouth while I was trying to read. I thought maybe it was because of the content of the book was related to hearing voices, but I’ve learned over time that the voice I hear doesn’t need to have any particular reason to do something. And I also remember when I first heard voices, I didn’t have trouble reading books. So, I would try reading every once in a while. Some days, I struggled. Other days felt better.

I thought about listening to ambient music while reading. But these days, I’m trying to focus on one task at a time. I want to make sure that I can do simple tasks without having to distract myself too much just so I don’t hear voices. In the past, I would have listened to podcasts while going for a walk for example. It’s kind of like how people listen to music or audiobooks while exercising at the gym. But these days, I just focus on the walk without any other external stimuli. I want the same to happen when I’m reading. I want to be able to focus on extracting the ideas on the page without relying on something else. I have to see how the following days go, though. Yesterday, I rated my difficulty of reading as a 2/5 (1 being easy, 5 being hard), because I could mostly focus on reading, I wasn’t distracted by hearing voices, though I was a little distracted with random thoughts. If I ever reach a 4 or a 5, I’ll consider using music as a way to help me focus.

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend starting a 30-day challenge early. I would say focus on creating a system to succeed. Figure out the exact parameters you’re going to use to determine if you failed or succeeded each day. Create a support system. Produce a helpful environment. Gather the necessary tools and resources. Set up a way to track your progress.

However in my case, I pretty much set up everything. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was whether 20 pages was too much for me since I haven’t been reading consistently. So, I considered yesterday to be a sort of test day. It ended up so much better than I thought. I will try it again tonight. If it goes well, I’ll consider yesterday to be my first official day of the 30-day trial. Though, I might continue for longer.

In case anyone else wants to join me in this challenge, I will share with you what I’m tracking each day. I have a spreadsheet with the dates on the left-hand side. Then on the top, there are columns for number of pages, minutes spent reading, minutes per page (which is a formula I’ve inputted of the minutes spent reading divided by the number of pages), the book/s I read that day, where I was when I was reading, difficulty (factors include how well I could focus, level of understanding, and level of distractions), and my mood prior to and while reading. I’m most curious about how reading might affect my mood on days when I’m not feeling particularly good. You might be curious about other aspects, so of course, track whatever you’re interested in.

In my last blog post, I mentioned how I would be doing a 30-day trial of reading every day. I first learned about 30-day trials or 30-day challenges from Steve Pavlina’s blog. He uses this method whenever he wants to try incorporating a new habit into his life. It seemed to work well for him, so I’ve tried a few 30-day challenges myself. Most of the time, it didn’t go as well as planned. But recently, I’ve been more consistent with maintaining habits, even if they’re not every day. And one time, before I restarted my blog this month, I went 30 days or so of writing a blog post every day. I didn’t do it intentionally. It just so happened that I felt inspired to write for more than a few days, and then I thought, “Hmm, what would happen if I kept this up for at least 30 days straight?” So then, I just continued writing for 30 days. It showed me that I could stick to a habit if I simplified it. So, here are some ideas I’ll be using to stick to my 30-day trial in November, which is to read 20 pages of a book per day.

1. Make it easy, especially if you’re new to this.

If you’re an expert, you might not have to do this. Some experts thrive at challenging themselves to do more. But for beginners such as myself, it’s best to stick to something that’s easy to do. For example, if you want to be physically active for 30 days, try walking for 10 minutes. If that seems too easy, you can of course increase it to however long you’d like. But the point is, make it easy for yourself. Don’t push yourself to do more if it seems challenging. I get that it’s a 30-day “challenge”, but the way I think about it is you’re trying to make change and see how that affects you. If you jump straight to a 1-hour run every morning at 5AM, and you haven’t worked out a day in your life, then you’re just going to dissuade yourself from ever trying it again in the future.

Eventually as you succeed in completing 30-day trials, you might be able to challenge yourself more. But in the beginning, it’s important that you make it easy enough for yourself to at least get through it.

Remember that you’re simply setting a minimum. You can always go above and beyond on the days you feel like it. For example, if your goal is to do 10 push-ups a day, maybe the first time you’ll do 2 sets of 5 push-ups. And then a week in, you might feel inspired to do 4 sets of 5 push-ups. But maybe the following week, you’re feeling more tired than usual. That’s okay. Just go back to doing 10 push-ups, whether they’re all at once or in sets.

If you’re not sure what to set your goal as because you don’t know how much you can do, try testing yourself one day before starting the actual trial. Personally for myself, I’ve been able to finish reading a chapter of a book whenever I would read in the evenings. I estimate that to be 15-20 pages or even longer. And then, I looked at the specific book I planned to read. If I were to read fast, I could get through a page in 30 seconds. At most, it would take a minute. So, I estimated that it would take me anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to finish reading the 20 pages. Even if it took longer than that, I doubt it’d take any longer than 30 minutes. Since I’ve successfully read for 20-30 minutes at a time in the past, I thought 20 pages was an attainable goal for me.

The other thing you can do is if you’re still not sure, plan to adjust in the beginning. If I find that I can’t focus through reading 20 pages, I could lower it to 15 pages, or even 10 pages. It will still help me build the habit of reading every day. And eventually, I can increase the amount over time, whether it’s during the 30-day trial or beyond it. With any skill, you have to practice it regularly to be able to do more of it.

Also, don’t get stuck in the idea that if you’re doing a small amount, it won’t be enough to really affect your life. For example, 10 minutes of walking per day might not seem like much. But remember, you’re building a habit. 10 minutes is better than nothing. 10 minutes a day is more than an hour a week, is 5 hours in 30 days. And if you can get to 10 minutes a day, eventually you can build that up to 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, even 60 minutes a day. It’s a stepping stone, and it helps build your momentum. Never underestimate building small habits. It’s easier to build up from there.

2. Set up a system to track your progress.

Some habits have built-in measures to track your progress. For example, if your goal is to write a blog post every day for 30 days, you can clearly see the published dates on your website. But for other habits, you may have to set up a system to measure your progress.

One easy way to do this is to create a spreadsheet. You don’t need Excel if you don’t have it. You can use Numbers on Mac, or Google spreadsheets, or any open-source program that has a spreadsheet feature. If you want to cut technology out, you could create your own handwritten chart. Stick it somewhere convenient, like your fridge for tracking eating habits for example.

The reason it’s important to track your progress is because it can help you tweak future 30-day trials, or even help you in restarting a 30-day trial in case you fail. Plus, you can see how much you’ve achieved and take note of any benefits. For example, let’s say your goal is to adopt a vegan diet for 30 days. You could note the foods you’re eating, maybe how many calories you’re consuming, whatever information seems important to you. If after one week, you give up and eat animal products again, you can look back and see what went wrong. Maybe your energy dipped, or your mood was off one day. If you keep track of it, you can try researching more into it and seeing what possible solutions could help you in the future. Maybe your body needed more carbs and you were depriving it. Or maybe, you went from eating junk foods every day to no junk foods, and that was just too drastic of a change for you. The more information you record, the easier it is to draw conclusions from it and adjust for the future.

Even if you succeed at a trial, it’s good to know how it affected you. If you set a goal to wake up at 6AM every day, you might notice that you were cranky the first few days. But eventually, you might feel relaxed. Or maybe your mood suffered throughout the entire trial. You might still want to wake up early, but without feeling upset in the morning. Then you could search on the web to see how other people deal with feeling in a bad mood in the morning. Some people might suggest taking a warm shower, or meditating with scented candles, or going for a short walk. And then, you could note these activities and see how they affect your mood.

Even if you don’t want to use a spreadsheet or a chart, you could journal, blog, or jot down a few notes each day. For example, I don’t do time-logging, but every evening I write down one thing that I did that day that I consider to be beneficial or that put me in a good mood. It helps me to see how similar some of my days are, or if one particular event stood out to me, or even inspires me to try new things each day.

Of course, you could also just track your progress mentally. But, it’s much nicer to have it written out. You can always refer back to it. And, you have more of a basis for what you’ve concluded. Plus, if you ever want to share it with others or compare it to future trials, you can.

3. Give yourself time to set up a system that will clearly define a success vs. a failure.

I’d say it’s best not to dive straight into a 30-day trial just when you think of it. It’s best to think of the nuances in the challenge. If you plan on recording YouTube videos that month, how many videos will you create, one per day? And will you upload them every day too, or give yourself time to edit? Will you just choose two you like each week and upload on a Saturday and a Tuesday? How long do the videos have to be? You have to plan out all the details ahead of time. If you dive head-first into the trial without any planning, you’ll make it more difficult for yourself. Did that day really count as a success? Without clear rules, it’s hard to tell.

For myself, I plan to read every day at 9:00 PM. I chose that specific time because I want to engage myself in some activity before going to sleep. It’s the time when I’m most likely not to be doing anything important. Also, I try to avoid sleeping too early. Sometimes when I have nothing in particular to do, I have a tendency of going to bed early. I don’t wake up any earlier, so there’s no point. I feel better if I sleep at 10:00 PM or later. So, 9:00 PM seemed like the ideal time for me.

Also, do what you set out to do. If you say you’re going to do 20 push-ups, actually do 20 push-ups. It doesn’t count if you miss even one. If you’re worried you’re going to fail, set a lower goal. Maybe 20 is a push, but 10 doesn’t feel so much of a struggle. Either way, you have to make sure you follow through all the way.

4. Allow yourself a little flexibility if needed.

Will I still consider it a success if I read in the morning instead of later in the evening? I will. I’ll take note of it, of course, as I mentioned before that it’s important to track your progress and the specific details. Maybe one day, I know I’ll be out late and will probably feel too tired to read before bed. So, I’d plan to read earlier in the day. But on normal days, I’d stick to reading at 9:00 PM. You could do that too with your goals. Let’s say you had a meeting early in the morning that got in the way of your morning walk. You could adjust to an afternoon walk. It still counts.

But, you also want to make it clear if a certain rule is important to you. For example, there’s a clear difference between eating one vegan meal a day vs. eating entirely vegan for all your meals/snacks in one day. If you have even one non-vegan candy bar throughout the day, it might be a fail for you. You can be flexible, but just make sure you can tell the difference between a clear success and a failure.

Let’s say your goal is like mine, to read every day. Maybe you’d consider it a success even if you listened to an audiobook. I certainly would, though I’d probably have to adjust my goal so that it’s something like 20 pages of reading text or 20 minutes of listening to an audiobook.

Some people don’t want to stick to just walking for exercise. They might want to try yoga one day, or a combination of push-ups, sit-ups, and squats the next day. Sometimes, it’s helpful to have some flexibility so that you can keep it interesting.

5. Build a support system and constructive environment.

I tried my best to avoid the word “motivation”, because motivation can come or go. It’s not consistent. When you’re trying to complete a 30-day challenge, it’s helpful to build an environment that perpetuates success. It’s pretty much like building a system that helps you complete the goal rather than just relying on your own limited resources.

If you want to try a vegetarian diet for example, get rid of all the meat from your fridge. It makes no sense to have any temptations. You could try to avoid it, but why exert all that extra energy? Make it easy for yourself.

If your goal is to create a digital product to sell online, you could find support groups. Join a subreddit and post any questions you have about your specific goal on there. Get feedback. Connect with any friends who have done anything similar.

For a lot of people, turning a goal into a social activity can be helpful. If you want to go to the gym for thirty days, you could use your guest pass to bring a friend along. Or if you want to write a blog post each day, maybe you could go to a different location to write each day (like a cafe) and invite a friend to hang out afterwards. Or if you want to take 20 photos each day, you could invite a fellow photographer friend and shoot pictures together.

If you want to work out, try taking a class that gets you in shape. Some classes come free with a gym membership, such as yoga, zumba, or pilates. If you want to practice piano, you can sign up for lessons with an instructor. That will also help give you some accountability.

Sometimes, it’s as easy as sharing your goal with the people you live with. For example, if you want to cook every day but find it hard to do alone, you can ask one of your family members to help you prep the food. You can find shared goals or habits that you can create together.

It can even be as simple as turning to social media. You never know if one of your followers or friends is working on a similar goal. I’m most likely going to share my goal on Instagram. Since my goal is to read every day, I already asked them what their favorite books are to get some idea of what I could read. On my next story, I’m probably going to ask if any of them read every day. And if they do, I could ask them for advice, or just check-in with them every day as I’m doing the challenge.

These are just a few ideas in how you can build support systems and a constructive environment. You can be creative with this. Ideally, you’d set this up prior to executing the actual 30-day challenge. If you have any motivation before starting your trial, use it to build up a good system to help keep your momentum going.

These are the ideas I’m going to implement in my November 30-day trial of reading 20 pages a day. Writing this post out even gave me some new ideas of what to do to make it successful. Right after this blog post, I’m setting up a spreadsheet for tracking my progress.

Maybe in a future blog post, I will talk about how I set up my 30-day challenge. Some people find it helpful to read an example of a 30-day trial to set up their own. Plus, I can use it for myself to see if I actually follow through or need to make adjustments in the future.

It’s been a year or so since I’ve read an entire book, front to back. Sometimes, I get bored a quarter of the way through and leave the book on the shelf with the bookmark dangling. To be honest, I haven’t really been buying books or checking them out from the library for years. If I’ve read any books in the past three years, it’s because these are books that are already in my house.

The last book I finished was just because I would read a few pages every night before going to sleep. It was a way to keep my mind occupied (and off the voices I hear). Also, it was about hearing voices, so I thought maybe I would get some benefit out of it. Before that, the last book I finished was in 2018. So basically, at the rate I’ve been going for the past few years, I finish one book per year.

Recently, I came to realize that the Free Library (Philadelphia’s public library) offers eBooks and audiobooks for even some newly released books. So instead of worrying about wasting a few dollars on a book that I might not even finish, I tried searching for books I thought about reading but never came around to. I was curious about Michelle Obama’s Becoming. It ended up being available through the Free Library’s website. I just logged in with my library card number and PIN, searched for “Michelle Obama” under “Author” through their catalog while checking off eBook and audiobook, and I saw a few hundred eBook copies being available. The audiobook was checked out, so I just checked out the eBook. They give you options for how to view the book. So if you don’t have a Kindle reader on your device, you can also view the book through the browser.

As the title of my blog post suggests, I thought about doing a 30-day trial of reading 20 pages a day. I chose 20 pages because I wanted to choose a number that would allow me to finish reading Becoming by the end of the month. I believe when I checked on Kindle, it was a little over 420 pages. So, I’d be finished in 22 days. And, I don’t have to stick to just 20 pages a day. I could read more if I’m interested. I prefer to finish sections of books, or chapters. I don’t like cutting in the middle of text, so I would probably round up to the nearest end of the section or chapter.

I don’t normally read eBooks. I am used to reading paperbacks. I also don’t have a Kindle device of my own. My mother has a tablet, but sometimes she uses it in the evenings. For this challenge, I’m thinking about reading in the evenings. I usually have activities that I do throughout the day. In the evenings, I don’t have much to do. So, it would give me something to do during those times. I downloaded a Kindle reader on my computer so that I can use it in the evenings. I usually don’t get on my computer after dinner, but I thought I’d try to see how this habit goes for me. Maybe it could be relaxing. And if it goes really well, maybe I could buy a Kindle device specifically for reading in the evenings. I’ve seen some devices where the lighting is very similar to a paperback book.

I’m not going to rush into this 30-day trial. I thought about starting it in November. Maybe I could even ease into, by reading just 5 pages a day, then 10 pages, then 15, and then finally 20 on November 1st.

November is the month when some people participate in NaNoWriMo, an event in which you finish writing a first draft of a fictional novel of 50,000 words or more by the end of the month. I tried to participate in the past, but never successfully. I’ve been having trouble creating over the past few years since taking medication and hearing voices, so instead of focusing on output (writing), I’ll try to focus on being more selective with my input (what I’m reading, watching, etc.). Maybe that will help me later with expressing thoughts or ideas. Some people say that you should just focus on creating, but I think of what we learn in physics. What we put in, we get out. Consuming is just a part of the process in creating. No need to dismiss consumption. I think it’s more about what we choose to consume.

The reason I want to try to create a habit of reading more is to gain more knowledge. I want to learn new ideas. I want to see if there’s something I could do differently than what I’m currently doing that will benefit me in some way. I want to also be more conscious about what I’m consuming. These days, I tend to watch a lot of YouTube and Running Man (a Korean variety show). If I was more intentional about watching Running Man, I could improve my Korean language skills. But usually, I’m just watching it for entertainment. But with reading, I feel like I try to choose topics that not only interest me, but that I can learn more about. Even with fictional stories, I feel like I’m learning more. It can teach you more about a certain period of history, or give you new ideas about concepts of future technology. You can learn from videos too, but honestly lately, I’ve just been watching prank videos or cute baby/animal videos.

20 pages a day isn’t much. It’d probably take me 15 minutes, at most 30 minutes a day. I’ll still probably end up watching YouTube videos and Running Man. But, even a small habit can make a difference. Maybe later, when COVID-19 subsides and I go to travel different places, I will feel more drawn to reading on my off time. Right now, I like the idea of reading more, but I don’t actually practice it. I think starting is the hardest part. It’s like exercise. It can be hard especially if you haven’t done it in a while. But if you practice it more, it becomes second-nature.

Assuming that the average book I’ll read will be 300 pages in length, if I read at a pace of 20 pages per day, it’ll amount to 15 days per book. That’s about 2 books per month or 24 books per year. That’s 2400% of the 1 book I’ve been reading per year. I wonder how much more knowledgeable I’ll be. I wonder if I’ll become more creative. Who knows.

To be honest, doing just a 30-day trial wouldn’t be enough to make sense of all the benefits. I feel like a year-long challenge would be much more sufficient. But honestly, I have trouble keeping long-term habits if I don’t have a system set up. I have trouble building these systems most of the time. So, I give up pretty easily. Right now, my system is to download books into my Kindle reader on my computer and to read every evening. But what if some event gets in the way? What if my parents want me to go with them somewhere one evening? Or what if I’m feeling especially tired? Or what if I just have trouble getting through the 20 pages? Should I make it easier on myself, maybe settling for just 10 pages on those off days?

Thinking about this now, I could set a goal to read at a specific time each evening. I probably will settle for 9:00 PM because this is usually the time after I have completed all my evening activities. I’m usually doing nothing particularly important at this time. And if I happen to be out late that evening, I will set a goal of reading right after changing into my pajamas and brushing my teeth. I highly doubt I’ll be out past that time, and I want to make sure that it’s not too late so that I don’t read at all.

What happens if halfway through reading the book, I realize that I don’t want to finish it? I’ll make sure that I have another option available of what to read. I’ll also try to give each book a chance. I’ll read at least 100 pages (5 days worth of reading) before I turn to another book. At least with that much read, I’ll know if it’s worth reading or not. And, I’ll have read enough to know whether or not I’d recommend it to someone else. I think 100 pages is definitely sufficient enough for telling whether a book is worth reading or not.

Looking back, I feel like this habit would have been nice to build in high school, or even back in elementary school. I used to love reading picture books when I was in elementary school. And then eventually, I upgraded to chapter books without pictures, but mostly fiction. But in elementary school, we didn’t read many books. There was one specific time I remember we had a reading competition, with each book color-coded to define the level of difficulty. And then in middle school, we’d get out summer reading, and I’d get bored reading less than a quarter way through some of these books. If I had the habit of reading 20 pages a day, I’d get through all the books in a timely matter and would feel more disciplined I guess. Like even if I don’t enjoy a particular book and it’s required reading, I’d still be able to get through it and discuss it in class.

However, it’s never too late to build the habit. I could read the books that my friends recommend for example, and even if I never finish it, I could still say, “I read 100 pages of it, but just couldn’t get into it.” And I’d have my clearly defined reasons for not enjoying it. And even if I don’t like it, but someone else does, it’d give me more perspective of what the other person’s interests are. For example, years ago, someone told me about this fiction book. It’s about a teen girl with schizophrenia who is hospitalized, hear voices, and has self-harming tendencies. She thought it’d be of interest to me because I also hear voices. I don’t know how far I got, but I read maybe ten chapters or so and stopped reading it. I didn’t feel like I could really relate to the character, and I wasn’t too into the storyline. But, I could see why the person who recommended it to me would read that book. It’s her life’s work and it helps her to understand people who are going through similar experiences. For me, it’s not particularly useful.

I got a few recommendations of books to read on my side Instagram. Some are books that were recommended readings in high school. Maybe I’ll keep those books in mind. A lot of people recommended fiction books. It’s been a while since I’ve read fiction. Well, aside from the one book about the teen with schizophrenia. It was in college when I started to lean more toward non-fiction, especially about personal development.

I guess these days, I’m interested in autobiographies of some sort. For example, the reason I wanted to read Michelle Obama’s book is because I was interested to learn about what led her to be the person that she is, and see if there’s anything that I could take away from it. It doesn’t even have to be an autobiography per se, but as long as it’s non-fiction and it includes stories about their life, it interests me especially if it’s a person that has a trait that I strive to have. For example, I’ve read books by Steve Pavlina and Gene Simmons. I’ve read Steve’s blog before and have read so many posts of his that I thought I’d surely learn more if I read his own published book. And with Gene Simmons, I just remember reading a few pages in the bookstore and automatically feeling hooked. I read both of these books front to back. So, I think I’ll finish Michelle’s book if I succeed at the 30-day trial.

If anyone wants to join me in the 30-day trial of reading X amount of pages per day in the month of November, feel free! We can encourage each other and share tips. We can even share what we’re reading. I’ll see if I can add a contact page on here so that anyone can reach out to me. I’m also active on Instagram, though it just depends if I see your DM (I get a lot).