Part 1 of this topic, “Winning the mind game,” addressed why and how we can get started towards reading more.

Now we want to look at the practical steps we can take to help us.

This was my biggest obstacle. How, when and where was I going to find the time to read? There’s only one way…

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Part 2 – Getting practical…


Once we’ve made the mind change, we’re ready to crack on and deal with the practical stuff. We’ve decided to read; now we need to figure out how.

In my view, and in my experience, this is the crucial step.

It makes the difference between joining the swollen ranks of the well-intentioned and actually making the change.

Here’s what worked for me…

– Pick an area of interest – we’ve already established (I hope!) that we don’t know it all. Equally, we need to accept that we never will. This is not the goal. The goal is to know more. We want to think more incisively, to analyse better and practice more reflectively and intelligently. I found that it was a good idea to focus on one area of interest. Having this clear aim made the overall plan more realistic and manageable. It suddenly felt do-able. Start with one subject area or specialism and concentrate your efforts there. You can always change it later…

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– Carve out time to add knowledge – now comes the tough bit: where, when and how am I going to read? Great questions! Like me, your schedule is probably pretty crammed. So there’s no room for squeezing in time to read at work. Well, maybe not. But that’s what I did. I decided to arrive at work a half hour earlier than I needed to, so that I could read. Find a quiet spot, shut the door and read. But whatever you do:

– Don’t open your emails

– Don’t answer the phone

– Don’t do any “quick things” just before you start to read

These will deflect you and eat into your time. You’ll just end up working your usual day plus half an hour – not the idea at all! Stop at MacDonalds, go to the local supermarket cafe, do whatever works for you. I have a mate who sits in his car in a lay-by near to the office, does his reading there and then goes into work. Brilliant!

– Create good habits – once you find a formula, make it a habit. Plan for it, diarise it, embed it in your schedule. This comes only through repetition. I found that once I got reading, I loved it. The added value I derived from it was more than worth the effort. Whilst therehave been times when I’ve read less, I’ve soon regretted it and got back on the wagon.

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Final thoughts…

My way may work for you. It may not. That really doesn’t matter. What matters is that we are working with people and our judgments make a difference to their lives. We need to be on our metal. We need to “know our stuff!”

What better way than reading?

Lastly, not everyone will find this easy. I certainly didn’t; at least at first. And not everyone will want to read about work-related topics.

My feeling is, though, that working with troubled young people puts an onus on us to be reflective, to question our practice, to improve our knowledge base and to take responsibility for our own learning.

One thing I’m sure of: no-one else will do it for us…

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What do you think?…

– How are you getting on with reading to improve your practice? 

– What’s hindered or helped you in your quest to read more?…

Please let me know what your thoughts are… Leave a comment below or click here.

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Related posts…

– How to read when you’re busy: Part 1 – Winning the mind game…

– Reflection: why we need it…

– Risk assessment – 3 essentials…

– What everyone should know about childhood brain injury…

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© Jonny Matthew 2014