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“Loving to read as a strategist”. Episode 11. When to read?

Today is October 18th, and we will cover the subject of when to read. For most of our strategic reflections, the content from which we will accomplish them is self-explanatory and it is included in the slides. Please download the slides, and keep them in your records. Print them and put them in a binder. It will be a reference for you someday, or for your kids, or at least, if you are the owner of a company or member of the decision-makers team; you will find useful academic support for your Board of Directors meetings. Let´s begin.

Ranita Feliz. An exercise watercolor 7 x 5 inches. NFS
Paper Fabriano Traditional White 300GSM, Painted with Holbein pigments. The objective of this exercise was to do the drawing using the grid method.
Photo source inspiration:

Time and space are usually interrelated when it comes to reading.
Little we can do when we hope to read at a time in which we can´t be situated well for reading. Little we can do when we don´t know our good schedule for our optimal reading. Additionally, there are multiple reasons for reading. We will explore them all in episode number 13th, “why to read”. But there is a difference between reading for being informed, in comparison to reading when we are studying or following a student route for learning. At the same time, there is a distinction between reading for enjoyment (because we want to read a novel or a fiction book or poetry or biography) in comparison to when we need to read because it is related to our career literacy.  Nevertheless, whatever the reason for reading, we all agree that the location in which you read affects the degree of comprehension and response to your reading efforts. In addition, time matters.  Each person holds a specific chronobiology behavior, that may or not be affected by external conditions, such as the family or the closest circle of people with whom we share our residence; our school/university schedules; our jobs timetables, etc. Also, it is influenced by your own inner-clock pattern in relation to the light-night hours during the day. All species, including humans, hold a “master clock in the brain that coordinates all the biological clocks in a living thing, keeping the clocks in sync. In vertebrate animals, the master clock is a group of about 20,000 nerve cells (neurons) that form a structure called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN. The SCN is in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus and receives direct input from the eyes (light-dark)” (1). The SCN condition affects our reading competencies. Do you know that?

There are additional factors that we will explore today, all of which affect our brain functions required for reading properly.

When to read? It is a personal decision and a personal choice.
Each person on earth has the duty to identify a preference or at least has the goal to discover when during the day (or night) it is better for them to read. In addition, each of us has the homework to comprehend if the reading frequency should be only once a day, twice, or even three times or more daily. To comprehend how we feel much better about reading is a trial-and-error mission. No one can tell you the best time to read for you unless you discover it. School and university rituals help you to identify these time-reading windows and frequencies. The frequency of our readings is another quest to explore: some people can read (away from digital news or social media), at least 15 minutes per day; meanwhile, others have established a schedule of three times a week for one hour each. Others can´t do it during the weekdays and have firmly committed to reading books only during the weekends and for several hours. Meanwhile, others have pre-established to read only during their vacations, or per season. I have met some friends that do not read in summer times (they are too busy performing sports or leisure recreational activities given the good weather), but they hibernate as bears during the winter times and read around 10 books then. Some bibliophiles read when it rains only, or meanwhile, the snow and the temperature doesn´t allow them to go out of their home.

Learning to read is to learn to writeIllustrative and non-commercial image.

Other interesting facts about time for reading books: In those places where commuting to work is long, and they can read on the train, the bus, the taxicab, or the trams; we can observe, bookworms reading methodically during the whole trajectory, twice a day (from home to work, and from work to home). Some have already taken the positive spirit to turn off their Smartphones in their mobility rides, and have gained the discipline to read from paper books because they know that the electronic gadget will cause interference with their desire to read a book.  

In summary, to answer the question, of when to read, it all differs for each of us. But it also depends on several factors that we would disclose as follows:

  1. Your Circadian Rhythm
  2. Your sleeping habits
  3. Your brain’s functional nature
  4. Your lifestyle priorities
  5. Your desire or will to do it.
  6. Your digital addiction degree
  1. Your Circadian Rhythm

Let´s begin with the most timing concept of our existence. Circadian is a word that relates to a conceptual time structure of 24 hours periodicity.  The circadian rhythm is nothing else than our daily rhythmic activity cycle, based on 24-hour intervals, that is exhibited in us, and many other organisms. Each of us has a circadian rhythm, and it is our own internal timekeeper (see slide number 11). In terms of popular classification, several authors have classified people into three chronotypes based on each of us personal pattern of circadian rhythms:

  1. Early Birds or Larks – morning-type people. Those who wake up early (before 7 am), and tend to feel energized, with higher mental performance in the morning, which vanishes early evening.
  2. Night Owls – evening type of people. Those whose sleep habits are to stay in bed usually sleep until 10 am to 11 am. Their energy level and best mental performance begin peaking late afternoon, evening, or night.
  3. Third Birds – All of the rest of the people who are somewhere in between the early birds and the night owls.

Please we invite you to read slides 13, 14, and 15. Your circadian rhythm affects directly your chronotype and in consequence your best time for performing mental tasks such as reading.  Early birds usually tend to read very early in the morning (before breakfast), or between 10 AM to 1 PM. Night-Owls will never be able to read in the mornings, but only at night. The rest of us can adjust our reading best-time schedules between the mornings and afternoons.

2. Your sleeping habits
Regardless of if you are an Early Bird, a Night-Owl or someone in between these two extremes, your sleeping habits should be congruent to at least a good repose and soothing sleep for a minimum of 8 hours per day. If this is not taking place, then we are facing a Circadian Rhythm disorder. The symptoms of a circadian rhythm disorder are insomnia or trouble sleeping, abnormal daytime sleepiness, cognitive difficulties, decreased levels of alertness, poor reading, poor job/school performance, physical sicknesses, obesity, and hormonal imbalances. Read slide number 12.

If our sleeping habits are altered, don´t expect to find any possibility to keep concentrating meanwhile reading. And that is how the perverse negative cycle against reading began with digital gadgets. When our brains felt compelled meanwhile reading, we chose to entertain ourselves with digital information coming from social media, scrolling, browsing videos, streaming with Netflix, or playing video games. Our brains continue day by day, without good sleeping time, and that is how the vicious cycle of digital addiction has not stopped since then. Probably we were excellent readers before the year 2000, but after 22 years of digital addiction, we have reversed those reading competencies, and now everyone is a poor reader: parents and digital kids too. When our brains do not recharge under good sleeping habits, the first symptom of a circadian rhythm disorder is the inability to read books.

3. Your Brain’s functional nature
Each of us has a different brain that functions according to its own nature. Since the doorway of digital addiction through smartphones, our original brain’s functional nature has been affected. If our brains do not work properly, we are unable to read properly.  According to a Harvard University researcher (2): “A number of brain regions are involved in reading and comprehension. Among them are the temporal lobe, which is responsible for phonological awareness and for decoding and discriminating sounds; Broca’s area in the frontal lobe, which governs speech production and language comprehension; and the angular and supramarginal gyrus, which link different parts of the brain so that letter shapes can be put together to form words”. It is crucial to understand how our own circadian rhythm cycle works, so we can help our brains to read better.

4. Your lifestyle priorities
Most humans, in every society on earth, have accepted that education is crucial for learning and polishing our brain competencies and capabilities. Reading is so important for our well-being and future social-economic-political history, that whenever we privilege a lifestyle in which reading is not an enjoyable and pleasant activity to exert within or without our reference groups; then we will build a lifestyle that can prescind from reading as a core backbone in our routines. If we are immersed in reference groups where the “cool activities” are to stay all day watching Instagram or Twitter or Facebook or other similar platforms, we could assume that reading a book is irrelevant, and in consequence, our lifestyle will be a mirror of it in all our interactions with others. On the contrary, those who believe that “intellectuality” comes from reading, will procure a different lifestyle, and probably will avoid connecting to social media, in order to prioritize accordingly.  Visit libraries is a pre-condition for intellectuals who can´t afford good books. Downloading e-books from the Internet might be an easier experience, but the weathering of other brain competencies will be present, including physical wastage (because of our lack of mobility and damage from digital over-exposure). In my personal case, even though I download reading material from the internet, I tend to print it, bind it, and read it on paper. I can´t keep my comprehension at Literacy 5 level if I read from digital screens.

5. Your Desire or will to practice reading.
In between our will to at least try to read, and our predisposition of not doing it, or avoiding it; many potential excellent readers are lost in the intent. To read books at elevated levels of literacy (Literacy 5 degree is held only by 1% of adults in developed economies) requires a process that can be achieved in several steps. If most of the Adult Readers in developed economies only hold up to a Literacy 3 level (80 % on average) (3), that means if we wish to jump from Literacy 3 to Literacy 5 in the next 100 years, a long process of efforts and dedication, with mastery discipline awaits us.

6. Your digital addiction degree
We already discussed digital addiction in the slides. However, it is important to be aware that there is a correlation between the number of hours that we spend on our smartphones and the lack of excellent reading experiences from books. The more you lose your time scrolling on social media platforms, video games, or zapping from digital channels; the less mental performance you will hold for reading at Literacy 5 (look at slide 19, OECD literacy levels).

We will stop here. The next chapter will be episode number 12: “What to read”. Bonus number 3 will be provided then or over the weekend.

Learning to read is to learn to writeIllustrative and non-commercial image.

Strategic Music Section.

Music Reading chill-outs

A good reader usually has been blessed with a good reading instructor or educator. The action of reading well starts with the teachers: It is an active process of “constructive meaning”, “creative thinking”, “curiosity”, “investigation mindset”, “monitoring by test-error”, “explorative joy” and “critical reasoning”.  Today we will brush a bit of the investigation mindset quality. When teachers ask themselves questions, that is the beginning of investigating. Questions such as what, when, where, when, what if, how, why, who, and many others are set on the table by the reading teachers, and let the students answer them in discussion groups.

That simple action is the beginning of the research mindset so much needed for strategic reading. It is impossible to ignite an analytical mind in pupils learning to read if teachers don´t procure the role model of exploration and scrutiny by asking questions.  The discussion of the reading, by using questions helps students to begin to ask themselves questions when they read. It takes several years to create the convention, which then becomes routine, but there is no analytical mindset without inquiry.  

Our music for reading today is another compilation from a different classical composer that I listen to when I am reading, painting, or writing. Mozart is one of my favorite ones. This musical video includes several Mozart pieces interpreted by the Moldavia Philharmonic Orchestra, the ITC Philharmonic Orchestra, the Giuseppe Verdi Orchestra, Lucia Marina Dell’Orso, EKlectic Music, Pitagora Music, and The Mozart Symphony Orchestra / All Rights Reserved. The compilation has been done by  Classical Tunes.

See you next Friday 18th of October, with the twelfth episode of the saga “Loving to read as a strategist: What to read”. Thank you for reading to me. Blessings.

“Loving to Read as a Strategist”. Illustrative and non-commercial image. Giphy source from Nazaret Escobedo

Sources of reference are utilized today.
All the references used to write today are included in each of the slides. Otherwise if found in the article, are included below.


Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY. Nevertheless, most of the pictures, images, or videos shown on this blog are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

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