Reading lists, planning and accountability

I spent my New Year’s Day with my personal scholar planner, my 2017 book list, paper and pencils.

I finished my 2017 book list, but needed to sit down and work out the nuts and bolts. How am I going to get all those books read in a year?!

I first prepared a divided a unlined sheet of paper into 12 blocks – one block for each month.

I decided to plan a quarter at a time since it’s possible I won’t make all my goals and this allows me to retool my plans before each quarter.

My books generally fall into one of two categories – long-term (over the course of the year, or several months at least) and monthly reads.

At the top of each block, I listed all my long-term books. Below these I then listed books I expect to be able to read in a month.

In my previous post, I mentioned several areas I am focusing on this year. When planning my monthly goals, I tried to include one book from Educational Philosophy, Parenting and Christian Study. I also selected two or three fiction titles and one from another area.

On paper, then I might have fifteen books listed. This sounds daunting to me, but eight are long-term reads, so I am reading just a little at a time. For example, each month I will read the corresponding chapter in The Life-giving Home, and in In Defense of Sanity, I am reading one essay a week.

My weekly bullet journal spread. I plan out daily reading portions for my current reads. I purposely leave the weekend light since I know I won’t get much reading done. I also plan the upcoming week on the weekend.

On my weekly planning pages, I list out all the books I plan to read each day, and make note of chapters or pages to work through. I only do this on a weekly basis, in case I haven’t met any of my weekly goals. Having a checklist helps me feel accomplished as I work through my daily reading goals.

For those books I am planning to finish in the month, I have planned for more intensive reading periods.

I list out my goals for the month, including books I want to complete, and how much progress I’d like to make in others. I also prepare a tracker page with day columns. Each book gets a row, and I fill in a block for each day that I read from that book.

So… why even do this? I am not a formal student anymore. I don’t have quizzes or exams, I’m not paying for courses or risking a poor grade if I don’t get my reading done. So why the planning, why the schedule, why the extra effort?

Last year, I planned out my 2016 book list, and when I fell behind in my reading schedule, I stressed.

But I persisted and even though I fell short of my reading goal, I still read A LOT more books than I would have if I had not bothered to research and put together a reading plan, plan a reading schedule and commit to regular personal study time.

I am active in an online book community and there is an awesome comradery and environment of encouragement and even a mild sense accountability.

Though honestly, there still isn’t a consequence for falling short of the goal like there would be in school.

So again, why I am doing all this?

I love the term ‘personal scholarship.’ It really sums up what I am striving for, and what is the driving force for everything I do.

December’s Reading Tracker page. Each day I read a particular book, I fill in a block. Lines indicate that a book was completed.

There are so many things I want to read about and learn and experience through books, and no one is going to hold me accountable except for me, because it is a personal goal.

By planning and scheduling, I am making a commitment, a contract with myself to work toward a goal. I want to hold myself accountable to this commitment.

If I fall short, well I reevaluate my reading goal and adjust my plans and schedules – maybe it is not realistic in light of family commitments. I reevaluate and adjust, I do not abandon. I keep the contract as a tangible “thing” that I am making myself accountable to.

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