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.
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.
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.
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.