I'm about to finish my fifth book in 5 weeks (What Works in Development? edited by Bill Easterly and Jessica Cohen), in addition to reading a higher number of academic papers and the same number of RSS feeds that I usually read. There are a few good reasons for this:
1) Amazon Kindle app for iPhone: I read on the largest possible font, so there are only two or three sentences on the page at a time. The relevant unit of accomplishment is flipping this (small) page, so I can read a little or a lot and still feel like I'm getting reading done. Furthermore, with this small screen I don't skip text and backtrack nearly as much as I do when I'm reading paper. Reading on a digital screen makes me less sleepy. There also aren't any distractions, like my phone is when I'm reading a paper book.
Another nice thing about the Kindle is links within the book. I read more footnotes because you can skip easily to the footnotes and back to the main text by touching the screen. This is something that's even easier to do on the iPhone than on the Kindle.
On a side note, I've purchased books for the first time in almost two years; it's impossible to get paper copies of the books I'd like to read while I'm here.
2) No Internet at home: I've had tons of experience dealing with this one; queue up a whole bunch of tabs, print out PDFs of each page and save them to a flash drive. In addition to saving time surfing (no actual reading time,just deciding whether or not to read things later), I finish a higher percentage of my reading and I'm not as distracted because there's no information coming in, like new RSS feeds or email/text messages. Any links I open from stories I've just read get saved with a "Unable to load page" page in Chrome; the next time I get on a wireless connection these open automatically. Same goes with emails, which I compose and then sit in my outbox for days at a time.
3) More free time. Everyone says that liberal arts schools 'teach you how to think' but also stress the irrelevance of the course material. Classes are a distraction; most of the reading is stuff that isn't too helpful.
In short, I'm enjoying higher productivity now but all three of these are going to disappear once I get home; I won't read on my phone when I can get free books from the library, I struggle to shut off the Internet voluntarily and next semester I'll have thesis and job applications in addition to coursework. I'm not optimistic about maintaining this high level of productivity.
Liked what you read? I am available for hire.