cloud titled, “3 seconds a day, a new way to think about your reading” floating on a bookshelf, words flashing on the screen
Books photographed by Alfons Morales:

The 3 Second a Day Fix

Untraditional mottos, wasted self-improvement books, and smiling strangers…

4 min readFeb 1, 2021


The truth is a book with < 5 words a page motivated me more than any other book I’ve read in the last 2 years. Over that time frame, I must have ordered (and half-read) a dozen of self-improvement books. Somehow though, this book and 1 other lasted longer than all of those titles — combined.

This first book is actually an inspirational journal, lined with quotes and sayings on every other page.

Every day I read it though, like a book. Except with this book, I go one page at a time, once a day…

An open journal with the quote “she lives as though all her dreams will come true” on one side and lined paper on the other
the journal

It inspired a pattern for me, this “method of reading.” One that I am now going to share with you.

Three years ago, another book came into my life. I know this, because of the forgotten paystub (I’m praying I actually cashed), stuck in one of the pages. This book, “Heart of a Buddha,” was one of the reading materials I picked up from the Buddhist temple my mom and I visited that year. You can find it here.

If you click on the link, you will see that each page also only contains a few words or sayings, just like my journal. And so I remembered. Back when I first got the book, 3 years ago, I would also read it only once or so a day — maybe twice — but I never got tired of it. Religion aside, the words were just the right dose of “wisdom” I needed day to day.

The Pattern

Like the Pomodoro time management technique, I mentioned in a previous article, both of these books don’t command too much of your attention right away. They break up reading (or writing) in manageable chunks you can digest more, or less, of whenever you want. Very different from a number of self-improvement texts or motivational biographies that use stories, spanning pages and pages, as conduits to get their point across or capture reader’s attention.

In these other books, however, there are no “chapters” to feel bad leaving off on. Their wisdom or text can be glanced at, at any time and deposit “value” into your life — immediately. Just from one page.

And, it was this quote ( ironically from one of those “traditional” self-improvement books) that got me thinking:

Maybe a better way to digest information, especially geared at helping you take action, that you need to retain and immediately use, is to “chunk” it.

Read those shorter form, “3 seconds” a day, pages. Take things more slowly, and make your reading schedule one with Clear’s “1%” of improvement a day motto in mind.

According to the APA, chunking is:

the process by which the mind divides large pieces of information into smaller units (chunks) that are easier to retain in short-term memory.

By making the information we read smaller, it can be easier to retain, and hopefully, actually use in our everyday life.

The 3 Second Effect

Each page of these “short form,” almost pocket companion books provide the equivalent comfort of a kind smile from a stranger or commiserating look from a friend in the moment of a particularly hard time. Their expressions take under 3 seconds to read and process, just like the text in these books, but still leave such a big, comforting impact in your heart.

In those 3 seconds, there is no time for your brain to react, to process, to doubt the words you are reading. In those 3 seconds, you are forced to “accept” what you are reading. To absorb the sentiment or thought before your brain can get in the way.

Even if you pick up the book for a minute in between work, or completing a task you need to get back to. The usual doubt or impatience you might probably feel picking up another book (learning, self-improvement, whatever…), simply can’t exist. Not in those 3 seconds.

And so that 1% of reading in your every day (smaller even really), can make all the difference in your overall outcome or mindset. All the difference, in your perception of the words and thoughts you are receiving from these books.

Like that one kind stranger’s expression or one comforting look from a friend, these books offer a sense of companionship, or easy motivation, almost no other “traditional” book could accomplish.




A space for learning, creativity, and discovering more ways to enjoy life ☀️