Is Reading Work?

December 2023 (1)

by Mickey Mellen, Technical Managing Partner Green Mellen

‘Tis the Season to be busy doing year-end business planning, shopping, packing, decorating, preparing for guests to visit, and possibly setting your New Year’s resolutions.  If one of your resolutions is to read more, our December feature article is for you!

In episode 179 of The Long and The Short Of It podcast, hosts Pete and Jen argue that reading for knowledge should be considered “work”, and therefore it’s acceptable to do during the workday.

I don’t disagree, but it’s tricky. I read quite a lot, and most of it is for the benefit of our business, but I do it almost entirely outside of the typical M-F/9-5 “working hours”. For me, it comes down to a few things:

  1. I need to be available when our team and clients are to get work done. I can’t generally read through the afternoon, and then expect my team to hop on a call later in the evening.
  2. Part of it comes down to appearances. I think I’d feel like a slacker if I was kicked back in my office reading on my Kindle when one of our team walked it. Even if it was “work”, it feels more like play and would look bad.

Pete puts it this way, which sums up how I feel as well:

I still grapple with this every single day, if I have an hour in an afternoon free, I still struggle with the idea of using that to read a book because I guess that’s how society has conditioned me.


In a way, it’s similar to how I feel about golf. On one hand, it seems there are some people who golf all week long for seemingly dubious reasons (“just to get out of the office”). On the other hand, many of those types of people derive a huge number of sales out of those games of golf, so it’s more business-like than it seems.

As my role continues to shift further away from “doing” and more toward “leading/growing”, I think this is an area that I need to understand better so I can use it to the benefit of our team.

Magic Time

A related concept in the podcast episode is what Jen calls “Magic Time” — time that she specifically books on her calendar to help improve herself. It might be reading, or listening to a podcast, or going on a walk, or going to a museum.

For me, my mid-week tends to stay pretty full, but I could potentially see making some space like that on Monday or Friday. It’s a fascinating concept.

Now, I have taken things a step further and created my own podcast called, Stacking Knowledge where I chat with people about their experiences with a variety of business and self-improvement books.  It’s a fun way to find out about new topics and authors and get your reading list honed to perfection.

About the Podcast

Stacking Knowledge with Mickey Mellen

Warren Buffett reads over 400 books a year. Bill Gates takes an annual two-week vacation that is focused on reading. Mark Cuban reads for more than three hours almost every day. There is no doubt that learning from others is a fantastic way to improve yourself.

That said, there are tens of thousands of business books published every year, and it’s impossible to keep up. You read what you can, we’ll share what we can on here, and we’ll all get better in the process.  

Our own Nancy Gamble, CEO of Hire Profile did a segment with Mickey on The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande.  You can find her recent episode on Stacking Knowledge here on Apple Podcasts

About the Author

Mickey Mellen

Mickey Mellen joined forces with Ali Green to form GreenMellen back in 2009. Since then, he’s served as the Technical Director for GreenMellen, helping their clients with all manner of technical and business advice. A frequent speaker and sharer of knowledge, Mickey has also led the Atlanta-based A Brighter Web meetup since 2012. He also blogs daily on his personal website and co-hosts our Brighter Web podcast with Robert Carnes. With nearly two decades of experience using WordPress, he is an active supporter of the annual WordCamp Atlanta. He’s also a recent graduate of the altMBA program. Mickey lives in Marietta with his wife, Kelly, and their two daughters.