I love reading. Growing up, I read anything I could get my hands on—even the back of the cereal box, if nothing else was available. That trend has continued into my adult life too. But since becoming a mom, finding time to read has been more of a challenge. I suspect it’s the same for many of you as well. So I’ve realized that since I can’t find time to read, I need to make time to read. Because the benefits are real, man!
So, without further ado . . . here are some of the ways I make time to read—almost every single day.
Always have something to read on hand.
That’s what Rory Gilmore says, right? You can’t read if you don’t have something with you. So toss a book or your e-reader in your purse, diaper bag, or work tote. Bring a book in the car for school pickup/dropoff, to the park, and to the gym. You never know when you’ll have empty moments where you could read. And that brings me to my second tip . . .
Read on your phone.
I know this can be controversial. Some think smartphone screens are too small to read a book, but I beg to differ. I started reading books on my phone through the free Kindle app around Christmastime, and it has made a huge difference in the progress I can make in a book. You can sync your progress between various devices like your phone, tablet, and dedicated e-reader. So helpful! (And if small screens really do not work for you? Consider listening to audiobooks! They’re a great way to read while tackling minutiae—dishes, laundry, or even your commute!) But there is one problem with reading on your phone: distraction.
Stop reading random news articles online.
Something’s got to give—especially if you are easily distracted. If you are adding something (extra reading), you have to take something else away (random news articles, YouTube videos, mindless games, etc.). To help facilitate this in my life, I’ve deleted Facebook from my iPhone. Gasp! That could be an entire post in itself. But if I don’t have Facebook to scroll through on my phone, I don’t click on as many random articles/videos. Thus I read an actual book more. I still am up to date on current events. There are plenty of reputable news sites for that. But I’m seeking them out intentionally.
Step away from the Netflix.
Instead of mindlessly watching Netflix at night, episode after episode? Read a chapter of your book and watch one episode. Auto-play can be dangerous. But auto-reading? Not so bad. 🙂 I mean, what makes you feel more accomplished? Reading a whole book in a week or binge-watching a whole season of a show in a week? Yep, I thought so.
Read what you want . . . and don’t be afraid to stop reading a book.
Find the genre, author, series, etc. that speaks to you. Don’t just read bestsellers or the business/self-help book du jour. Read what is interesting to YOU. It may take some trial and error, but when you stop worrying about what you “should” read, you’ll enjoy it more (and probably get through a book faster). Personally, I love historical fiction, mystery/thrillers, and narrative nonfiction (aka “nonfiction that reads like fiction” or authors like Erik Larson or Daniel James Brown). Also, I’ve learned that it is okay to stop reading a book that I’m not interested in. It may not be the right time for it in my life, or it may not be for me. But I’m not reading for a class, and I’m an adult—so I can stop reading a so-called “boring” book without guilt. Woohoo! And on that note?
Challenge yourself with your reading.
This can take many forms. You can track your reading with pen and paper or on Goodreads (follow me for book recommendations if you want). Goodreads is great because it also allows you to participate in annual reading challenges for a numerical reading goal for the year. Modern Mrs. Darcy also has a subject/theme based challenge too. If challenges aren’t your style, then amasse more books than you can read. Check out a bunch from the library, or hit the used bookstore. A stack of books on your nightstand (or your e-reader) can be so motivating!
If you’re still saying, “I don’t have time to read . . . I have to do x, y, or z.” Consider this:
“Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” and see how that feels. Often, that’s a perfectly adequate explanation. I have time to iron my sheets, I just don’t want to. But other things are harder. Try it: “I’m not going to edit your résumé, sweetie, because it’s not a priority.” “I don’t go to the doctor because my health is not a priority.” If these phrases don’t sit well, that’s the point. Changing our language reminds us that time is a choice. If we don’t like how we’re spending an hour, we can choose differently.” – Laura Vanderkam (don’t miss her TED Talk on this very subject).
It’s all about priorities. I truly believe that we are not as busy as we think we are. So get reading!