If you’ve been following the Interview with a bookworm series, you’ve noticed that almost every interviewee has responded to question “How do you find time to read” with basically the same answer: they make time.
It’s true. If you want to read, you’ll find the time. If it’s important to you, you’ll find the time. If it’s a priority to you, you’ll find the time. But that still begs the question of how you do find or make the time?
I understand that, in people’s busy, hectic lives, reading books is something that they long to do but never quite get around to doing. Because it’s relaxing, it’s leisure, and we’re so jam packed and overscheduled, we forget sometimes to fit in activities that make us relax (I could espouse the benefits of reading here and why you should find the time to do it but you can read this post instead. It’s a neat little summary of the highlights I would hit). But you should stop doing that. Instead, here are some ways to fit reading into your day (or week. I like the concept of looking at things in 168 hours rather than 24. Thanks for that tip, Laura Vanderkam, whose new book I’ll be reviewing next week on August 11 for Show Us Your Books):
- Carve out a set time. Or simply fit it in where you can. Whether it’s 15 minutes in the morning or during your lunch break at work or while you’re sitting in your car waiting for your kid’s lesson to finish or during a plane delay or even on the toilet, designate a specific time every day to read. If you can find 15 minutes to creep on Facebook or Instagram, you can find 15 minutes to read. It helps if you keep a book with you at all times so then there’s no excuse not to have it. Don’t want to lug around a book? Put the Kindle app on your phone or use the iBooks (or whatever Android equivalent) feature.
- Read the right books at the right time. If you’re reading a book that’s labor intensive, like a business how-to book or something like The Science of Interstellar, trying to do so right before bed probably isn’t the greatest choice (I mean, it might be) and it might put you to sleep before you’ve even finished half a page, leading you to believe you’ll never get any reading done. But if you read something a little lighter, you might make it through a chapter or two which will then snowball into you finishing the whole book before you know it.
- Establish a “pages read” goal. Rather than deciding you’ll read for 15 or 30 minutes, tell yourself that today you’ll read just one chapter of a book. Or 20 pages. Or set a goal for the week of 100 pages. Or whatever seems manageable. Breaking it down like that make it easier to schedule the time, especially if you write the goal down as one of your weekly goals because you make the time to achieve your goals. No weekly goals? Write it on your daily to-do list.
- Trade one TV show for a book. DVR is a magical, wonderful invention. If you’re like me and hate commercials, you’d much rather record a show and watch it later on (even if later on is precisely 5 minutes after it ends) so you can skip said commercials. Well, while you’re waiting for the show to record, read instead. It’s a super simple trade off and you still get to do both.
- Use audiobooks. I swear they’re not cheating. Plus, if you spend a lot of time in a car or on a train and get nauseous while you read (or if you’re the one doing the driving), this is a perfect way to read books without vomiting on your seatmate. They’re also great for doing household chores like laundry or cooking.
- Don’t compare your reading speed to someone else’s. I read a lot of books every month. I always have. I’m a moderately fast reader. But I’m not nearly as fast as other people. That’s totally fine. If I tried to keep up with someone else, I’d talk myself out of reading because it can be intimidating (“oh, well, I can’t keep up with her. Might as well not even try”). Instead, read at your own pace. It’s not a competitive sport.
- Read what you enjoy. If you’re trying to read books that other people tell you you’d like or books that you think you “should” be reading even if you don’t like them, you’ll a) never enjoy reading and b) never want to make the time to do it. So, read whatever you want. Because if you like what you’re reading, you’ll make sure that there’s time to read it. Bonus tip #1: don’t let anyone’s opinions on what you read make you ashamed or feel like you shouldn’t be reading those books. If they make you happy, read away. Bonus tip #2: if you don’t like a book, even if you thought you might at first, don’t be afraid to let it go and throw it in the DNF pile. Nothing will deter you more from making time to read than trying to force yourself to read a book you hate.
- Okay, this one pains me to write but I’m putting it down anyway. Admit that it’s not a priority and stop making excuses for why you can’t find the time. Almost no one will judge you for not wanting to pick up a book. If reading isn’t a priority for you and you’d rather do something else, that’s fine. It’s your time to use how you’d like. But to make excuses that there isn’t time is kind of, well, incorrect. When you say to me “OMG, how do you read 7 books a month? I barely have time to read my child’s permission slips!” and while that might be true but I see you endlessly scrolling through your phone or hear you talking about what happened on the most recent Dr. Oz, then I know you do have time. You just choose to use yours differently than I do.
The time to read is there if you want it. You just need to approach your time with a plan.
Any other tips that I missed?