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How to Make Time for Reading

28 April 2022

“Too busy” must be the most over-used phrase in the modern world. Time slips away from us as we balance hectic lifestyles and work pressures. We often feel that we can’t commit time to activities like reading.

We attempt to manage our time to reach some imaginary peak of efficiency, to achieve one goal after the next. But reading is a goalless, drifting activity which transcends to-do lists and schedules. Reading requires full immersion.

With reading, freeing up the occasional twenty minutes is not going to cut it. Reading requires more than just time - it calls for focus and a lack of interruption. But we live in a world that is full of interruptions and distractions.

So, how do we really find the time to benefit from reading? Here are ten tips to help you realistically reach your reading goals:

#1 Track your reading

Keeping track of how many books you read in a year will motivate you to pick up a book more often. Starting to read is often the hardest part. Once you have started, a good plot will suck you in and time will fly by as you eagerly turn the pages.

Each year increase your reading target. You could even encourage friends to track their reading too to increase the sense of competition.

Apps like Goodreads help you to track your reading and also offer useful book recommendations and reviews.

#2 Just a little more

Make a vow with yourself to never put a book down until you have finished the current chapter.

Perhaps start slow by finishing your current paragraph before putting a book down, then move on to commit to completing whole chapters.

#3 Read multiple books at once

Fierce advocates of the one-book-at-a-time school might cry that reading too many books at once will be confusing and mean that none of them get finished. But hear us out.

Different books and genres suit different situations. Having a few books on the go at once will help you to select the most suitable read for the situation and this will encourage you to read more.

For example, you might go for a comforting easy-read for bedtime, something more stimulating for your morning commute, and a personal development book for spaced out reading so you can implement what you have discovered over time.

#4 Borrow more books than you think you can read

The height of your to-be-read pile and a looming library deadline will increase your dedication to reading. Nothing improves your speed reading or motivation to pick up a book more than an externally-imposed deadline and possible fine.

#5 Rise above the talk

Ignore what you think you should be reading. That bestseller everyone is talking about which is not your go-to genre. The novel that is being made into a talked-about Netflix series that you have no intention of watching. The personal development book a well-meaning but wayward colleague nags you to buy.

Reading books based on your own interests will bring you much more joy and fulfilment than stumbling through a book you don’t really like just because it is fashionable.

#6 Protected time

Aim to read most days, and ensure you meet this goal by dedicating part of your everyday routine to reading. Pre-bedtime is often a great time to read because the bustle of the day is over, your mind is now free to wander, and your sleep will be more peaceful after time away from your screens.

But first thing in the morning, as you scoff down your lunch during your break, or as you commute to and from work are also great times for reading.

If reading every day is too great a commitment, protecting your Sunday mornings for relaxed reading could work well for you.

#7 At the ready

Having a book with you regularly will increase the amount of time you spend reading. Often we get sucked into doom-scrolling on our phones simply because they are at hand and we are too tired - or lazy! - to reach for another activity.

E-books can overcome the issues with lugging a giant book around, are perfect for light bursts of reading in your spare moments, and your progress can be synced across different devices.

#8 Connect

Connecting with other readers can be a great way of increasing your reading. Discussing your latest read with a friend, keeping up with the pace of a book club, or engaging with reading communities online will encourage you to read more as well as engage more deeply with what you are reading.

#9 Prioritise what you read

To make more time for reading, you might need to cut down your reading of click-bait blog posts, depressing news articles and social media posts.

Prioritise your reading time by actively choosing what you are reading, rather than falling down a hole of unstimulating, random article scanning.

#10 The sweet spot

Having a particular place where you read at home is a good way of increasing the time you spend reading and - depending where you pick - avoiding distractions. Select a quiet, comfortable spot and increase the cosiness factor by adding cushions, a throw and a soothing warm drink.