If you are taking the time to read this, you are likely already a reader, interested in reading, or have the desire to spend more quality time with your books. The desire to read and find time to read is something many of us struggle with constantly. Personally, I know that I fluctuate between these stages weekly, sometimes daily. But I also know that when I don’t read, my day doesn’t feel complete and I end up missing it and feeling more stressed out about other aspects of my day.
After working all day, and struggling to find time to read myself, I feel like I finally have a few tips and tricks I have learned that have transformed my reading life.
Turn off the TV: The television is the biggest drainer of your day. I know that it is gripping and an easy release, but a 20 minute episode is a huge difference from the 2-3 hours that you might spend. Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of shows I love to watch and movies are a regular in my household, but they become reserved for the weekends or the occasional weeknight. When we stopped watching hours of TV every night, we were able to read and focus on other areas of our life that we felt like we weren’t getting to before.
Turn off your phone: Go radio silent. Don’t sit down to read and then spend the next 20-60 minutes scrolling through all your social media. This is not helping you get to where you want to be. I understand that sometimes we need to be by our phones, whether to hear back from someone or just in case, but they can end up being our biggest distractions.
Always carry a book or e-read: Sometimes the ability to carry a physical book is a challenge. We don’t want our bags to be too heavy or we don’t think we will have time to read it. But I promise you, if you get used to having it around, you might be more likely to pull it out when you have a few minutes of downtime. I always carry a physical book with me when I am going to doctor’s appointments or car rides – even on hikes. I just know that I might find a few moments where I can escape into my book.
Now, when I don’t have the space to carry the physical books or I am already packed to the brim, I can carry my kindle. BUT, you do not have to buy a Kindle to download the Kindle app. I have the app on my phone. I always have my phone with me and now I know that I always have a book with me. It did take me a bit to get used to, but now having the app on my phone allows me to read when I get ten minutes to myself at lunch, or when there is an awkward amount of time between one activity and the next that leaves you waiting. Plus, the Kindle library and Amazon Prime have tons of free books that you can download (which helps save your budget) and books that are relatively cheap to download. Another advantage of the e-reader format, they remember where you are at in the book if you switch between devices.
Make it a part of your day: This is where people get stuck. We can have stacks of books, we can download the app, but sometimes we also just need to find the actual time. When I am feeling particularly stressed or feel like I haven’t been able to read for a while, I go home with the intention to sit down and read. I don’t do anything else except read.
If that doesn’t work for you, if you feel like you should be doing something else during that time, schedule it in. Get out your planner, set a timer, do whatever you have to do and make it a priority. Even if it is only 20 minutes of reading time, that twenty minutes can give you the release you need and allow you to settle in.
Read before bed: This is when I get the most reading done. I read before I go to bed every night – even if we just watched a 3 hour movie and it is way past my bedtime! I crack a book, read a few pages (or 50) and settle down from my day. When I don’t read before bed, I find my brain is just too wired to fall asleep and I end up staying anxious and sleeping poorly. Some people struggle with this and say they get tired right away but that is fine. Even 2 pages is reading and something to be proud of.
Set reading goals: I know when I started reading heavily again, I set a goal to read 20 books in one year. I used Goodreads (a website and an app on my phone) to help me track what I was reading. This is a social media platform, but I really just use it for my personal reading habits. When I finished a book, I was always excited to see my goal get closer and closer. This worked for me, but I also have kept paper lists and other sorts of trackers (tons on Pinterest) that are fun, too.
This is my most important piece of advice… find a book YOU want to read. We all get recommendations and must reads from friends or social media, but if you aren’t interested in a book or don’t want to read it, you won’t. Even when I am determined to read a book that someone told me to, I find myself staring at it or walking past it, or finding other things to do until I admit that I need something else. There are always times that we really want to read a book, but at that moment it just isn’t grabbing us and that is okay too. Find one that fits your needs and wants when you want to read it.
Have fun and happy reading!