Last week, I mentioned the benefits of reading and offered some suggestions for finding the right book for you. This week, it’s all about finding the time, which is a strangely appropriate plan because last week I barely had time to breathe. Here’s my best advice for getting your pages in:
Keep Your Book Handy
With the exception of the occasional formal event, I never carry a bag that isn’t big enough for a paperback or my Kindle. Or both. Usually both. You never know when you’re going to end up with some unexpected free time, and that’s a great time to get your reading in. Waiting rooms, grocery store lines, arriving somewhere early…it’s hard to realize how much wait time we tend to have unless we’re actively looking at it. I know I accumulate at least half an hour every week just waiting for someone to arrive so we can start a meeting (especially since I’m terminally early, and sometimes other people…aren’t). When I started my first “real job” in my early twenties, people in the office had such different schedules that I usually ended up going to lunch alone, and reading at lunch became a lifelong habit (unless I’m with someone else, of course). You’ll also always be prepared for the unexpected, like waiting six hours for your car to get fixed after you threw a rod halfway through a four hour drive…just as a totally (not) hypothetical example. Keep your reading material close at hand, so you never miss a chance to get in a few pages.
Try Different Formats
If your reading opportunities tend to be in shorter chunks, or you’re not sure about diving into a novel, you might consider a collection or anthology. Short story, essay, and poetry collections are perfect for bite sized reading, and help you further refine your tastes. They can also be great for discovering new authors and new interests. Some of my very favorite authors I first read in a collection. The Best American series is a real treasure trove, with collections ranging from short stories to essays to food and travel writing and beyond. I especially love the Nonrequired reading collections, because of the wide range of topics and formats.
Audiobooks are another option. Listening to a book still gives you most of the mental and emotional benefits of reading one, and can give you reading time when you need your hands or eyes (or both) for something else-like driving, for instance. My first experience with audiobooks was during a period where I was living five hours away from my family, and driving home to visit one or two weekends a month. The audiobooks made the long drives fly by, and my parents grew accustomed to seeing me sitting in my car outside their house while I waited for the end of a chapter. I don’t make many long drives anymore, but I do listen every day while going to and from work, and often even when I’m just going down the street to the grocery store. I also listen while cleaning my house, exercising, and organizing my work space. Sometimes I have one book I’m reading and another I’m listening to, and other times I go back and forth on the same book (I’m totally in love with Amazon’s Whispersync function).
Make it a Priority
If you have decided that reading more is something you want to do, then be sure to keep that desire in the front of your mind. It’s easier to find time for the things we want to do, and the things we consider important. You can set a specific time (even on my busiest days, I always read for at least half an hour before bed) or a daily goal. Try playing around with your downtime by replacing something you normally do with a little bit of reading, and see how that works for you. If you (like me) are always making to do lists, then add your reading to the list so you don’t forget, and can have the satisfaction of crossing it off as accomplished.
Any other timesaving tips? Read anything good lately? Let’s chat.