How to Find More Time to Read: Part One

How to Find More Time to ReadOne of the questions I get asked more than any other is “How do you read so much?”

Two main reasons: I read fast, and it’s a priority for me. I can’t help you with reading speed, but I can share about some of the prioritization choices I’ve made, and how that works out in my day-to-day life.

Make it a priority.

Everyone has the same number of hours in a day, and if you want to read more you may have to choose reading over other things you also enjoy.

  • I like television. I love reading, so generally books win over the tv.
  • I like movies. But not as much as reading, and I watch only a handful of movies a year.
  • I love doing needlepoint. I haven’t touched that since I had children – I had to make some hard choices about what I could do in the time available to me after becoming a mom, and virtually everything optional got put aside, except for reading and blogging.

Nothing is wrong with tv or movies or other hobbies, but I prioritize my reading time more. Have you seen any of those posts where people talk about what they don’t do? I could write an epic one, my “I don’t do that” list is so long. Reading time has to come from somewhere.

So you’ve decided that reading more is more important to you than other ways you could spend your time. What then?

Make it part of your daily routine.

Eating breakfast? That’s my favorite time to start reading my Bible.

Before bed? That’s a great chance to knock off a chapter or two of my latest nonfiction book (preferably one that won’t get me caught up in the story too much and make it impossible to put it down on time).

Make it a habit, and you’ll be surprised how many books you can get through without consciously working at it.

I find if it’s not part of my regular routine, it’s easy to let days and weeks or even months go by without doing something. Once something is part of my daily routine I don’t have to think about whether or not I’ve done it today; of course I have, right when I always do.

No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.
– Confucius

Need help finding motivation for reading more?
  • Set a goal
    It may seem obvious, but if you want to read more, it often helps to set a specific goal for how much time or how many books you want to read.

    Goodreads makes it incredibly easy to keep track of the books you read, and it also allows you to set yearly reading goals. Their goal tracker even monitors your progress to let you know if you’re on track to meet your goal! And if you need to change your goal for any reason, it’s easy to modify it.

  • Join a book club
    If you still have trouble finding time to read, a little outside motivation might help. The deadline of a club meeting might be all the encouragement you need to read more (or just read something you wouldn’t ordinarily).

    I’ve been a member of a online book club, and am currently part of an in-person book club. There are advantages and disadvantages to both types, but don’t let your physical location or challenges finding a local group make you think a book club isn’t possible for you. There are groups of all sorts, discussing all types of books.
    If you love books and love talking about them, I encourage you to give a book group a try!

Next week I’ll talk about some more specifics to finding time to read.

How do you find time to read? Is there anything you’re spending time that you could cut back to allow more reading time?

Comments

  1. Great post! I get asked the same question, and give similar answers (though not as thorough as yours!). I thought when I became a mom that I’d have less time to read, but thanks to nursing, and being able to read one-handed with my Kindle, I now have reading time built into my day. Anything that’s really a priority has to be built into the daily schedule.

    • I was surprised at how much I was able to read with a nursing baby! Surprised and very pleased. 🙂 Had to modify the types of books I read quite a bit – I was so tired that I couldn’t read some heavier-thinking-required books and ended up with a lot of lighter fiction and nonfiction. And you’re right – a Kindle is *so* fabulous when you’ve only got one hand to use for reading.

  2. I love this post! Having a 3yo and a 10 month old, and the fact that they manage to destroy any room they are in within 5 minutes, has meant that I’ve really had to prioritize reading. I could pick up the toys or sweep the floor obsessively, and watch it all get dirty again, or I could squeeze in some reading time. So I’m trying to choose reading more often because it fills my spirit so much more.

    I just started blogging as a way to get back into the practice of writing, and have dedicated a half hour to that in the wee morning hours, but I haven’t found a way to carve out any time for the social media aspect of blogging. I’d love a post on how you manage that component while still having time to read, blog, and just do life!

    • I don’t feel like I do the social media side of things all that well – in fact your comment here just reminded me that I don’t think I’ve shared anything on the facebook page for a few days. I’d love to spend time and figure out how to get more engagement there, but realistically it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

      You may have already read this, but one of the best resources I’ve found for blogging as a small part of life is Rachel Meek’s ebook Simple Blogging. (that is an affiliate link, but you can google the title if you don’t want to use it) While I love ProBlogger’s blogging ebooks, their focus is oftentimes on people blogging as a career, and it’s not as applicable for me in this season. With Rachel’s book, it’s more along the lines of doing the best with whatever amount of blogging time you have. That resonated with me quite a bit.

      And on a totally practical note, early mornings, naptime, and/or after bedtime is when most of my blogging and related tasks happen. Except now my youngest doesn’t nap, so I’m having to figure out a new routine for us all.

  3. We have very similar strategies, apparently. 🙂 I rarely watch TV or movies. Books win, for me – and for my husband, too. Another point in favour of books for me is that movies tend to require a longer time period at a time. I am a quick reader and can read a lot in 45 minutes, but most movies would only be about halfway through at that point – or less. And I don’t like to stop a movie and then come back to it – it’s much easier to do that with a book. When my life is at a point where my time for recreational activities is limited and only comes in small instalments, I turn to books.

    Personally, I usually don’t need more motivation to read more. 🙂 Sometimes I do need more motivation to read a certain book. Which reminds me, I ought to go read the book that’s due to the library in a couple of days 🙂

    • Ha! Yes, that’s usually the kind of reading motivation I need – for specific books. Library due dates are fantastic for that. 🙂

      And I agree completely with your first paragraph.

  4. I love that quote 🙂

    I think reading begets reading ;-). When I am not doing it much, everything feels like a chore and I don’t have time. But when I’m reading I often find even more time to read. Snippets of time here and there are great for certain kinds of books.
    I also have found that while I’m not an incredibly fast reader, my speed improves the more I read. Almost always, if I have to choose between a movie and a book, though, the book wins!
    Looking forward to nursing to read even more in the coming months 😉

    • Yes, to all of it. And you are getting close to meeting that new baby, aren’t you? Seems like you were just announcing the pregnancy. Time flies when I’m not the one who is pregnant. 🙂

  5. Sheila, I’m so glad you wrote this because I’ve been wondering how you get so much reading done! You’re so right–it’s a matter of priority. The way I live, it would seem I think it’s more fun to talk about reading than to actually do it. The other thing I’m guilty of is reading reviews–I mean reading review after review after review–for so long that I run out of time to read an actual book. It’s ridiculous! But my wishlist is awesome! Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I’ve recently decided to deactivate my Facebook profile to free me up for other things (especially reading). Your suggestions will help tremendously.

    • The TL;DR version: I have no other hobbies basically. 😉

      And I understand about reading about a book, instead of actually reading the book. I’ve got a few like that, and blogging seems to make that worse.

  6. I agree with everything and recently had a similiar conversation with a young coworker who said, “how can you read if you have kids?” I don’t watch tv. I also think it’s important for my children to see me reading. I read while sitting in the playroom while they “cook” in their kitchen and bring me “bites.” Sometimes my 22 mo old will grab a book and sit next to me on the couch. It’s so sweet.

    • Yes yes yes – it’s important for my kids to see me reading.

      That is so cute about your child getting his/her own book and sitting next to you.

  7. Your comments are so true. Once I made a goal on GoodReads to read 52 books, I prioritized reading above everything. I was amazed how much time I had to read once I stopped watching so much TV!

  8. Books/reading always win out over TV/movies for me–I hardly watch them anymore. Dividing my time between reading and other hobbies is much more difficult for me because there are so many different things to do. I, too, was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to read when I nursed my sons. Now that the youngest is weaned, however, I have to get much more creative with my time. I did recently discover that being without my phone increased my book reading exponentially!

    • It is so hard to juggle time between other hobbies – there are so many things I’d like to do that I’m having to say no to right now. Someday…

      And your last sentence is a good idea – read more by having no other options available. 🙂

  9. Great suggestions and very helpful. Just recently have prioritized reading in the morning time when its quiet in my house and after my Bible reading. Ever since I started reading The Well-Educated Mind again…thanks to your review Sheila…it has helped me to stop watching the TV and really get back into reading…much to my enjoyment! Thanks for all the reviews so many are now on my wish list!!

    • That’s one of my favorite times to read books that require more concentration – it helps motivate me to get up and out of bed when I know that there’s only so much time before the kids get up and I won’t be able to focus. Thanks for your feedback. 🙂

  10. I did so well with reading when I was home on maternity leave! I hear so many of my friends with babies talking about all the trashy reality TV they watch while logging so many hours on the couch with baby — I just read and read. Now that I’m back at work nearly full time it’s quite a bit harder. I have a stack of books next to my bed but by the time I get there, I’m just ready to collapse. But I know it won’t be like this forever. (I hope!)

    • I don’t usually do well at reading in bed – too tired, and if I do start reading something I run the risk of staying up too late when I can’t stop. Cookbooks are about the only exception.

      It won’t be like that forever for you – while I’ve never been in your situation exactly, I’ve got lots of friends and relatives who have. You’re in one of the harder stretches right now as you get used to the new routine and everything. The four + months after my second was born it seems like I read very little except when I was nursing. Too tired, too scattered, too … everything. In many ways that was a harder adjustment than having my first, in part because I was expecting it with the first one.

  11. Setting up reading time every day has made such a difference in my life. I used to go months without picking up a book, but now I’m finishing one about every 2 weeks. That might be slow by some standards, but I’m just happy to be reading for pleasure again.

  12. It really bugs me when people whine about how they “like to read, but just can’t find the time.” It requires some sacrifice, just like any other worthwhile pursuit… and if it’s truly a priority, then you’ll learn to make it happen! And if you don’t make it happen, then it must not be that important to you.

    • Before I had kids I had a conversation with someone who was exclaiming over how much I read and she just didn’t have time, and she then claimed that I’d have to give up reading once I had kids – there was no way to fit that in. I tried to politely say that I disagreed, but my opinion was meaningless to her because I hadn’t lived it yet. Two kids and four years later, I was right, and if I ever ran into her again I’d be tempted to tell her so. 😉

Trackbacks

  1. […] also written three posts that discuss this – Finding More Time to Read (Part 1), Finding More Time to Read (Part 2), and Reading Multiple Books at a […]

  2. […] week I started the series on “How To Find More Time To Read” by emphasizing prioritizing reading, and finding motivation if you need […]

  3. […] This is my prime reading time, after the kids are all asleep. I just have to choose carefully lest I get sucked into a story and […]

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