When You Don’t Have Time

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“No one reads anymore.”

Do you know how many times I have heard that? Articles, people ranting on social media. Everywhere you look someone else is making the claim that no one reads anymore.

But I do.

I’ve read nearly forty books this year, everything from classic literature to mythology to YA and children’s books. If you jump on Goodreads you’ll find people who have doubled that score. (Or tripled it. You guys are awesome. Please teach me.)

People still read. Just not as much as we used to.

And you know what? I get it. We all have jobs. We all have responsibilities. We all have people depending on us, schedules to juggle, deadlines to meet. We all have relationships to maintain, and, yes, we all do need to socialize at some point or another. (Only not really.)

So how, in the name of all sanity, do we manage to fit reading into all of this business?

I have no idea.

Ha! I’m kidding. I read forty books this year, remember? So here are a few of my tips for making time to read.

1) Make it a priority

Okay, not your main priority. Your kids still have to get fed and your boss will probably fire you if you don’t show up to work on Monday. Even if you tell him you were reading a really good book. But do you really need to binge watch that show on Netflix? Or spend that extra half an hour on Pinterest and Facebook? It’s so easy to waste time on social media and not even notice we’re doing it. Could you be reading a few pages during your lunch break instead of refreshing Twitter for the eighth time? (I am totally guilty of this.)

2) Lower your expectations.

How many times have you heard that in a motivational post?

Hopefully not many.

But seriously, don’t put pressure on yourself to read thirty chapters every time you sit down. When I was a teenager, I used to binge read books. I would sit down with a new book and finish it in one sitting, reading for six or seven hours straight.

I was crazy.

I also can’t do that anymore, except on the occasional weekend when I should probably be socializing and letting my friends know I haven’t died out quite yet. I don’t have the time or the focus anymore. I get distracted with this task or that one, and I forget to pick up the book again until it’s too late. So now, I employ the best aid to an adult reader on a tight schedule.

The bookmark.

Instead of reading ten chapters or finishing a book in two days, read a chapter. Read three pages. Read one page. Pick your book up before you head to work in the morning, or read on the bus, or on your lunch break. (Talk to your coworkers too, though. I don’t want them mad at me for ruining your social habits.)

The point is, it is okay to take a month to read a book if that’s what it takes.

3) Read for ten minutes

Ten minutes is nothing. I take longer than ten minutes to shower. Ten minutes before you go to bed will not ruin your night’s sleep, I promise. (Unless you get sucked into the book and read until 1 AM. In which case, I am very sorry.) Set a timer if you have to, or wake up ten minutes earlier than usual and read in bed before you get up. It seems like nothing, but ten minutes of reading every day will have you plowing through books. Especially if you never picked them up otherwise. Really. Take ten minutes.

4) Keep your book where you will see it

Beside your bed. On your kitchen table. On the counter. Beside your couch. Somewhere it’s easily accessible and within your sightline. If you put it back on your bookshelf while you’re not reading it, I can guarantee you will forget. And when you have ten minutes to spare, you will reach for your phone instead.

5) Bring your book with you

I always bring a book with me. When I go to work, when I’m running errands, to the dentist, the doctor. So much of our time is spent waiting. Waiting in line, waiting for the bus, waiting for someone who is late. Why not have a book to read while you wait, instead of scrolling through Facebook and glancing at the clock every five minutes?

Well, there you are. My tips for fitting more reading into an already busy life. Anyone else have things that they do to snatch time for a couple of pages? I’d love to hear from you!

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