How to find time to read every day?
If there’s one resolution that I’ve been able to stick to for a few year’s now, it is my reading resolution. I have managed to read a few pages everyday for a year now. Yes, I’ve had slumps where I have struggled to finish books or even struggled to read for more than a few minutes. But I kept at it and I’m glad that I did. The one question I’m often asked is how to find time to read every day. This is a problem that I have faced as well and now I think I have gotten a hang of how to deal with it.
I’m sure there are a lot of tips and tricks already out there which help you find time to read. What I’m going to mention here are things that I personally did to finish reading more books. I’m always in awe of people who manage to read a lot and that has inspired me to read more. Making reading a regular habit has helped me through the highs and lows of life. Even during this pandemic, for the first few days of the lockdown, I struggled to wrap my head around what was happening, and I wasn’t able to read as much as I would have liked. Yet, I tried reading whatever I could and slowly I could read more and that helped me finish my Goodreads Reading Challenge for this year by the end of July!
So, here are a few things that I did:
- Set aside a fixed time to read – even if it is 5 minutes.
Yes, finding time for something requires making time for it. In order to make reading a habit, set aside a few minutes a day for it. Yes, even if it is 5 minutes. Our brains like working on a routine and making reading a part of your routine works wonders.
For me, the last few minutes before my bedtime is reading time. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and this has helped me read more. However, the duration of how early before bedtime I settle down with a book has changed, it is still a part of my routine. Even mornings are a good time to get some reading done if that works well with your daily routine. In fact, there doesn’t have to be a generally accepted right time for it. Pick a time of the day that you like and set aside a few minutes to read.
After a few days, you’ll want to pick up a book to read at that time. Habits take time to form but you can try to keep reading at the same time every day. If you are someone who lives by a to-do list or a schedule, make it a point to include reading as a part of it.
2. Read what you like
We’ve always built our reading lists based on what we are “supposed” to be reading. But please don’t do that. Yes, I love it when my fellow bibliophiles recommend books and often, I have loved what they have recommended (Thank you Soumya and Nabanita). But I’ve picked the books I read based on what I like. I read the blurb and some reviews to decide if I would like to read a certain book. And that is about it!
I haven’t loved reading a lot of classics (There I said it!) and a lot of award-winning books (Judge me all you want). And I’ve mostly steered clear of reading what I don’t like to read.
Picking what I like to read helps in making reading a regular habit. You tend to do something regularly if you enjoy it. And yes, my time is precious to me. So, I wouldn’t spend my money and time reading something that I definitely know I wouldn’t like. I do read different genres and different authors – in fact, I’m even trying to read books set in different countries! But I’m careful what I pick.
3. Pick a format that you are comfortable with
Along with picking a book that you like to read, picking a format you are comfortable with is important. I love paperbacks and grew up reading them. Even now, I mostly pick a paperback during my reading time before I go to sleep.
But then I also like reading on my Kindle. It took me a while getting used to reading on my Kindle. And occasionally I read on my phone too. And of late, audiobooks have become my best friends!
I was finding it hard to find enough time to read because my work hours were long, and I had all the household chores to deal with. That was also when Audible came to India. Before I knew it, I signed up for Audible and started listening to my first book. It was difficult in the beginning, but it became a habit! And now I don’t feel comfortable cooking if I’m not listening to an Audiobook 😀 I also listen to audiobooks when I go on walks. So pick a format that works for you.
You read about my experience of using Audible here.
4. Have a book with you always
It may happen often that you find yourself with some time to spare especially while you are waiting for someone or something. Having a book with you always definitely helps in these situations. And for the times when you can’t carry a physical book, the Kindle App on your phone should work just fine.
I’ve read while waiting in queues, while waiting for public transport, while waiting for people, and only sometimes while commuting (because motion sickness troubles me sometimes!). Yes, it is difficult to read in short bursts, but it is all about getting used to it.
5. Swap a TV series/movie for a book
While binge watching can be fun, binge reading can also be fun! I’m not against watching a TV series or a movie. I do love the occasional movie and a TV series to watch. But restrict the time spent on watching a TV series or a movie. You can watch one episode and then use the rest of the time to read. And yes, if the movie is based on a book, it is a safer bet to read the book. Because, most times the book is better than the movie! (Trust me on this one!)
6. Set a goal, but start small
You can fix a certain amount of time everyday to read or a certain number of pages every day. Setting a goal helps in making something a habit. But while you are setting goals, start small. If you haven’t been reading for a while, or are just starting to read, you can’t set a goal to finish 7 books in 7 days or you can’t set a goal of reading for 2 hours at a stretch. You must start small!
When I first got to know of the Goodreads Reading Challenge while I was in college, I set a goal of 30 books to finish in a year. While it maybe doable, at that point I had a lot of college assignments, projects and studying to do. I wasn’t able to finish even 10 books that year. This disappointed me. Even the next year I set a lofty goal and failed miserably! I think it was only in the third year of taking up a Goodreads challenge that I finally managed to complete it and that was because I set a more doable target for myself.
While we are discussing Goodreads Challenge, I set a goal to read 36 books this year- 3 books per month and I just finished my 40th book this year. Patience and persistence help!
7. Turn off those notifications
If I go back to the days of my childhood, I used to finish reading books quickly. But as I grew up and I got addicted to technology, reading for long stretches became difficult. Notifications are to be blamed!
I used to read a page or two and then there would be a notification on my phone. I’d pick it up to check and then I’d get lost in it going from one app to another and that would take forever to get off of. By the time I got back to the book, a lot of time would have gone by and I either had to go to sleep or had to get something done. My reading time was lost.
Now, I turn off all the unnecessary notifications and keep my phone away while I’m reading. This helps me concentrate better on what I’m reading and has helped me find more time to read. Even when listening to audio books, it is annoying if the flow gets interrupted multiple times because of notifications. So, you wouldn’t enjoy the experience as much as you would want to.
These are the few things that helped me find some time for reading every day. In the end it comes doing what you want to do. Little things go a long way in building habits. If I had a wish, I would definitely wish for more time to do the things I love. But I’m glad that I’ve come a long way in making reading a daily habit and making time for it.
I hope you find these tips useful. Do you have tips and tricks of your own that help you find time to read? Let me know!
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