I have always been a reader. When I was a young girl, I remember waking up early, eager to finish a novel before school. For most of my life, I have found solace after a hectic day by curling up with a good book before bed.
Experiencing life through someone else’s eyes in pages of a book has kept me grounded and has opened me up to new possibilities at the same time.
However, as I have gotten older and my life has gotten busier, I have had to develop some strategies for making sure I get in my reading time. Between parenting and work responsibilities and, well, all the distractions of life, I can find myself slacking off on reading if I am not careful.
Seven Tips For Making Reading Time A Priority In Your Life
If you, like me, want to make reading a priority, no matter how busy you are, here are seven tips to consider.
- Maintain a reading list. Keep yourself fully stocked with books to read and books to think about reading. I keep a running list of titles and authors that interest me from articles I have read, from online recommendations or from friends’ suggestions.
You can keep your list the old-fashioned way — like I do — in a small notebook, or you can use an online site such as Goodreads. Having your next read ready and waiting for you saves time and keeps you from becoming sidetracked.
I sometimes go on binges by genre and by author. I even did a Pulitzer Prize winner extravaganza of which I am very proud. Keep your list varied and interesting and you will not get bored.
- Be willing to say no sometimes. This one was hard for me. I used to feel that I had to finish a book even if I didn’t like it. I am over that.
I realize some books take longer to grab me than others, but if one hasn’t gotten my interest by about page 100, I give myself permission to bail on it. You should too.
- Use the library. Buying books is great – don’t get me wrong – but you can read well on a limited budget. You can use your library card to check our both print and digital books. Also, check out used book stores, thrift shops and yard sales for great book finds.
- Keep a book with you. Whether it is a paperback or your e-reader, keep your current read close for unscheduled reading opportunities, including everything from carpool lines to doctor’s waiting rooms. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the time goes by if you read while you are waiting.
- Get a reading partner. Find another person with whom you can share book recommendations and opinions. You could start a book group with like-minded friends if you like, or just team up with a friend. A reading buddy will hold you accountable if you are stuck in a reading rut and can make the whole experience more fun.
- 6. Get rid of the distractions. Devote yourself fully to your reading time. For some people, reading on an e-reader can be a disaster. If you cannot help yourself from checking your social media while reading on your device, then switch to a printed book.
Make a conscious choice to silence your phone and to get away from all the screens in your life while you read.
Also, part of the pleasure of reading is the escape it provides. Make sure your regular reading spot is well lit and comfortable.
- Set aside a time to read every day. It can be first thing in the morning along with your cup of coffee, while you have you sandwich at noon or after the kids are in bed. The point is to schedule in some reading time each day.
Establishing a reading routine makes it more difficult to procrastinate about getting started on that new novel. Also, when you make reading an enjoyable habit, you will find it easier to set aside the time.
Finally, a few don’ts to add to your list of do’s. Don’t set limits on your reading. Do not read what you think you “should read” or, worse yet, follow some pre-conceived notion about your tastes in reading that may not apply to you any longer. Maybe you didn’t like mysteries when you were 12, for instance, but when was the last time you gave one a try?
Similarly, don’t discount non-fiction books. Novels are great, but if a novel sparks your interest in a certain time period, for example, consider reading a non-fiction book that delves into the subject more deeply.
And, one more “don’t.” Don’t stick only to the best-seller lists. Turn to a classic you never got around to reading or re-read a favorite to see how you might relate differently to the characters now that you have more life experience.
With this advice in mind, consider the words of C.S. Lewis: “It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between…Every age has its own outlook. It is especially good at seeing certain truths and especially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.”