How I Find Time to Read (or Things I Didn't Do Because I was Reading)
Every time I post books on Instagram or give reviews in my stories, I immediately get messages asking "How do you find the time to read all of these? Do you stay up all night? Do you not watch TV? Do you neglect your children?" (The answers, by the way, are: I make it a priority; sometimes; I only watch Housewives; and maybe).
I really like what podcaster Kendra Adachi says about time management: basically, if it's important to us, then we make the time for it. I often wish I found cooking or exercising more important because I can't seem to find time for those every day. Everything is a trade-off. Maybe you are really awesome at cooking three meals a day, or juicing, or going to Barre class. Maybe you are diligent about volunteering at your kid's school or maybe you work 60 hours a week.
My point is, everyone wishes they had more time for something.
In addition, we all have our own individual ways to unwind. In 2015, I was a complete workaholic and dedicated all of my waking hours to either working or stressing about work. I did not read many books that year--it was not in my mental capacity. When I needed to relax, I was zoning out to trashy reality TV shows or hanging out with friends.
In 2010, I was overwhelmed with being a mom to two toddlers and not using any of my creative energy. My downtime then was used to crochet, knit, and throw Pinterest-y kids parties. That's what I needed. So please don't use this post as a reason to feel guilty about NOT reading. You do you, friend.
Even if you do prioritize reading, it does take some work to fit in the maximum amount of time per day. Here's how I've managed to squeeze in those extra minutes:
1. I always have a book with me. I do prefer to read paper copies of books, so I try to bring a book in my bag. I also take full advantage of the Kindle app on my phone and iPad. If I have my phone, I have a book.
2. I read in the margin time. We have SO MUCH margin time, especially if you are a mom. Waiting at soccer practice, waiting in the doctors office, waiting in the carpool line....those 10-30 minute chunks can really add up. As a work-at-home mom, I can usually fit about an hour of reading into my "work day." If you are in a traditional office setting, could you read during your lunch break? Could you read for a few minutes in the morning before getting in the car? During your kids' activities in the evenings?
3. Audiobooks, audiobooks, audiobooks. I have an Audible.com membership, and I take full advantage of their syncing. I pick one book a month that I read on my Kindle and use my audible credit to purchase the same title (many books offer a discounted audio book if you bundle). This way, I can use my car time, chore time, cooking time, etc, to continue my reading and bounce back and forth seamlessly between audio and visual copies.
4. Dedicated night-time reading. Since I am such a night owl, I can typically spend at least an hour, sometimes two, reading at night. And I make this a priority. Sometimes when I am completely wiped, I will promise myself to read just 15 minutes, and this will often turn into more. Are you a early bird? Do you (gasp) wake up before your children? Could you find 15-30 minutes to read in the morning?
5. I have a constant to-read list. As I talked about in this post, I have a big shelf for collecting books and a long library hold list. I also routinely check for Kindle titles on sale. This way, I have quite a list of books ready to read. This guarantees that I don't spend too much time looking for the next book to read--which can be very time consuming in itself!
6. I'm ruthless at quitting books. I used to suffer through each and every book I started, which slowed down my reading IMMENSELY. Now, I give each book 50 pages, and ditch it if I'm not hooked. Sometimes, if it is a nonfiction that I do want to try to get through, I will scan using a ACT/SAT prep class technique--reading the headings, first sentences, and last sentences of each paragraph.
Things I Did Not Do in January Because I Was Too Busy Reading:
-cleaning out and organizing my closet
-the second season of Stranger Things
-cooking more than three times a week
-watching any TV other than a few Bravo shows
-exercising more than twice/week
-cleaning the house as much as I should
-work a full-time job (right now, I stay at home with my 2 year old son and work a handful of hours a week from home)
-I did not throw a huge birthday party for anyone, I did not craft with my kids, I did not create new sensory bins for my toddler, I did not decorate my house, I did not bake homemade treats for my kids' class, I did not have a million playdates (<--- all things I used to feel guilty about not doing)
Now your turn--when do you find time for reading? What strategies work best for you? Do you find you have to sacrifice some things in order to do what you love?