When people learn how much I read, they often say something like this: “That’s awesome! But I just don’t have time to read.” This statement is usually accompanied by an indulgent expression that says, “It’s a pity we don’t all have as much free time as you do!”
I won’t say I’m offended by this, but I am annoyed by it.
I’m a reasonably busy person. I have two kids who need caring for, and a marriage that needs nurturing, and four pets to keep up with, and friends to be there for. I cook the vast majority of our meals from scratch, and endeavor to keep my house clean. I write a blog, in addition to fiction and poetry. I do all of the little things required of being an adult.
But I still read. A lot. And it’s not because I’m not busy, or because I possess a Time-Turner, or because I ignore my family and responsibilities in favor of books. Want to know my secret? I make time for it.
Do you watch TV? Waste time on the internet? Pursue other hobbies? Then you have time to read. Even President Obama makes time for reading! It may not be your first priority, and that’s fine, but I think that sometimes people use busy-ness as a smokescreen for their personal choice not to read.
That said, here are some practical tricks for how I manage to get so much reading done:
1. I read quickly. If you’re a slow reader, there’s really nothing you can do to fix that except to read more. I’m a fast reader because I’ve been reading insatiably since I was a child, not because I’m magically talented. (However, I actually bought myself a deck of multiplication flashcards last week because I don’t know my multiplication tables. Want to know what I was doing in the third grade when I should have been practicing them? Yep, that’s right…reading).
2. I turn off the TV/computer. You’re welcome to watch TV and putter around on the internet. I do both sometimes! But know that you can spend that time reading instead. I’m not perfect, but I try to be intentional about my TV and internet use, so that I can turn them off and do something else when I’m no longer being productive.
3. I take advantage of quiet time. If you can believe it, I rarely ever read during the day on weekdays. The vast majority of my reading is accomplished after Simone goes to bed, or occasionally during the day on weekends. I know that I concentrate much better once she’s asleep, so I strive to get household chores (read: things I can do without a ton of focus) and other tasks out of the way while she’s still awake so that my evenings are free.
4. I read in snatches. If I’m waiting for an appointment, I read. If I’m waiting for Jason to finish brushing his teeth before I turn out the light, I read. If Simone’s in the bath and I have nothing to do, I read. Some books aren’t easily picked up and put down, so I often have two different books going at once. If you’re out and about a lot, an e-reader might be easier for you to carry around with you.
5. I read what I like. If the only reading you’ve ever done is in school, get to a bookstore and find something that interests you, even if it’s just a magazine. (One with more text than advertisements, please). I love reading, and even I didn’t enjoy all or even most of what I read in school. For me, reading has a domino effect: one good book leads to another to another to another…