You’ve got dinner. And drinks. And a networking event. And a date. And a million other things to do. How are you supposed to fit reading into that schedule? It’s hard. Don’t get me wrong. It’s like fitting in exercise. It’s hard, but it’s something you know you should do to better yourself and your health. In all my years of reading, from spending summer days sprawled on my floor surrounded by The Boxcar Children books to squeezing in a few pages before class in college, I’ve seen it all when it comes to reading. I’ve gone months without picking up a book, and I’ve read books in single days. I know it’s hard, but if it’s important to you, you’ll find the time — trust me. Here are some tips I’ve got on how to read more with your busy schedule. Let’s get started!
1. Make it part of your routine.
Establishing a morning and night routine will honestly change your life. I know that sounds dramatic — I know — but I recently established some effective routines, and it has helped me sleep better and accomplish more throughout my day. Having a routine also means you know you’re probably going to fit in reading somewhere throughout your day such as when you first wake up or right before you go to bed.
2. Read during your commute.
If you’re “lucky” enough to be able to take a train or a bus to work, take advantage of that downtime and pick up a book. I know commuting can be a pain, but if you can get a few chapters done, you’ll already feel so accomplished for the day. It could also help you unwind after a stressful day at the office.
3. Take thirty minutes at lunch.
On days that I can spare it, I like to take a thirty minute lunch to read. I grab my book (that is always safely in my bag) and sit on a bench outside to grab some sun and read a few pages. I can’t lie, I don’t do this every day. But on the days that I do take the break to read, I feel a lot more productive for the second half of my day because I took that much needed break from my screen.
4. Read in the most unexpected places.
I wish I were kidding, and this might be a little TMI, but I’ve finished entire books in the bathroom. I guess I’m lucky in a sense that I can read a page or two and put a book down (I don’t have to finish a chapter before closing the book like a lot of other people I know), but being able to read a few pages in line at the grocery store or while I’m waiting for the water to warm up to wash my face is a true benefit. It really is only a few pages at a time, but they make a world of difference.
5. Replace one episode of Netflix with one chapter of a book.
“I just don’t have time to read.” Yeah, okay. But don’t you have time to watch a few episodes of “Jane the Virgin?” We all spend more time watching TV than doing things that are good for us (reading, working out, etc.) than we would like to admit. I get it. It’s a lot easier to veg out in front of a screen than it is to engage your mind. But the next time you have the urge to flick on Netflix before you go to bed, try picking up a book instead. It doesn’t have to be “Wuthering Heights.”
6. Test out audiobooks.
Audiobooks are incredibly great for auditory learners. I, unfortunately, don’t thrive off of audiobooks, but they do have their time and place, like on long car rides or for long driving commutes. Audible is a great format for audiobooks, and if commuting takes up a lot of your time, this is a great way to consume some more media.
7. Schedule time for reading.
Just like you’d schedule dinner with a friend, you need to schedule time with yourself. This may be an easier pill to swallow for introverts that are used to doing this (or at least I am), but carving out time specifically to read may be the only way you are able to do it. And that’s okay! Reading is just as important as dinner or coffee with a friend.
8. Start a book club with friends.
If you’re an extrovert, or you just like to talk about what you’re reading, starting a book club might be just the thing that gets you reading more. Not only does it give you a place to talk about what you’re reading and digest it, but it also gives you a group of people to hold you accountable. Sometimes people don’t enjoy reading because it’s such a solitary activity, but turning it into a social event with a book club makes it a bit more fun for people who are a bit more social.
9. Bring a book with you wherever you go.
There have been more than a handful of times that I’ve been happy to have a book with me — I’ve gotten more than a few chapters in waiting for friends who are late for various engagements. Whenever I buy a new purse/bag, I try to make sure I can always fit a book in it just for those instances where I might be stuck waiting for someone with nothing better to do than scroll through Instagram.
10. Share what you’re reading.
Similar to starting a book club, having a platform to share your reading might make you more inclined to do that reading. A huge reason I have my blog is to share my reading with a wider audience and hold myself accountable to my reading goals. Goodreads is also a fantastic platform to share current reads, set reading goals, and write reviews on books you’ve read.
The most important thing is not to pressure yourself. If you just want to read more, start with 20 minutes a day. I gave myself a challenge at the beginning of the year to at least read 30 minutes a day. Now, I am far exceeding that goal because I made it a part of my daily habits. Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t think you’re reading enough. Any reading is enough reading.