Finding the time to read is one of the big challenges that come hand in hand with our modern, fast paced lives. We are constantly bombarded by distractions, our lives are more competitive now than ever before and we have less and less time for ourselves.
While we are all well aware of the benefits of regular reading, from intention to accomplishing your reading goals is a long way. Learning how to find time to read books is essential nowadays and while most of us don’t give it much thought most of the time, we probably should.
What gets in the way of reading?
As Sun Tzu was saying more than 2000 years ago, knowing your enemy is essential regardless of the type of battle you are trying to win. So, let’s explore some of the most common things that don’t allow us to make time to read as much as we would like or in some cases, not at all.
Knowing the obstacles we are facing is the first important step towards finding a solution to this pressing issue. The sooner we realize exactly what is holding us back from achieving our reading goals, the sooner we can come up with a strategy to overcome them.
Saying that we work now more than ever would be a bold statement that is only in part supported by statistics. The number of hours worked on average every week and the commuting time hasn’t changed drastically over the past couple of decades, but they are on a slight increase.
What drastically changed is how connected we are to our work environment. While 30 years ago we were officially spending 8 hours a day at work like we do now, back then the workday really ended the second we were out the office’s doors. Most jobs today require us to remain constantly connected to the people we work with.
We constantly receive work emails on our phones, we get IMs outside working hours, which means we are basically completely unable to completely disconnect from our jobs. This takes a huge toll on our free time because even though we are not physically at work, even when we spend time at home, we are very likely to keep thinking about the things we’re supposed to do when we get back to the office.
This, of course, is quite a difficult obstacle to overcome if we want to make time to read. It’s hard to focus on a book when our mind keeps wandering off to the emails we received or we need to answer our manager’s IMs outside working hours.
Of course, our jobs are not the only ones distracting us constantly. Our phones, as essential as they have become nowadays, are filled to the brim with time-wasting apps and what’s even worse, all these apps are constantly fighting for our attention.
Focusing on a book while our phone is constantly buzzing is not an easy task and while work IMs may be important, we all have to admit that 90% of the time we pick up our phones for things that are completely irrelevant, like social media notifications or funny memes sent by a friend through a messaging app.
Those of us who have children know very well that being a parent, as rewarding as it is most of the time, comes with a complete surrender of most of our free time. Spending as much time as possible with our children is not only one of the greatest joys in life, it is also extremely important for their development and emotional health.
What most parents seem to forget is that having a happy, healthy and emotionally stable child is directly related to the mental state of the parent as well. Being miserable, grumpy and on edge while spending hours and hours with a child is not necessarily better than spending less time, but in a better mood.
A burnt out parent is not the best choice for a child, so we constantly need to remind ourselves that we need to take better care of ourselves first in order to be the best parents to our children. Finding time to read when a child is in the house may be challenging, but it’s definitely not impossible and can have huge benefits.
Lack of motivation
Overcoming all these obstacles can only be done if we are properly motivated and committed to finding time to read. The benefits of having healthy reading habits are extensive enough to give us a wide variety of choices to find the right motivation.
Whether you choose to read because you want to be smarter, healthier or more relaxed, keeping that reason in mind is essential to finding the strength to keep it as part of your daily routine despite the difficulty of making time to read we face nowadays.
Ultimately, having no time to read books comes down, to a certain extent, to our mindset. In other words, finding the answer to “how to find time to read books?” takes a bit more introspection than looking at outside factors. Our approach to reading in general could be in fact the main issue and changing our mindset could be the most important strategy.
How to find time to read books?
Since not finding the time to read is such a common issue nowadays, we did a lot of research and managed to condense all our knowledge in a couple of main categories of advice to help you overcome this and find clever ways of optimizing your free time in a way that incorporates reading in your daily routine.
By being mindful about reading
The main thing to understand about not having time to read is that it has a lot to do with how mindful you are about your reading. It’s easy to say that there is simply not enough time in a day to read, but the truth is that if you put some thought into it, you will soon realize that by consciously eliminating distractions and being more organized, you can achieve a lot more than you would expect.
Here’s a couple of the most helpful things to do in order to use mindfulness in your efforts to find time to read.
Find your motivation and set goals
Finding the right motivation to increase the time you spend reading is essential. Choose one of the many benefits of reading and focus on it as the reason you want to find the time to read. Once your motivation is there, you will need to use it to set yourself the right goals.
Use Basmo, the best reading tracking app out there, to set your goals, whether it’s a daily goal for time spent reading or a yearly goal for the number of books you read.
Be organized. Use Basmo
Speaking of Basmo, you should know it is the ultimate tool for the modern reader and it is packed to the brim with features aimed to help you become a more organized reader.
Creating reading lists with Basmo is easy, quick and efficient and the scheduling feature allows you to choose the exact days of the week and different times on each day for your reading sessions. Not only that, but you will even get reminders for the upcoming reading sessions.
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Being mindful about your reading sometimes means you need to take a step back and realize what is distracting you or wasting your precious time. And more often than not, you will realize that your TV and your smartphone are consuming a lot more of your time than you would like to admit.
Turn off the TV, disable your notifications on your phone or put it in airplane mode and read for an hour. You will quickly realize that it’s a lot easier to find time for reading when you are not focused on a ton of other completely unimportant things.
Join a reading challenge or book club
Sometimes it’s ok to admit that we can’t do things alone. Whether it’s because we are overwhelmed by other aspects of our lives or just the way we are as a person, sometimes joining a community can help us find the strength to do a lot more than we would alone.
Luckily there are hundreds of online communities, book clubs and reading challenges to choose from nowadays. If you don’t want to be alone in your efforts and want to see how others overcome the same challenges you face, join one.
It’s not uncommon for us readers to sometimes hide behind the fact that we don’t have a book to read. If you’re concerned that you’re trying to make excuses for yourself, try e-books.
The number of available titles is a lot higher than what you would be able to find in any physical library and the fact that you will have that e-book on any of your electronic devices will make it a lot more likely for you to find the time to read it. Ultimately, you can do it anytime, anywhere. No excuses.
Make things easier for yourself
One of the most important things to focus on when trying to build healthy habits, in general, is to figure out ways to make things as simple as possible for you.
Let a book on the table in front of you for example. You are a lot more likely to find the time to read a couple of pages if you don’t have to stand up from your couch and search for your book on a cluttered bookshelf.
Change your mindset
As I was saying earlier, sometimes the real problem is actually a lot closer than you would expect: right in your mind. Changing your views about reading can turn out to be a complete game changer and the ultimate tool in your fight to find the time to read.
Reading is not a chore
One of the most common mistakes we make in our approach on reading is to start thinking of it as a chore. The reality is that reading is a thing that can benefit us greatly and we should always see it as it really is: an opportunity. Whether the reading we do is mandatory or recreational, we should always see it as an opportunity to become smarter, more empathetic, healthier and better people overall.
Maintaining this positive mindset of never saying “I have to read” and constantly reminding yourself “I get a chance to read”, you will certainly find the time to read a lot easier and more often.
You don’t need to make time for reading
Last but not least, a little mind blowing fact for you: regardless of how busy you are, how little free time you think you have, you do have time for reading already. You don’t need to invent the 25 hours day, the time for reading is right there.
Despite what you may think, reading can be done anytime, anywhere, under any conditions and in as many daily sessions as you need. It is not absolutely necessary to set one hour per day aside, to prepare a cup of tea and snuggle under a blanket in perfect silence with your book.
We know that sounds amazing, but the reality is that you can do the same amount of reading in shorter sessions throughout the day: read while you drink your morning coffee, on your commute to work, during your lunch break, on your commute back to work, while you eat dinner and when you go to bed. It is really that easy.
If you manage to read just 10 minutes in each of the five sessions I presented above, you would have read for 50 minutes by the time you fall asleep, without making any changes to your daily routine.
So, how to find time to read books? It’s easy. Change your mindset, be mindful about your reading, identify what motivates you and you’re golden.
If you add Basmo to the mix as well and start using a reading tracking app to better organize your reading habits and keep track of your progress towards your goals, there is literally no stopping you from reading on a daily basis.
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Track the books you read, monitor the time you spend reading and keep notes on your reading habits and how it makes you feel. You can set yourself targets for the time you spend reading and you can get notified whenever you’re behind on your reading time.