How to Find More Time For Reading in Your Busy Day

In my last post I explained Why Creating a Reading Habit was so Important to Me. In this next post I thought it would be good to compile of list of ways in which we can find more time for reading.

Even just ten minutes here or there can add up to a substantial amount of reading time. By the end of the week you could have read for over an hour without really noticing it. Imagine what that means over the course of a year. Hopefully some of the ideas below might help you to find the time in your day for reading. I know that they have certainly helped me out in the past.

  • Read on Public Transport – It used to take me a good 45 minutes on the bus on the way to work. This journey was even longer on the way home. This was time I would otherwise have spent sat there doing nothing. I decided to use it as a opportunity to get some reading in. I was one of the first people on the bus in the morning which meant that I was guaranteed a seat. It was rare that I would have to stand on the way home. This gave me up to 100 minutes of reading time a day that I wasn’t using previously.
  • Go to work a bit earlier – bear with me on this one. For those you of who are driving or cycling to work obviously do not try reading during your commute! When I was a medical student I used to have to drive across Central Birmingham during rush hour. I would arrive at Wolverhampton hospital to fine no parking spaces available. This left me completely flustered by the time I rolled onto the ward. Quite quickly I got into the habit of leaving the house 45 minutes earlier. This meant I enjoyed a relatively quiet trip across the city before finding myself a parking space near-ish the hospital. I then made my way to the staff room and chilled out on the sofa, reading my book and drinking coffee. I would feel nice and zen by the time morning rounds started. The productive feeling that reading before work can provide really does set you up well for the rest of the day.
  • Read before bed – I wrote about the importance of creating a bedtime routine previously (See: The Importance of Developing a Bedtime Routine). For me, reading a book is a really important part of this routine. I use it as a mindful activity. It is not long before my eyes are feeling heavy and I am ready to go to sleep. I usually read for 15-30 minutes before bed, so that’s a good two to three hours of extra reading every week!
  • Enjoy a lie in – Nothing planned for your weekend? Why not just stay in bed with a good book?  It still gives me the productive feeling of having read, but with the added benefit of staying in bed.
  • Create your own book group – I started this recently with a group of friends. We agree a genre for the month and then everyone reads a book of their own choosing within that category. Of the 8 people invited to our group, on average 4 will manage to turn up to a session. We all take it in turns to tell each other about the book we read. Reading books that we have chosen ourselves gives us the flexibility to read something we know we will enjoy. Also, we know that we’ll have time to finish reading the book because we have chosen the length ourselves.
  • Replace television with books – Over the weeks I found that as I became more engrossed in my book, I seemed to put off watching my regular television shows. It wasn’t long before I realised that I didn’t even miss watching television.
  • Retreat from social media – I am a bit slow on the uptake with this one. I know I am particularly bad with Facebook. I do have a Twitter (@happybunnyfran) and Instagram account but I find them less addictive and therefore less time consuming. A friend on mine has recently gone on maternity leave. She commented that she could easily spend the whole day scrolling through Facebook (in between baby time of course). She then decided to delete the Facebook app from her iPhone. The result was that she was now reading more as she needed something productive to do with her day. I have now followed suit so we shall have to see how it goes!
  • If all else fails then cheat! – Audiobooks are great! Many people find that they are unable to read on the bus because of noise or travel sickness. I find that audiobooks are a nice substitute to pass the time. I particularly enjoy listening to autobiographies read by the author, especially comedians. So far I have listened to Michael McIntyre, Tina Fey, Miranda Hart and best of all, Stephen Fry (he actually has several volumes so I have a couple more to enjoy in the future).

So, there we have it. You now have no excuse not to jump on the reading wagon. Any thoughts, ideas, comments I would love to hear from you. My current read is called 10% Happier and I shall write a review of it when I am all finished.

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Why Creating a Reading Habit was so Important to Me

In the past my relationship with reading has been a bit hit and miss. For the most post I have always enjoyed reading. Somehow I just managed to avoid actually doing it. I found distraction in so many other, seemingly less demanding activities, namely watching television and playing video games. In some cases it would take me three months to finish a novel. I just did not have the discipline to sit myself down and concentrate on reading a book.

I am glad to say that the above is no longer the case. Reading on a daily basis is now something I am fully committed to. It is quite easy for me to identify the point at which this change in mind-set occurred. My attitude towards reading changed around 18 months ago.

Reading became a priority for me when I was suffering from terrible insomnia. It was actually my mother who suggested that reading might help. It was nearing Christmas time and she had bought me the latest book in the Bones series by Kathy Reichs (we had read all of them in our house). She handed me the hardback and told me that it was an early Christmas present.

That night I took myself up to bed and read for well over an hour. At that point my eyes became heavy and I was no longer able to concentrate on the plot line. I decided to call it a night, turned the light off and curled up in my duvet, expecting a sleepless night. Just over six hours later I awoke having had the longest sleep I had managed in weeks. I could have cried. I felt like a totally different person.

Being off of work at that time, I had nothing really that I needed to do during the day. I curled up on the sofa with a (decaf) cup of tea and continued reading. My anxiety was melting away. I no longer had time to sit there and ponder all of the horrible things which may or may not ever happen to me. Now I was too busy as I just had to know who the killer was (the book was a thriller with a murder at the beginning). It only took me a couple of days to get through that first book.

I wouldn’t say that reading was the only thing that helped me at this troubled time (I will be writing many posts on the ways I overcame anxiety, depression and insomnia). Reading did however bring about a change in my attitude. Whereas I felt a lack of enjoyment with other activities, for some reason I did not feel that way towards reading. Today, reading is an important part of my life. In particular, it is a key element in my bedtime routine (which I have written about here: The Importance of Creating a Bedtime Routine).

I have found that reading has made me a more interesting person. I have more to add in conversation and therefore social situations seem less daunting. For example, my friend’s husband is a librarian and we can now have in-depth discussions about our latest reads. My sister enjoys this new-found habit of mine as well. She has a master’s degrees in English literature and is always wanting to recommend new books to me.

Now, I know a lot of people who are keen to get into the habit of reading on a regular basis, but find themselves unable to do so. We have so many distractions in our lives that we convince ourselves that we do not have the time. I am inclined to disagree with this thinking. Personally, I found that once I was into the flow of reading that it became a priority for me. I stopped making excuses and created the time to read.  Specifically I had replaced much of my television-watching with reading.

There are many different ways in which you can make more time for reading, even if it is just ten minutes here and there. Ten minutes a day is over an hour every week. Imagine what you could read and learn about during that time!

I have been having a good think about ways that we can fit a bit of extra reading into our busy days. I’ll be writing about it in my next post: Ways to Find More Time for Reading in Your Day.

For now, thank you for reading this post. Any comments or even book recommendations then please, I would love to hear from you.

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