Tips and Tricks for Reading More (with a Busy Schedule)

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As some of you have confronted me about recently, I read a lot for a full time student with a thirty-hour job, who runs a club, and writes blog pieces once a week. The number of books I read in a month doesn’t seem to make sense with all of my responsibilities on top of my regular life.

Today I will share with you a few tricks that I have acquired over the years from personal experience and others’ advice (mostly Chelsea Palmer) that help me to get through books with a busy schedule.

If you have any tricks or tips that I may not have mentioned, please share them with us, so that we can add them to the list!

1. Make Reading a Priority

75446588_2552005948220950_6823095104962560000_oOne of the most important things you can do to help yourself read more, is to make reading a priority for yourself. If you are mindful of your reading and put it over less important tasks, like social media or watching TV, then you will naturally read more.

Keep in mind that it is important to have your own personal reasons for making reading a priority. For example, reading keeps your mind sharp and can help you de-stress after a long day, so mental health can be a reason. Maybe you have a long TBR that you’ve neglected, then the reason is to accomplish a list and meet a goal.

It is important to find your own reason for reading, even if it is just for entertainment and/or enjoyment. Otherwise, why read? How will you make something a priority, if there is no reason to?

Example:

Instead of scrolling through social media on your lunch break, read for 20 minutes. If you make a small change like 20 minutes every shift, you could already be adding over an hour of reading a week. That adds up!

A decent number of books are six to seven hours in length (depends on the person and book), so reading just an hour and a half a week, because you cut down social media time, means you could finish a book about every month.

2. Make Time (even just a little)

This goes with the example above. If you make a little bit of time every day and make it a habit, then you will naturally read more than not at all. If you already read a bit every day, try reading a bit more and pushing yourself by even a few minutes each day.

Even 5 minutes a day can add up, if you don’t usually read at all. It may not seem like much, but it can be a gateway into more reading over time.

“As of 2018, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 136 minutes per day, up from 135 minutes in the previous year.” –Statista

Imagine if you halved the amount of time spent on social media every day to snuggle up with a book. That would be about an hour of reading a day, 7 hours per week, and 365 hours per year. Imagine how many books that could be!

3. Read What You Enjoy

Read anything that sparks joy.

Yes, comic books and graphic novels count. Yes, news articles count. Anything that is reading (or listening to) writing counts.

Forcing oneself to read what we “traditionally” consider to be reading material, like novels and poetry, is not realistic and will lead to a loss of interest.

Reading should be fun, and you should read what ever you want to. When you enjoy reading, because you are reading what you are interested in, then you will naturally want to read more, because it is fun and not a chore.

When parents ask me how to get their children interested in reading, I ask the kid what they are interested in, then I hand them a comic, graphic novel, or magazine related to that interest.

They always look shocked that those count as reading and their parents always return for novels later, because reading became fun for their child. This applies to everyone, not just children.

DNF books that don’t spark joy.

(DNF-ing is when you add something to your “did not finish” shelf/list. You don’t have to actually have a list/shelf, but it is what people say when they give up on a book.)

Additionally, please don’t force yourself to read or even enjoy something just because it is popular or something you should like.

DNF-ing a book is totally acceptable. Do not waste your time reading something you do not enjoy reading.

This can put you in a reading slump, so try not to torture yourself by forcing yourself to finish a book, but also don’t guilt yourself for DNF-ing a book.

Your time is valuable, and there are plenty of other books in the world. You have every right to not like something, because not everything is going to be interesting to you.

4. Multitask & Make use of Menial Tasks

Audiobooks

This is the #1 reason I get any reading done while in school.

The thing that makes audiobooks so useful is that you can listen to them while doing everyday tasks that you would already be doing. This makes it so that you don’t even have to make time to read, because you are doubling up on your time by listening to a book during time you are spending doing other things.

Some things I do while listening to audiobooks and about how long each session is:

  • Driving to work (45 mins – 1 hr)
  • Walking to class (20 mins)
  • Dishes/Cleaning (20-30 mins)
  • Getting ready for school/work (15-30 mins)
  • Instagram (1-2 hrs)
  • Bullet Journaling (1-2 hr)
  • Eating/Cooking/Baking (20-60 mins)
  • Yoga (45-60 mins)
  • Shelving books, decorating, other work tasks that don’t require thought (2 hrs)

Most audiobooks are 6 to 10 hours in my experience, and I listen to them on 1.5 to 2.0x speed. Audiobooks are read at a fairly slow pace, much slower than your brain processes words when reading in your head, so it can be painful to listen at normal speed. This, I found out later, was why I didn’t like audiobooks.

Listening to a book at a faster speed feels more conversational, once you adjust to it, and can shorten the time it takes to listen to a book (unless you have to back track when it’s too fast).

Because I listen to some books on double speed, I finish an 8 hour book in just 4 hours. That could be driving to work about 2.5 times for me. Do you see what I am getting at?

Audiobooks don’t take time out of your day, and make it possible to shorten the amount of time you spend on a book.

You can feel like you’re being productive in your every day tasks, while accomplishing a reading goal. That’s a win-win situation, if you ask me.

5. Stay Motivated

It is important to have the motivation to read. If reading is a chore and something you feel like you have to do, then it defeats the purpose, and you’ll eventually enter a reading slump.

Here are some ways I stay in the reading zone:

Reward yourself

I like to get myself a cup of coffee or a new book, something special, when I finish a book or make good progress. This makes reading exciting, because I know I get to treat myself when I finish.

Set Goals

Having an easy and obtainable objective keeps me on track. I always know what I am aiming for, so I never have to wonder what to do next.

But, I do make my goals super easy. Like one book a month. I know I will read more than that, so I ensure a feeling of completion and even exceed my goal.

Keep track

I love having a visual list of books that I read and keep track of how I felt about them:

  • I use Goodreads to keep track of books I’ve read, want to read, and DNF-ed.
  • I create bullet journal spreads of those same lists (just shorter and more recent).
  • I also write monthly reviews for the books I read each month on this website.

Inspire Yourself

I like to follow/create Pinterest Boards for each book/series that I read, so that I can look at fan art to get excited about reading. I even use some of that art and some quotes to make custom bookmarks for the book. (Try not to run into spoilers though!)

Additionally, I love reading spoiler-free reviews on Goodreads for the books I want to read and watch YouTube videos about books. I personally enjoy Jesse the Reader‘s, Hailey in Bookland‘s, and PeruseProject‘s channels.


Now you can get started on some well deserved reading and share with us your recent reads!

Please let us know what tips and tricks you have for reading more!!

-Knight of Cups ❤


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