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Nov 29, 2012
Tom Meitner

Squeeze Reading into Any Part of Your Day

Reading Week continues today with a look at how to find time to read. We’ve already talked about when reading went south for us, making it easier to do, and finding an outlet to share our experience.

We’ve established the following, if you’ve come this far: you like to read. You know that it’s important to do. There are possibly even books out there that you want to read right now.

But you’ve fallen into the victim-filled trap of: “I don’t have time to read!”

Short answer: yes you do.

Long answer: the rest of this post.

Truth is, all kinds of time exists for you to read. You have 24 hours in a day. You know who else does? That person you know who reads all the time. Me. The people writing the books. The people reviewing the books. Theodore Roosevelt (arguably the most awesome person to ever grace this planet) only had 24 hours a day, and he was a President, cowboy, Rough Rider, author, researcher, father, husband, and the coolest man alive, straight-up.

We’re all finding time to read with the same 24 hours you have. Now it’s your turn. Here are a few different times throughout the day where I’ve found time to read. I don’t necessarily use all of these times to read every day, but I have used them at some point.

Have your cereal with Stephen King

Plop that book or Kindle down next to your cereal bowl and eat your Froot Loops while diving into a crazy world of fantasy – or whatever it is you like to read.

You might think that you won’t get much reading done at breakfast.¬†Hey, that’s fine – but it’s a start. You certainly can read 10 minutes’ worth of something at the breakfast table. Do that and you’ll read over an hour a week. That’s not a ton, but it’s more than you were doing!

Take a break with Bill Bryson

Are you a working stiff? Don’t let The Man tell you how to take your breaks. Instead of standing outside with a butt in your mouth, sit inside (or outside on a nice day) with a book in your face.

Again, mealtime works as a great option. Lunch is one of those optimal book-reading-type meals, because it’s not like you’re giving up watching TV or anything – unless you have an awesome job where you work from home like me.

Sit in the lunch room or at your desk with a book in one hand and a sandwich in the other. Block out the rest of the world for a little bit. In most cases, between lunch and breaks you’ll have about an hour’s worth of free time at your job – or half an hour. That’s plenty of time to get some reading done, and it’s another really easy way of squeezing it in.

Plus it beats putzing around, talking about how much money you wasted on lottery tickets with your coworkers.

Commute with Carol Higgins Clark

If you ride the bus, awesome – you already have plenty of built-in time to read! Get your work done at the office and let your commute be “you” time. You can even leave your headphones in.

If you are behind the wheel every day, no problem – but you are going to want to leave the book on the passenger’s seat. No amount of reading is worth risking hitting that fire hydrant. Instead, get yourself a subscription to Audible, or get free audio books at Books Should Be Free. Load them up on your iPod, phone, or other mp3 player, and listen to the book on the way to work.

Think audiobooks are nerdy? It can’t be any nerdier than singing terrible top 40 songs at the top of your lungs. You’re in your car – nobody has to know. Your round-trip drive could mean up to an hour of reading a day!

Fall asleep with Faulkner (not literally)

Bedtime is one of my favorite times to read. You can ditch the screens and let your eyes relax, and you can zone out after a hectic day. It’s quiet, you’re comfortable, and the book practically reads itself.

I find that bedtime reading bridges the gap between being awake and falling asleep for my brain. Some nights, especially if I don’t read, my brain is going a mile a minute and I can’t sleep. Reading winds me down.

Again, even 10-15 minutes of nighttime reading goes a long way.

Substitute time with Sylvia Plath

Another cool trick to squeezing in more reading is to give up something else in return – especially stuff you don’t need, such as:

  • Watching the news. Here’s a great post I recently read on why we should all just stop checking out the news so much.
  • Watching TV. Don’t want to give up TV? The average show is 20-25 minutes long. Give up one of those a night and you have some solid reading time available.
  • Surfing the Web. You do this more than you think. Turn off Facebook for 10 minutes and open a book.

Downtime with David McCullough

Think of the times when you are waiting – especially alone: doctor’s offices, restaurants (in some cases), bus stops. These are great times to get some reading done.

You can carry a book with you everywhere, and that’s fine. Or, you can grab a Kindle and put the Kindle app on your phone. Then when you want to read, you can just pull out your phone and go through a few pages. What’s cool about the Kindle app is that it syncs with your Kindle, so when you turn on your Kindle or open your Kindle app, you go automatically to the last page you were reading. Slick business!

And to those that protest reading on a phone: you’re staring at the darn thing all the time anyway. You’re not reading the whole book on your phone. You’re just knocking out a few pages here and there.

Time doesn’t just come to you

You don’t just wake up one morning with a bunch of free time on your hands. Whether it’s reading or writing or building a business, you have to make time for it. Take an active approach to your reading and you’ll find the time – you just may have to do less of something else in return, and that’s a good thing.

Make the time.

Tomorrow: what to do when you don’t know what to read.

What’s your favorite time/place to get some reading done?

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