How to read more even if you’re really busy

I have basically been a bookworm ever since I first learned to read. I’m that person who doesn’t know how to not have a book to read. Even as a teenager in high school, I’d finish my work in class and then whip out a paperback that I had tucked inside my binder, happily reading until it was time to move on to something else.

Of course, being an adult means that a lot of things tend to get in the way of endless reading. For me that means family responsibilities, work, household stuff, and sometimes even just being too tired. My reading started to slack off a little bit.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot more though. I will never be that person who says, “I read 100 books last year!” but to be fair that’s never been me. I’m not super slow if I’m enjoying a book but I’m not a speed reader either.

Still, here are some tips on how to read more if that’s a constant goal of yours that you haven’t quite achieved to a satisfying degree yet.

How to Read More
How to read more books!

Bring something to read – everywhere

This is probably one of the more obvious tips on how to read more. However, sometimes the obvious things are the ones we overlook. So if you want to read more, you need to make sure you always have something close at hand. I used to carry a paperback (or two) with me at all times. Nowadays I read ebooks more frequently so I carry a ton of books on my tablet and read them in the Overdrive app. I bring something no matter where I’m going – the rare trip into the office, errands, whatever. You never know when you’ll get five minutes to read and having something within reach means you won’t sit there fuming about how you should have remembered to bring a book for the long wait at the doctor’s office.

Read everywhere you can

Speaking of having something handy when you find a few spare minutes for reading, reading whenever you have the chance. How often have you had to wait in line for something or camp out in a waiting room only to bust out your phone? Scrolling mindlessly on social media can pass the time but it’s not going to increase your book count. Read whenever you can. I have read in the car in the parking lot while George runs into the grocery store, on break, on lunch, and in line at the bank.

Do you commute to work by transit? If you can read on a bus then do it! (I never could unfortunately. It gives me motion sickness which is unfortunate since my commute used to be 40 minutes to work and 20 minutes home so that could have been an hour of reading each day if only it didn’t make me want to pull a Linda Blair.)

Set a goal

For the past couple of years I have set a reading goal on Goodreads (follow me!). Last year I set what I thought was a reasonable goal and blew past it with several months still left in the year and realized that I had underestimated myself. 

This year I set my goal at 30 books by December 31st but I’m already reading book 28 and I can’t imagine not being able to read more than 2 books over the next few months so I believe I will hit more than that goal as well.

Some people don’t like setting reading goals (and I don’t like setting a goal of which specific books I will read because I don’t know what I might feel like reading 3 weeks from now) but if you don’t let it make you feel pressured, it’s fun to see how you are doing.

Read what you love

This also feels like another no-brainer, but sometimes it’s easy to get sucked into worrying about what you think you SHOULD be reading without asking if that’s what you actually WANT to read. Sometimes I feel like I should have read many more classics in my life but every time I try to read one I lose interest. 

There’s also hype. People start talking about this incredible book they read and you see it everywhere, so you start thinking you should read it. But what if you’re three chapters in and it just isn’t for you? Do you keep reading it? Um, no. Life is too short.

I had this dilemma recently. I was reading The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and people have seriously loved it. As for me… well, I didn’t exactly hate it but let’s just say I was lukewarm about it. I have started to really enjoy fantasy in the past few years but I don’t know if fairies are really my thing. It was okay but I ended up deciding to DNF it (Did Not Finish) and moved on to something else.

I can read a lot more if I actually want to read a book versus thinking, “oh right, I should go read that…”

Embrace different formats

This is such a volatile topic. Physical books vs eBooks vs audiobooks. Bring that up in conversation and people can get pretty fired up with their opinions.

I’ve written about this before, and I tend to read books digitally more often. I won’t get into the reasons why again, there’s a whole post about it through that link. However, if you aren’t fully opposed to eBooks, I can highly recommend using your local library with either the Overdrive or Libby app.

For one thing, you can take out books from the comfort of your home without having to travel to the library to find something. If you have to put a hold on the books you want (I almost always have to do that) you don’t have to go out to pick them up when they come in later. You also don’t have to make time to take them back because they can be returned with a simple click.

This makes it really easy to stock up on books so you always have something to read no matter where you are (see those first tips!). There’s also a great motivator in using an app for your library books. Yes, you can click to return them, BUT if the book expires before you are done there is no option to keep them a couple more days; they basically hit the end of your time limit and disappear.

Believe me, nothing gets me to prioritize reading over mindless scrolling quite like glancing at Overdrive and seeing an alert like “expires in 2 days” when I’m not finished reading something I love.

As for audiobooks, they don’t work for me because no matter how hard I try I seem to phase out and miss entire sections. A lot of people find them to be a great way to consume a story though, so don’t be afraid to try it out. Is it technically reading? No, but the story is still the same and it has a certain amount of convenience since you can listen while you walk, go to the gym, commute, clean, whatever. 

How to Read More
How to Read More

Prioritize your reading

I alluded to this in the previous tip, but if you really want to read then you need to make it a priority. If you sit down with a book but you grab your phone and start scrolling through Facebook you’ll lose a ton of time looking at ridiculous things instead of reading what you wanted to.

During the summer I started a habit where I only used my phone in the morning to use my meditation app and to call George. After that, I put the phone down and didn’t pick it up again until I had read at least one chapter in whatever book I had on the go. It was just part of my (very basic) morning routine.

Now that we’re back into the school year I don’t have that same time available but I still do it on the weekends. I also make sure I set aside at least 20 minutes a day to read. Once I get started it often isn’t very hard to keep going well past that.

If you feel like you’re not reading as much as you want to, assess your habits and routines. Do you REALLY not have the time because you’re honestly that busy? Or are you wasting time on things that aren’t important?

Get your family on board

If you can get your family to share reading time with you, that’s amazing. However, not everyone is into reading or you may not all want to read at the same time. Either way it’s fine as long as your family understands that when your nose is in a book, you are busy.

Obviously I won’t ignore my entire family for days on end because I’ve gotten sucked into a particularly good series. However, if I want to take some time to read, they generally respect that. It’s not any different than when George goes downstairs to play guitar or the kids go off to do their own thing. Of course this is much easier now when I have two teenagers compared to having toddlers who seek out more attention. Still, even if you only manage short bursts of reading time, letting your family know that it’s your X minutes of getting lost in your book, you may be surprised by how much more reading you can accomplish.

Choose your media

If I want to read more, I have to make regular conscious decisions about what media I consume. I don’t watch much television anymore, just a small handful of shows. I can gain back that time to read instead. Same thing goes for mindlessly poking around the Internet or – even worse when it comes to time sucks – hitting up social media. It’s so easy to fall down a rabbit hole and spend way more time than you might have meant to on different apps. 

I basically had to ask myself, do I really want to hit refresh on Facebook or Twitter again? Or do I want to read? The odds that you’ll miss a really life-changing status update is pretty slim. Choose wisely. The hour you lose inside the quicksand that is Facebook could have been three chapters of your book.

(Speaking of quicksand, what was it with the 80s that led me to believe quicksand would be a constant threat to my safety? I spent way too much time concerned about it and reminding myself that if I ever got caught in it that I should float on my back…)

What are your tips?

Those are all some things that have really worked for me. What about you? Did I miss anything? Do you do any of these to carve out more time with your novels? Which is the one you use most often? Leave me a comment down below and don’t forget to share!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some reading to do!

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How to Read More

1 thought on “How to read more even if you’re really busy”

  1. I read a lot, but mostly blogs and articles on my phone or laptop. About a year ago, I started making more of an effort to put my phone away an hour before bedtime and reading books instead. I do love audiobooks too, and listen to them while I’m driving to and from my kids activities. 🙂 Nipa

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