I’ve got three kiddos! They are 6 years, 3 years, and ALMOST 6 months old. And I homeschool! But I read 123 books last year, and 19 last month. So, the question I get more often than any other, ever, is “how are you reading that much?”
No, we don’t live in a sty. No, we don’t eat boxed dinners every night. No, my children are not neglected. But I am always trying to fit a book in somewhere. Here are my favorite tips for getting more reading in to your life.
How I Read: The Methods
First tip: diversify your reading styles. This will make it easier to find time to read. I am almost always reading three TYPES of books at once. One actual, paper, printed book. One ebook on my Kindle Paperwhite (the absolute best for dedicated reading, because you can read in the dark or in the sunshine, and you can read without getting interrupted by text, phone, social media notifications!). And one audiobook in my ears. By diversifying my actual input methods, I always have something to read, and I can read or listen in almost any situation.
When I Read: Finding The Time
Second tip: finding the time to read is easier than you think! Since I have multiple books going at once, I find that each reading method lends itself to distinct situations. When I am cooking, I use either my Kindle or my Bluetooth headphones (like this, but these were great also) to read or listen. That way, the pages of my paper book don’t get messy from oil splatters. When I am doing dishes, folding laundry, or cleaning, I am listening to an audiobook, so my hands are free to get messy or be busy. While I drive, I keep one headphone in on one side so I can hear my kiddos and the traffic noise around me, but they listen to their music while I listen to my book. And when we are eating breakfast or hubby is watching a show after the kiddos go to bed, I am usually reading my paper book. Along with those specific times, I also try to squeeze in reading wherever I can. Kiddos are done with school and ready to watch a show? Mama gets a break to sit on the couch and read as well. I have to wait in line at a store or wait for a doctor/dentist/kid appointment? Grab a book to pass the time! Nursing the baby? Might as well read while you’re just sitting there! For further ideas on how to identify these pockets of time in your life, I cannot recommend The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner ENOUGH! This book will help you find margin in your day and harness it for the activities that give you life. Guess what the majority of Jessica’s survey respondents said they wanted more time for? Reading!
What I’m Not Doing: Ditch the Distractions
Third tip: ruthlessly cull time-sucking apps. If you want to read more, but can’t find any time to do so, my question is this: do you use Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter? All the time? I’ll be honest; I’m a social media junkie. There, I said it. That mindless scrolling will suck me in for hours if I let it. So, I took a few preventative steps: I uninstalled Facebook from my phone, AND cleared cookies on my browser so that I can’t log back in that way (2-step verification: recommended, but a total pain if you need to log in somewhere new!). That makes it easier to avoid the scroll. I ditched the Pinterest app and I never had the Twitter app. I kept FB messenger and groups as well as Instagram, to keep in touch with the parts of that platform that actually give me life, but only check in to the actual site once or twice a day from my PC instead of spending all day wasting time. I don’t have a show (or shows) that I watch on Netflix, but every once in a while hubby and I will pick one to watch together. That means most nights I’m reading for at least an hour or two after the kiddos are in bed. Which automatically gives me 360+ hours of reading per year. Installing an app called Rescue Time on both my phone and my PC really helped me clue in to where I was spending my online time. Being aware of it made me more likely to moderate it.
Deadlines and Money: Borrowing Books
Fourth tip: utilize your library. Whether you’re saying “but I could never afford 123 books a year!” or you just need an extra push, I recommend checking out books from the library. This will give you two important advantages. First, library books and membership are FREE!!! Most libraries also have ways for you to borrow audiobooks and kindle books for free online, so you can utilize the “multiple methods” tip from above. Second: libraries have deadlines! If you know that someone else is waiting for that book, or you’ll have to pay a fine if you return it late, you may be more likely to make time to read it so you can get it back on time. Or, as in the case of audiobooks and kindle books, if you know it will disappear at a certain time. Using the library can be a great way to move reading up on your priority list!
Reading BIG: Setting Goals
Fifth tip: make a goal for yourself, or get thee to a reading challenge! My next tip works great for me since I am an Obliger in Gretchen Rubin’s Habits framework (go here if you want to find out more about what that means and take the quiz yourself!). I need accountability and external goals to reach! When I make a goal for the year, and share it publicly, I am more likely to grab a book than do almost anything else. If I have any free time at all, I want to spend it reading, so these goals are imperative to me. I use an excel spreadsheet as well as Goodreads to track my reading and motivate myself even further. I love checking off books as finished!
Bonus Tip: Crank Up The Speed
For those of you that are audiobook lovers but feel like they take longer to listen to, I recommend slowly increasing the speed as you listen to your books. When you start listening to audiobooks, try moving the speed slider up just a bit to 1.1x. It won’t feel like anything has changed. A week or so later, move it up again by a little bit. Keep doing this until you get it to a faster speed that you can still understand, but before it sounds like Minnie Mouse is reading to you. I find it’s pretty easy to get to 1.5x pretty quickly. If you want to devour books even faster, keep going until you get to 2.0x (that’s where I listen) or more. Then, even when you pick up a long book, you can mentally cut that time in half and finish books in just a few days!
I truly hope one or all of these tips helps YOU to reach your reading goals this year!
Happy reading, my friends.