How the Heck Do You Read So Much?

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

 

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My reading methods: paper, Kindle, and audio.

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

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My friend Erin sent me this picture so we could celebrate together that she found the TIME and space to read!

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

social-mediaThird 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

 

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I’m especially lucky because my library is less than a half mile away and it’s BEAUTIFUL!

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

 

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My personal 2017 challenge

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

speedometer-148960_960_720For 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.

What I’ve Learned Lately (May 2016)

Linking up with Emily P Freeman to share the things I learned in May 2016 (from the fabulous to the mundane).

  1. How to take REAL photos with the camera I’ve had for 10+ years. 13243904_10104871533908892_6134656546631205144_oAfter a friend of mine took an intro to DSLR class, I got jealous and contacted the teacher to ask if she had a more advanced level rather than introductory. I’ve known my way around my camera for a while, but I didn’t ever put that knowledge into use. I asked her for a class to get me more familiar with those settings and then learn a bit more about how to document our lives and take beautiful photos. She totally delivered. After 3 hours, my brain was full, but I’ve grabbed my camera more over the past few weeks to capture the moment than I did in the past 10 years. It was so worth my time and I LOVE my camera now!
  1. Trying to wash wood stain off your hands with water makes a huge mess. 20160522_160921For mother’s day, my husband agreed to buy the materials and work with me to build the next big project I had on our to-do list. It came together well, and then I got to stain it over a few days in our garage. The first day, I just threw away the foam brush I used to put the stain on, but after the second day I decided to wash it out. Holy moly was that a mistake. I SHOULD have bought paint thinner, but instead ended up spending an hour scrubbing out the sink afterwards, and it still looks awful.
  1. 20 minutes to myself in the morning changes my whole day. After being inspired to take back my mornings (the only part of my day where it’s quiet and no one talks to me), I started setting my alarm for 6:15 on Jason’s work days. Then I moved it back to 6:05. The kiddos’ “green light” goes on at 6:45, so that gives me a solid 40 minutes to read TheSkimm, do a short Bible study, catch up on social media, and just generally feel like I didn’t have to give to EVERYONE else all day long. It sets the tone for my day and makes me much more forgiving of all my boys later.
  1. Being pregnant over thirty is totally different from being pregnant under 30. As I’ve entered the last trimester of this third baby, I find I have so many more little complaints than I have in the past. With our first two boys, I felt like I just breezed through pregnancy with no complications. Now, I feel like the years have taken their toll a bit more!
  1. I like Myers-Briggs but I really feel like I know ME better through the Enneagram. This month, I re-took the MBTI test at 16personalities.com and felt like “yeah, that’s me…” But then I took an e-course that recommended determining your Enneagram type as well. As a basic primer, you can check out Anne Bogel’s post at Modern Mrs. Darcy about the difference between the two. When I found out what type I was (2, if you’re curious), I felt like I had been unlocked! It explained so much about what kind of reactions I have, and the way I behave when I’m healthy and thriving versus under stress and floundering. It just felt like a total lightbulb, much more so than MBTI ever did for me.