We all have busy lives. Between work, school, family, friends, hobbies, and other responsibilities, it’s hard to imagine having enough time to sit down and enjoy a book. Nevertheless, anyone can fit reading into their schedule by trying these nine effortless tips.
1. Try an audiobook. When your schedule is packed, multitasking is your best friend. Audiobooks allow you to ‘read’ while you’re in the car, in the shower, or doing chores around the house. Hundreds of your favorite books are available through the library on CD or cassette tape. Similarly, mobile apps like Audible and Libby enable you to listen to books wherever you go. Alexa can even read to you from Kindle or Audible.
2. Go mobile. No time for reading? There’s an app for that. Take your books on the go with apps like Amazon Kindle, Oodles Ebook Reader, and FB Reader, which all offer free downloads of thousands of your favorite books. That way, you can take your books wherever you go, and you can read whenever you have a chance to look at your phone. A list of ebook apps available through the library can be found here: https://www.westbendlibrary.org/library_services/online_resources-databases/. Additionally, there are apps specifically for people who have limited reading time. For example, Serial Reader and Blinkist offer bite-sized portions of classic novels that only take 15-20 minutes to read.
3. Keep it short and simple. Don’t struggle through some long, dense novel if you barely have time to read at all. A quick Google search for “short books” or “novellas” will come up with hundreds of results. “Home” by Toni Morrison, “The House on Mango Street” by Sandra Cisneros, and “The Grownup” by Gillian Flynn are just a few examples of modern novels with under 200 pages. Similarly, many classic novels, like “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, and “The Old Man and the Sea” by Ernest Hemingway are short and easy to read. You could also pick up a book of poetry; many poems are only a few pages long, making for a reading session brief enough to fit into your busy schedule. Essentially, short, easy-to-read books will make daily reading seem more manageable.
4. Ration your time. When you don’t have much time to read, it’s important to make the most of the time you do have. Eliminate distractions before sitting down with a book; put away your phone, turn off the TV, and make sure it’s quiet enough for you to focus. For an extra concentration boost, turn on some classical music; after all, studies show that it increases reading speed and comprehension. You could also plan your reading sessions ahead of time, so they fit into your schedule. This could mean bringing a book to your lunch break at work, picking one up before bed, or even waking up early to read. It could also mean setting a timer during reading sessions so that they don’t last too long. No matter how busy your schedule is, you can always squeeze in a few pages here and there.
5. Speed-read! Speed-reading isn’t just for late nights before exams. Rather, it’s a legitimate technique used by many avid readers. To speed-read, limit subvocalization; in other words, don’t say the words in your head as you’re reading them. This silent speech is an extra (and unnecessary) step for your brain to process, and it will reduce your reading speed. Another speed-reading technique is to sweep your finger across the lines of the book as you read. Following your finger will force your eye to move across the page faster, as well as eliminate visual regression (unconscious re-reading.) Finally, if you’re really pressed for time, read the first sentence and last sentence of a paragraph, and then skim through the middle. Typically, the first sentence of a paragraph will review what the paragraph will be about, and the last sentence will summarize it. Though this technique is good for absorbing information, it might not be the best way to enjoy a novel.
6. Connect with other busy readers. You’re not the only one who’s struggling to make time for reading-join one of the library’s many book clubs to find other people like you. We offer seven different book clubs to fit your interests (and schedule.) A list of the clubs can be found here: https://www.westbendlibrary.org/adults/book_clubs_/. Moreover, we offer book club kits, which you could use to make your own book club. Each kit contains a book, an audiobook, and a list of discussion questions; some come with movies and author biographies. More information can be found here: https://www.westbendlibrary.org/adults/book_club_kits_/ By joining or creating a book club, you will find group of people to hold you accountable for reading (the best type of peer pressure.) In all likelihood, they lead busy lives too; if they can do it, so can you.
7. Surround yourself with books. Even if you can’t read as often as you’d like to, you can still incorporate books into various aspects of your life. For example, you can attend events at the library, or you can follow social media pages which center around reading (the @westbendlibrary Instagram page is a great place to start.) Being a part of this community of readers could inspire you to read more, or to simply connect with people who do. Similarly, you can borrow or buy more books than you think you’ll have time for. Simply having them in your home, immediately accessible to you, will encourage you to pick them up and read.
8. Pick books you’ll enjoy. If you view reading as difficult, boring, or just plain pointless, it’s hard to pick up a book. This may sound like a no-brainer but selecting books that genuinely interest you will make reading much more enjoyable. Read books that you want to read, not books that you feel like you “should” read. Perhaps you could make a list of books you’ve always wanted to read but never gotten around to, or you could pick books based off your pre-existing interests, so that you can directly apply your new knowledge to your life. In this way, you can see that reading isn’t just another time-consuming chore; instead, it’s an enjoyable and gratifying activity that you can easily fit into your daily life.
9. Make it a priority. Recognizing the importance of reading will help you to fit it into your schedule. Studies show that reading improves memory, increases focus, and enhances writing skill. Moreover, it’s a rewarding method of stress relief and mental stimulation. Once you’ve realized the applied value of reading, making time for such an important habit will seem natural and effortless.