How To Make Time to Read (When You’re Super Busy)

How To Make Time to Read (When You’re Super Busy)

We all know it: Reading is important. Especially for writers. How can we become great storytellers without studying the great works of others?

But we’re busy! GAH! How can we find the time for books, between writing, working, studying, and saving the earth from space pirates by night? (…Wait, that last part’s just me. Shh, don’t reveal my secret identity!)

While I still don’t read as much as I’d like to, I have found three tricks that helped me tremendously. I’m consuming far more books than I used to. Are you ready? Here are my 3 secrets: (That is, besides my status as galactic vigilante.)

1. Multi-task.

You spend more time doing “nothing” than you realize. Waiting in doctor’s offices. Commuting to school or work. Silently eating lunch. Watching a pot boil. (Didn’t they tell you not to do that?)

These moments feel short and insignificant while they’re happening, but oftentimes they are perfect opportunities to sneak in a page or two of reading. They’re just in disguise. (Like I am, at night. *awkward cough*)

For this reason, I always try to have a small-sized book on hand that I can bring with me anywhere, so I’m always armed if one of these “nothing-moments” comes.

Also: This can serve as a sneaky life-hack. I personally have a problem with tardiness; so, in college, I used to motivate myself to get to class earlier by rewarding myself with a few paragraphs of reading. The earlier I got to class, the more time I had to read. This can do wonders for time-wonky people like myself!

2. Little bits add up.

There are more opportunities for miniature reading sprints in your day than you realize, no matter how busy you are. The problem is, you usually use this time for other things.

Those 15 minutes you spent checking social media notifications? You could have been reading. Those extra 30 minutes you spent slamming the snooze button before work? You could have been reading.

Don’t be afraid to make time for nibbles of reading, even if it’s just a page before bed, or a couple paragraphs while you’re scarfing down breakfast. These deceivingly tiny bites are not nothing. They do add up, far faster than you’d expect. Think about it: Will you get more reading done if you read 10 minutes every day, or 2 hours every other week? Do the math. Little amounts do count.

3. Audio books.

And this, my friends, is my ultimate secret weapon.

Some people are skeptical of audio books, and for good reason. I will admit, not every book works well in audible form. Some are best experienced with one’s eyes, and not with one’s ears.

But then – and hear me out on this – there are countless other books that I would argue not only make great audio books, but in many cases are better as audio books!

Girl listening to audio bookImagine this. Consider the numerous classics you’ve been subjected to in school that are inundated with long, descriptive paragraphs that are so boring they nearly put you to sleep. And what a shame, because you know these are good books, and you know you could glean a lot from them if you could just somehow concentrate; but your mind completely refuses to stay anchored on the page.

Now, imagine instead of reading these wordy paragraphs, they were read to you by a skilled, professional narrator, whose grand, sweeping voice transported you instantly to the world of the story while you were, say, doing laundry, or cooking dinner, or conducting less-than-engaging homework.

The commercials for Audible do not exaggerate. Audio books truly do open up a whole new world of experiences. And just so you know this isn’t a sly advertisement for Audible, there are plenty of other options for audio books out there, including free ones on Spotify.

Final note: In the last six months, I have listened to eight audio books, and completed nine physical books. In other words, my total reading count nearly doubled because of audio books. (And some of these audio books I enjoyed more than my physical books.) Just saying.

For discussion…

Have you used any of these tricks? How do you find time to read? And will you join me in my nocturnal quests to save the planet? Let me know in the comments below!

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14 Responses

  1. James da Silva
    | Reply

    You can schedule time before you go to sleep, sometimes this can put good thoughts into your mind for a more pleasant sleep, or if you are someone who falls asleep right after the first sentence, schedule 15 minutes when you first wake up. I find the porcelain library is very conducive to reading, until your butt gets sore.

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      This is very true, Grandpa! Reading before bed is a great way to encourage your mind to relax and have peaceful dreams (unless you’re reading a thriller or something). Haha, I’ve never made use of the porcelain library! XD

  2. Dre @ Sporadic Reads
    | Reply

    Whenever I have something to do that requires waiting, I always have a book ready on my Kindle app. Or a small book that I carry inside my bag, especially when I travel. Waiting in airports for hours can be so boring that I just have to have something to read.

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      So smart, Dre!! Airports can be the best opportunities for reading. I always secretly hope to get there extra early so I’m “trapped” and have nothing to do but read. XD

  3. cathleentownsend
    | Reply

    I love the idea of rewarding myself for being early by using the time to read. What a great idea.

    I’m looking into audio books as well, from the production side. I’m going to try to DO an audio book because I love them, especially in the car on trips.

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      It can be a very powerful reward. 😉

      I want to do an audio book, too! Admittedly, I’m a little afraid to do it, though. I’m not trained in narration/voice acting, and I don’t want to mess up the book experience… BUT we authors know our characters most intimately, and we are of course most passionate about the story, so maybe that can make up for any lack of professional skills in that particular arena. 🙂 If you learn anything from your experience making an audio book, I’d love to hear!

  4. Cait @ Paper Fury
    | Reply

    I love audios!! I ADORE THEM. I get so much “reading” done when I go for walks or am doing like just a hobby like drawing/origami or something to relax. It’s just so epic and I love listening to things. I’m seriously considering signing up to audible next year. XD I want to listen to SO MANY THINGS but my library really has a horrific selection. Gah. I’m a bit opposite in all this though, because I tend to fit my writing around my reading. 😉 I’m definitely an intense bookworm. hehe.
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      YES ANOTHER MEMBER OF MY TRIBE. Audio books are magic!! XD I signed up to Audible for a few months, but ended up canceling because I wasn’t buying ENOUGH books for it to be worth it. I still listen to a lot of them, though. Hehe, bookworming is good! Maybe even better, because your writing will be the richer for it! 😉

  5. Rae Oestreich
    | Reply

    I really need to invest in audio-books. I’ve heard SO MANY PEOPLE tell me how great they are, particularly when you’ve got a long road trip. So many times I’ve been on a drive to/from home and figured an audio book would be perfect *.*

    I totally agree with the multi-tasking thing, though. When I read short stories in my workshop, or am reading to finish something for a book review, I do it while I cook, if I’m waiting for a class to start, or even a chapter in between homework assignments just to give myself a break. During commercials of new episodes of my shows is nice, too (commercials are boring >_>).

    Great tips, Brianna!

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Rae! ^_^ AND YES you do need to give audio books a try! 😀

      I can see you have mastered the art of multitask-reading. *nods in respect to your prowess* During commercials – that is brilliant. :O

  6. Alex Micati
    | Reply

    A great read, this was! Yoda was in the neighborhood, on a coffee run. I called the wise soul, drank coffee with it and asked for its thoughts. I asked for more. Reply? “After second cup of coffee, ask me”…

    On a slightly more serious note, great read! I will start creating a TBL list (to be listened) of audio books and review my multi-tasking talent, which are now doing each task on its own, therefore dropping the “multi” aspect of it.

    Back to my Pluto side (my Goofy side having been taken care of, in the first paragraph), I will gladly be part of your “nocturnal quests to save the planet”. Your quests have to be told, don’t they? 😛

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Thank you, Alex! Far too long since I have spoken with the great master Yoda, it has been.

      I’m glad these tips were useful for you! As for saving the planet… (*glances covertly behind shoulder* *peers across shadowed room*) We must not speak of it… here. THEY could be listening. THEY are always watching. But if you believe you have what it takes, a message will arrive tonight, at the appearance of the first star, with your initial instructions. Be watchful. The time will come swiftly. And it will not come again.

      (PST: I can see you submitted two comments. I assume you thought the first one was eaten, because it went to the dark underworld of “comment moderation”. Since both were quite similar, I assumed it would be befitting to publish the second. Have no fears, however; once a comment has passed through the arcane caverns of moderation, the author of said comment no longer has to face such trials again.)

  7. stephwang
    | Reply

    I didn’t realize how much time I wasted on social media when I could have been reading until I read your post. I usually have a strict no-technology rule an hour before bedtime. I usually get most of my reading done at that time because I shut down my computer and silence my cell phone. It may seem weird, but I like knowing that I am unreachable by the outside world while I’m reading. I’m going to try to have a book with me where ever I go, so if I have any ‘down-time,’ I can jump right into a good book! Thanks for the advice!

    • Brianna da Silva
      | Reply

      Wow, Stephanie, I’m so glad this post was useful for you! ^_^ I do the same thing at bedtime; I have a set time when I turn off all social media, and I try to avoid screen entirely if I can, so that my mind can calm down before I sleep. It’s that hour or so window when I do most of my fun reading. ^_^ And bringing a book everywhere is so helpful, too!

      (By the way, this comment – along with your others – went to moderation… it did work! I’m sorry for the confusion. I’ll delete the duplicates… and I’m going to turn off moderation, because you’re like the dozenth person that this has happened to. xD For some reason, my blog doesn’t give a confirmation that the comment has been submitted?? I don’t know, it’s weird!)

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