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.)
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!
Imagine 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.
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!