Carving Out Time to Read

When I was young, before university, I seemed to have bags of time to read. I devoured books at an alarming rate. Sometimes two in a day. Then I hit university and between lectures, labs, and other commitments I didn’t read for pleasure for months at a time.

Then of course after university, you start working and think you’ll have much more time to read. That was a rude awakening. The demands of work and family can eat up even more time than at university. Even though most reading I could do could be for pleasure, almost none of it was. I think from the time I started university until five years after university I managed to read perhaps twenty books in total. I realized this was unacceptable to me and made a conscious effort to increase my reading volume.

The first thing I did was to wake up a few minutes earlier than I had been. I’m not a particular fan of getting up early, but at the time it was the easiest option. I found, though, that even fifteen minutes could allow me to get a chapter in before heading off to work. You know what happened? Giving myself the opportunity to read before work, gave me a bit of a mood lift and made my days more enjoyable. Even just a chapter gave my mind something to chew on through the day and made me eager to read more.

The next bit was obvious. I started reading at lunch. Now this sounds simple and something I should have been doing all along, but as many of you know, lunch these days is not a foregone conclusion. Even if you get the time to eat, very often you have to work through it or run an errand or perhaps travel to a different location for work. Now, though, unless absolutely necessary I force myself to stop working and open a book.

I keep a book (several books actually) at work and will read as I eat. I get as alone as possible and get away from work into another world. If something happens and I don’t get to read through lunch, I feel irritated and am perhaps not as productive through the afternoon. I wonder if anyone has done a study linking lunchtime reading and afternoon productivity and creativity?

Another habit I’ve developed is to always carry a book on me at all times. It’s amazing how much time you can have to read if you’re standing in a queue, waiting for an appointment, or other times you are forced to inactivity. This is much easier now with ebooks on your phone, but I still prefer a physical copy of a book. Regardless of the format, it’s surprising how many pages you can go through in these situations.

Lastly, I have actually stopped going to the cinema nearly as much as I used to in order to give myself more time to read. It’s pretty amazing how much time is wasted going to the cinema. You have to get there, queue up for tickets and food. Then there’s the film, and then the return journey home. A ninety-minute film can end up being a four or five-hour excursion. That’s an incredible piece of time for an experience that is all too often a bit of a disappointment these days.

These are just some of my experiences in making time for a pastime I love. I have gone from reading a mere two or three books a year to between eighteen and twenty. A far cry from my two a day pace as a youth, but still enough satisfy my needs. For now. At the moment, the only way I could read more, I think, is if someone would like to give me a job reading for pleasure. Until that happens I’ll work on carving out a little more time each day to give to reading. I know it’s worth the effort.

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