Do you want to have a good laugh? Tell people that you plan to read 100 books this year and then watch their expressions.
When I created my Read 100 Challenge the January of 2015, I was so excited about it that I began to tell everybody. My family. My Facebook friends. My students. My church family. That mom at the playground. You get the idea. I couldn’t wait to start reading 100 books!
But, most people thought I was crazy.
“100 books? Are you going to sleep?” “That’s like two books a week. You know that, right?” “I’m not sure I’ve read 100 books in my entire life.”
The most common question that I got? How do you find the time to read?
And, I get that. People are busy. I am busy. I am married to a husband whom I madly love and want to spend time with. I have three small children who deserve (and receive!) a lot of my attention. I teach middle schoolers full-time. I am the church school coordinator in our parish. I am the English department chair. I blog. I understand busy.
But, I did read 100 books that year. And, I read over 70 last year. And, I will read over 100 this year.
So, how do I find time to read?
How I Find Time to Read
1. Make It A Priority
Ever since I read Laura Vandkerkam’s book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, I have realized that I don’t have a time problem. I have a priority problem. I will spend time on what I make a priority. If you want to know what is important to you, track how you spend the next twenty-four hours. Or, better yet, the next week.
Ideally, we should spend the most time on activities that fall in line with our priorities. My priorities are faith, family, career, and self-improvement. So, I try to make sure that, over the course of the week, I spend most of my time focusing on those priorities. I pray, read my Bible or spiritual books, and go to Church. I read with my kids, have date nights with my husband, and call my parents. I make lesson plans, read professional books, and foster relationships with my students. And, I read, write, and exercise.
These activities fill my days with purpose because they line up with my priorities.
Reading is one of my priorities since I firmly believe that it makes me a better Christian, a better wife and mother, a better friend, a better teacher, and a better person. And so, I make time for it.
2. Have Several Books Going At Once
As counterintuitive as it may sound, I have found that I read a lot more if I have several books going at once. I typically have an adult nonfiction book and a spiritual book at home. I keep a young adult fiction book at school, and I have an audiobook for the car.
When I have a few different books to choose from, I can almost always find one that fits my current mood or time constraint. In the past I would try to stick with one book at a time, but I would find myself getting stuck in the middle of it and wanting to put it aside for awhile. Now, if I need a break from one book (if it is a little deep, depressing, slow, or just not in line with my current mood), I have another one that I can pick up.
3. Embrace the Audiobook
I have only recently begun listening to audiobooks, and I don’t know why I waited so long! I usually check out a book on CD from my favorite place–the library! Listening to my audiobooks on my commute is now one of the highlights of my day.
I am quite old school and don’t have a Kindle, Nook, or even a Smartphone. So, I don’t listen to any audiobooks that way, but I know that many people love to listen to books while they clean, cook, or travel. Maybe some day I’ll enter the twenty-first century!
4. Keep a Book in Your Purse
I may be the only person in the world who likes waiting at the doctor’s office. Why? I get to pull my book out of my purse and read for awhile.
You would be surprised how many small, stolen moments you can find throughout the day to read if you just keep a book nearby. Waiting for a meeting to start, sitting at a child’s practice, waiting on a friend to arrive for a coffee date, and the list goes on.
5. Create a Goal
When I have a goal to work toward, I am more likely to work harder and with greater intensity. This holds true for reading. For the past few years, I have created yearly goals for myself. At least one of these is always a reading goal. I have read all of the Newbery Award winners, the Virginia Reader’s Choice books, am working on the Top 100 Novels of all time, and now am in the middle of my Read 100 Challenge.
If you’re new to goal-setting when it comes to reading, I’d suggest starting with something that you love. Did you enjoy Pride and Prejudice? Make it a goal to read all of Jane Austen’s works. Do you like mysteries? Challenge yourself to read one mystery each month by a different author.
6. Always Have Your Next Read Planned
I have become very familiar with my library’s website for this reason: I can easily put books on hold or add them to my “Books to Read List.” Whenever I hear of a book I would like to read, I immediately go to the library website, search the catalog for the book, and then either put it on hold or add it to my list. Super simple, but it ensures that I always have a book or two to read as soon as I am finished with my current read.
As George R.R. Martin said, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads, lives only once.”
What tips do you have? How do you find time to read?