How To Make Time For Reading

December 15, 2019

I made a declaration at this start of 2019. I proclaimed this was going to be The Year of Books! I left 2018 disenchanted with the online world and craved more time off screens. I desired the feeling of being engrossed in a story. Reading more wasn’t a new goal. Every year I make a New Year’s Intentions list, and this is always on there, but the difference with this year is I made it happen.

How did I make it happen? I shifted my priorities. Like with any new goal, you have to keep it front of mind and give yourself opportunities to achieve it. In year’s past, I would buy a new book and just hope that time would open up, and I would become an avid reader. Then the reality of raising two small children and running a business would sink in, and time would escape me.

Except had time escaped me? I was sometimes spending over 6 hours on my cell phone (gasp!), and a large chunk of it would be on social media. Sure, sometimes it’s for work, but mostly it was a bad habit. Easily twenty minutes would fly by, and I would look up from my phone in a daze wondering how I even ended up there. Those twenty minutes could have been a break to read.

“Let’s be reasonable and add an eighth day to the week that is devoted exclusively to reading.” – Lena Dunham

Also, finding the right books made a big difference for me. I get bored quickly, but I also love non-fiction. The combination of these two qualities means I read a lot of non-fiction at one time, but hardly finish them. It was wreaking havoc on my goal of actually finishing books. I started the year well and then felt stuck around April. I realized that I needed to add more fiction on my nightstand. Once I did that, I was able to read my non-fiction while also immersing myself in fiction.

Let’s break it down what worked for me into actionable steps:

Give Yourself A Challenge

Setting a challenge to read a certain number of books in a year (a lot of people choose 30 books) is hugely motivating. However, if you’re like me, actually picking a number can be a turn-off. I wanted to focus on quality and not quantity. I worried that if I focused on the amount, I would start to feel the pressure. I wanted this to be fun, but I also wanted the gratification of ticking off a goal. So I took some elements from a challenge and made it my own. I started a note on my phone with all the books I’d read and all the ones I wanted to read, and it gave me a satisfying feeling when I could add to my list and see what I’d accomplished. It took some of the pressure off, but still gave me all of the reward. Bottom line, you do you.

Read What Your Heart Desires

There are so many sites and magazines telling you about all the fantastic books you should read this year. Heck, we even tell you at Glitter Guide. While it’s terrific to have reviews and suggestions, it sometimes means you forget to read what you want. You’re reading list should be a non-judgment zone. I mentioned I like to read non-fiction, but I also like cheesy love stories, young adult fiction, and children’s books. Allow yourself to fall back in love with reading by picking whatever floats your boat. Don’t stress that you haven’t read anything that’s not a New York Times Bestseller.

Read All The Time

I’m not recommending you stay in your pajamas all day, skip out on work, and just cozy up with your books for the entire day (although that does sound appealing). I mean, try to find pockets of time throughout the day for you to read. Have books in all areas of your home, not just the nightstand. For many people, reading before bed doesn’t work. Maybe try setting your morning alarm for 30 minutes earlier than usual to head into the kitchen with a coffee and your book.  Keep your current book or kindle in your handbag. I don’t like reading on a Kindle because they hurt my eyes, and I feel like I need a break from screens, but I think it’s an excellent alternative. Keeping it with you gives you the chance to read a book while waiting in line or at an appointment instead of scrolling on your phone. I like to keep books in the bathroom (I know, TMI), but it’s a tried-and-true way to carve out a little time to read.

Set Limits

Boundaries are essential for productivity. To stay focused, I need to have limits. Just like I batch my emails and projects, I batch my reading. I can quickly get swept up in a book. I have to give myself a time limit. Usually, it’s an hour at night before bed and 15-minute increments throughout the day. I also set limits on my phone. I try not to look at my phone in the morning till after my kids go to school and not until after they go to bed at night. Often, I won’t even pick up my phone at night anymore and just grab one of my books.

Audio Books Count

I believe that Audiobooks count towards your reading list as do short-format books. My personal goal was to read more physical books, but I still listened to a lot, and I’m not going to leave those out. If you know that listening to an audiobook will work better for you, then do it. I love Audible, and I listen to it every day. I get a giddy feeling every time I have a new credit available in my Audible account.

Join A Bookclub

I struggle with book clubs, but I know they can be highly motivating. I’ve never joined one, only because if I have to read a book, I end up not wanting to read it. How did I ever get through school?! Although, after this year, I feel like I may be ready to leap. Joining a book club is a fun way to connect with other bookworms and discover new books. It’s also motivating and will hold you accountable. If you’re feeling shy, you could join an online book club. There are so many great alternatives out there. Maybe Glitter Guide should start one?

Read Used Books 

Ahhhh, the smell of old books. Since I don’t enjoy reading on a Kindle, I end up with a lot of physical books — which can get overwhelming and fill your home with clutter. Plus, it gets expensive fast. I love going to my local library. Libraries are quickly becoming my favorite place to hang out (I know, I’m such a grandma). I can walk to mine, and I’m able to find new books to read, and it costs me nothing. It’s amazing. My kids love it even more than me. I also live near a used bookstore. It’s pretty magical, and I will cry if they ever close down. If you have these options near you, I highly recommend them.

I also wanted to recommend the website Girls at Library — It’s an online journal with literary interviews,  recommendations, and essays. It’s a great resource and comes from such a diverse group of amazing women. I also love following Books Are Magic for their recommendations.

Read my favorite books of 2019 on Glitter Guide.

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Photos were taken at one of my favorite bookstores in San Francisco: Black Bird Bookstore