When I tell people that I write book reviews one of the things I hear most often is: ‘I LOVE reading, I just don’t have the time.’ I get it. We live in the age of busy. However, there are plenty of ways to free up a little extra room in your life for books. Here are my favourite…
Have a book on the go
When you finish a book, start the next one right away—even if you only read the first few pages. Once you’re hooked, you’ve got a reason to go back. If you don’t have a book on the go, you’re more likely to do something else with your free time.
To make it easier to find that next great read, keep a list of titles on hand. I have the Goodreads app on my phone and add titles to my ‘Want to Read’ shelf when I hear good recommendations. That way, I’ve always got a long and diverse list of titles waiting and can usually find something to suit my mood.
Watch less TV
I know what you’re thinking: ‘But I hardly watch TV.’ Really, my friend? You might be surprised. Log your viewing for a week. I dare you. It probably adds up to more than you think. Just watching one episode less per day would free up almost seven hours each week—that’s enough time to read an entire book right there!
Cut down on social media trawling
Here’s a sobering stat for you: according to the 2016 Sensis Social Media Report, Australians spend an average 12.5 hours per week on Facebook. That’s HUGE!! …And depressing. Add to that Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest and whatever other apps you use and you’re looking at a massive chunk of time that could be spent reading, even if you only cut down a little.
If you struggle to switch off, there are plenty of apps out there to help you track, limit and even block your social media use. The Huffington Post recommends a few to get you started.
Catch public transport
If you usually drive to work, catching the bus, train, tram or ferry instead is a great way to free up time for reading that you’d otherwise spend stuck in traffic.
Admittedly audiobook aren’t for everyone (I struggle to pay attention). However, for many, they’re a great way to get some reading done at times when our hands are busy but our minds are not. You can listen when you’re in the car, walking the dog, doing house work, cooking, gardening or getting around under your own steam. I have friends who even listen to audiobooks at the gym!
Ditch the duds
If a book doesn’t grab you, find another one. I used to make a point of finishing every book I started; I felt I owed it to the author. But it’s hard to find the motivation to persist with a book you’re not invested in. As a general rule if I haven’t found enough to hold my interest in the first 50 pages, I move on.
Join a book club
There’s a lot to love about book clubs. For a start, being part of a book club gives you a deadline to read to and encourages you to think critically about what you’re reading.
I’ve been part of a few book clubs in the past, and the best ones are those that draw together people with diverse interests and experiences (office book clubs can be great for this). Instead of meeting at people’s houses, I also recommend trying a different bar or restaurant each time—it’s a great way to discover your city’s hidden culinary gems.
Go to bed/get up earlier
When we do make time for reading, it’s often those few minutes between getting into bed and falling asleep. Most of the time we’re tired and don’t get further than a few paragraphs before losing focus. Try getting cuddled up under the covers with your book half an hour or even just fifteen minutes earlier than your regular bedtime.
On the weekends, set your alarm an hour earlier, make yourself a pot of coffee and read in bed. It’s a relaxing way to take a little time for yourself after a big week, and also a time when (unless you have small children) people aren’t likely to bug you.
Keep a book in your bag
No matter how busy we are, we often encounter small pockets of ‘dead time’ throughout the day: the bus is late, a meeting gets pushed back, or you’re kept waiting for the doctor, a friend, your kids, or your foils to set at the hairdresser. Instead of reaching for your phone to check your email or Instagram, pull out your book instead.
Read in the bath
In our digital age, the bath remains one of the last bastions of privacy. If you are lucky enough to have a sud tub, make use of that bad boy. Even if it’s just once a week, set aside time for a good, long soak. Leave your phone out of reach, go nuts with the bubble bath, put on one of those cleansing face masks and read until the water turns cold.
Over to you
Do you wish you had more hours in the day to devote to books?
What tricks do you use to maximise your reading time?