No time to read? Learn how to find time for reading when you’re busy with these practical tips anyone can apply to quickly and easily become a better reader.
The #1 problem readers of The Literary Lifestyle struggle with is how to find more time to read, and the #1 question I get asked is how to fit in more reading. I especially hear from busy students and moms finding it hard to make time to read in college or with a newborn. I hear you, and I’ve got you covered in this post!
I was once a law student reading dense casebooks to the point my brain felt fried. During that time in my life, I only read books for pleasure during school breaks. So, I totally understand that real life can make it tough to even start reading, let alone consume several books per year.
Since that time, however, I have learned many great strategies as to how to find time to read books, and I have consistently read over 100+ books per year over the last several years, eventually becoming a full-time book blogger.
And during that time in my life, I also balanced a very busy schedule, including working at my full-time job, blogging part-time and, for the last several months before I became a full-time blogger, moving, which involved buying a house, selling a house, and renovating both.
I was so busy at times that I simply could not make time to read unless I mastered time management techniques, which I will now share with you below so you too can find time for reading.
But first I want to note, whether you’re struggling as a student, as a mom, or as a busy person in general, there’s an underlying premise to my personal best tips for how to find time to read:
I’ve always believed there are times in our lives when the balance is so hard that we just need to get through the day, and that these are the times when you especially shouldn’t beat yourself up for struggling to find reading time. If you simply make it through, you won that day.
But then, there are other times when you know you can work on the balance, but you just need a little push in the right direction or the momentum to incorporate reading. Those are the times in which I am here to help you learn how to make time to read.
How to Find Time for Reading
How do busy people find time to read?
Below are my top ten hacks for how to read more often.
Know your “why.”
First and foremost, why do you want to read more? Motivations drive behavior. Your “why” is something you can keep in mind and remind yourself of every time you find yourself struggling.
Perhaps you want to learn a new skill, relax in a way that doesn’t involve screen time, obtain the benefits of reading (like improving your critical thinking), become successful by engaging in a common hobby of successful people, or experience the original story behind your favorite movie adaptation.
Whatever it is, let that drive your decisions.
Set a reading goal and track it.
When I started setting goals and tracking them, I found myself reading so much more. There’s something so rewarding about having something to work towards, crossing it off your list, and feeling that sense of accomplishment.
When people are starting out and/or struggling, I always recommend that you start small. Perhaps your goal can be to read just one book or to read for just a small amount of minutes per day. Sometimes, it can feel like we don’t have a lot of time to accomplish a larger task, but when you break it down to just a few pages per day, it can feel that much more accessible.
Believe it or not, this concept is exactly how I started this website, which is now my full-time job. I told myself I was committed to doing just one thing in furtherance of my goal per day and two things happened: first, I usually got momentum and did more than one thing and, second, my efforts compounded faster than I could have imagined.
I also like set a goal for each reading session. Yes, this is something I still do every single day! Each night, when I sit down to read, I look at both the clock and my book and set parameters for the amount of time/pages I would like to spend reading at that particular moment. This can help you account for the many different things that can impact your reading mood on any given day.
Schedule time for reading.
Scheduling time for reading can help you both make sure you do it when you’re in the moment of a busy day AND make a long-term reading habit that is a regular part of your routine. You can time block on your calendar or just keep in mind what the best time to read is for you.
I’m not a morning person, so I like to read at night as I’m falling asleep to allow myself to unwind. As soon as my husband goes upstairs to bed, I now instinctively know that it’s time for my reading session to begin. That’s what you call a good reading habit!
I also know a lot of people who read during their lunch break at work, particularly if they eat alone.
Take advantage of unexpected free time.
One of my absolute favorite ways to make time for reading is to take advantage of those little moments of boredom that somehow creep their way into all of our lives, like waiting in line or getting delayed somewhere.
On this note, if you really want to read more books, you should always have a book on hand! It can be physical, digital, or audio, as long as it’s always accessible to you to read even a little bit during these unexpected moments.
It can even be a book that you tackle slowly over time during only these times. Call it your “free time” book!
Want to know the real secret to how to read more in less time? Multitask. I don’t mean to hustle to the point your head feels like it’s going to spin off of your body. Like the last point, I simply mean to take advantage of those moments in which you are technically busy but your brain isn’t doing too much, like cleaning, folding laundry, working out, or commuting.
I multitask my reading every single day, usually by way of audio books. This actually probably accounts for well over half of my reading. It keeps my brain stimulated and helps me check so many books off my reading bucket list that I simply wouldn’t have the time to read otherwise.
Read what you love.
Many people struggle to read more simply because they aren’t reading the right book. The wrong book at the right time can really make you feel stuck.
If you don’t know what to read, I like to recommend thinking about what authors, tropes, and books you liked best in the past, then basically trying to duplicate the success by reading similar books, similar authors, or more from the same author.
It’s also important to consider timing. If you are extra stressed, a weighty classic may feel too daunting. Or if you are feeling the spirit of a particular season or place, perhaps you want a book with that setting.
Lastly, for goodness sake, if you are reading a book you do not like or simply cannot connect with at the moment, move on! Your time is precious, and reading shouldn’t feel like a chore (unless, of course, it’s required reading and you have no choice).
Set the mood.
I have found that setting the mood for reading makes me want to make more time for reading.
This can be super specific to each person, but by testing out different reading environments, I have found a few things that make reading more enjoyable for me, including reading music, ASMR rooms, and being in my own personal reading corner at home.
When these conditions are present, I’m a happier reader. And when I’m a happier reader, I read more. The same can also be true for you.
The truth of the matter is that we are all heavily distracted people, thanks very much in part to our cell phones. Take one look at your screen time for the week, and you may find yourself shocked. Much of this time was likely time you could have spent focusing on reading.
It’s also important to separate yourself physically from distractions when you can in order to spend more time reading. I’m personally guilty of thinking of something while I’m reading, then immediately picking up my phone to check it, look it up, etc.
Whether it’s your phone or something else (like a child or the tv), be mindful of what distracts your focus most while you are reading, then work on your own unique solutions to remove them during your time for reading, even if just for a few minutes at a time.
Make yourself accountable.
Accountability does wonders for us, both professionally and personally. Being accountable to someone or something bigger than yourself can make you feel especially responsible to accomplish it.
Find YOUR tribe and let them keep you going when the going gets tough!
Give yourself grace.
Last but not least, I firmly believe in giving yourself grace when it comes to your reading life. Nearly every day, I hear from readers who are being really hard on themselves for not making more time for reading. And, I honestly don’t think anyone should feel bad!
Reading is a practice, and a practice is something that’s not perfect.
Pick up the pieces when you can and start again. And be easy on yourself in the meantime!
Now you know how to make more time for reading.
Pin this post to Pinterest because you can refer back to it when you need that extra boost in your reading life.