How to Squeeze More Time to Read Into Your Day

reading book

Squeeze More Time to Read Into Your Day

If I had to take an unofficial survey of New Year’s Resolutions, the goal to “read more” and “exercise/get in shape/some variant on this idea” would certainly be in the top two. Who wouldn’t want to work our their body and their brain?

Finding time to read can seem impossible (I should know; as a teacher with 4 classes to prep for, a play to direct, a blog and editing business to run, a book club to manage, and [some semblance] of a life to live, reading time is precious. Really, though, what is this magic “free time” you speak of?) The sad reality of our busy lives is that reading often takes a backseat. If I don’t explicitly schedule time to read, it will never happen.

Time to read doesn’t have to mean sitting down every Saturday to a 4-hour block reading marathon (though, I did just that for National Readathon Day last week, and it was truly glorious!). There’s no Rule From the All-Powerful Universe that says you have to devour whole novels at a time. You’d be surprised at how quickly a page here or a chapter there adds up!

So how exactly can you squeeze reading into your already tightly-packed day?

Make it a habit // Sometimes all it takes is creating a routine. Whether you decide to spend Sunday mornings curled up with a cup of coffee and 30 minutes of a good book, or opt to read one chapter each night before bed, making a habit of reading will easily make it an integral part of your day. It doesn’t matter when you read, just make sure that it works for you.

Seize the (little) moments // I can pop a bag of popcorn in 2-3 minutes. You know what else I can do in 2-3 minutes? Read a few pages of a book! I bet if you spent one day taking inventory of your time, you could find plenty of little unused pockets. Waiting for 30 pages to print out at the copy machine? Read. Waiting for your pork chops to broil? Read. Waiting for the barista to ready your latte? Read!

Always carry a book // Once upon a time, I won a party game at a bridal shower for having the most crap in my purse. True story. One of the winning items? A book. I’ve always tended to carry a purse that’s on the larger side so that I can stash a book in case of spare time. With the advent of e-readers and ease of storing your books in the Cloud, you can literally read anywhere. Keep a book on you (or at your office, in your car, wherever!) so that you’re never caught unawares.

Show up early // You know what’s great about carrying a book around with you all the time? If you show up to an appointment early, you’ve got automatic quality reading time! Most doctors’ offices have you waiting a good while regardless, but try showing up to your next hair appointment, or car inspection, or movie showing a few minutes early. If they can take you early; great. If not, pull out that book of yours! It’s a win-win situation.

What are your tips for squeezing reading time into your day?

  • These are such great ideas! Reading is a habit of mine; I read in bed every night. I’m also experimenting with listening to audio books during my commute and while I exercise or do chores.

    • I still have to tackle audiobooks, but I’ve heard such wonderful things. Can’t argue with how convenient they are and how much they probably liven up a commute!

      • I read faster than an audiobook can read to me… I need them to hurry up and read faster, so I just get annoyed and get the paper book too… But they are good for commutes and “boring” tasks!

  • Kay

    I definitely agree about using those little moments to read a few pages here and there – it really does add up!

  • Gillian

    I watch television live so I can read during commercials.

    • Yes! One of the reasons why I hate watching DVR’ed shows – I feel obligated to FF through the commercials which means no time to read!

  • thedailymiacis

    I loved to read since children, but when I went to the university I totally stoped reading. Until I got a home that I had to take the subway everyday, a 30-40 min trip, so how did I spent my time? Reading, a lot 🙂 It would reduce the time so much. And for example, I make it like a ritual, everyday when I’m already in bed I read to make myself sleepy, and I read like two pages or more, it depends on the days 🙂

    • Reading is one of the best parts about long commutes! And a before bed ritual is the best kind 🙂

  • I’m always early, so it’s a great idea to read a little bit beforehand! How did I not think of that? I usually peruse Instagram or Twitter instead. Reading would be so much better!

    • Twitter/IG are so tempting though. But I try to read before I even get out of bed first, and save the social media for when I’m eating breakfast.

  • Jocelyn (@ReadingRes)

    I do think you’re right about making it a habit, and I’d say always have a big reading pile ready and raring to go, so you’ve something there to pick up when the urge takes you to read. I tend to read every evening, if TV’s useless, and then when I go to bed. It is a habit, and I really look forward to my book every day!

    • Having books on hand makes reading a much easier and convenient thing to do. I know I’ve got no shortage of books in my TBR pile, but sometimes it’s hard to pick which one to read next!

  • I really do believe in tip number three and feel frustrated with myself when I don’t remember to do this. It so reminds me of Rory Gilmore. Great post!!!

    • Phones and reading apps have helped a lot in this regard, I think, too. If I ever have unexpected reading time or forgot my book, I can just pull up something on my phone!

  • Love this post. One of the keys when I realized I was depressed a few years ago was when someone asked the question, “What have you read lately?” and I didn’t have an answer– reading is SO much a part of my every day life.

    Having a book with me at all times is one of the main reasons I invested in a Kindle. I can have multiple books with me at all times and I don’t have to have a crazy heavy purse!

    My best friend actually brought a book with her to our senior prom. She was afraid she would get bored, so she just took a book. 😛

    I will usually sacrifice some sleep in order to read every day. My husband has grown accustomed to sleeping with my bedside light on, because I can’t sleep without reading anything. It calms my mind.

    • Reading is such a comforting, calming, constant for me too, that I love hearing stories about how much it means to other people! Go you for making it fit into your life!
      (I spent the lead-up to prom reading books; everyone else got their hair done and I have a lovely photo immortalizing me lounging around in my dress, reading, haha)

  • One of the reasons I originally bought a kindle was to read more. I have a few books on the go at the same time and fitting even two into a bag (yep, my man bag) took up too much space so kindle is great for that and I also micro-read, grabbing a few minutes here and there. Great post (o:

    • Thank you! Micro-read sessions are great, and I’m a fan of the Kindle if only for just that purpose. It’s a lot easier than carrying around a book (or two!), even though I still do sometimes too. Let’s just call it…dedication!

  • This is a great post. My trick is to try to read at least 10 pages a day before I go to bed. I think giving myself such a doable goal makes it easier.

    • 10 pages is such a great, manageable goal! I was just thinking of the latest book I’m reading in terms of 10-page increments to see how long it’d take me to read, and really, you can realistically read an average-size novel in a month (take that people who never read books! :D)

  • smbrink

    Like you, I am a fan of carrying a purse big enough to fit a book inside. It is SUCH a lifesaver when I’m waiting around for an appointment to start, a friend to show up to a meeting spot, etc. Love this whole list!

    • It is! I’m glad you enjoyed it 😀