Squeezing Precious Reading Time into the Chaos of Life

November 5, 2010

I felt like an elaborate title today.

So: reading for pleasure. It’s one of my major joys in life, and if you’re reading this right now, I’m going to assume it’s one of yours, too. Unfortunately, life tends to get in the way. Deadlines approach with the inevitability of a runaway train, the laundry needs to be done, food eventually cooked and eaten… and when you’ve actually ticked everything off your “To-Do List” you’re so tired you just want to collapse into bed and sleep as long and deeply as possible without being dead.

Yeah. I miss reading.

So many books, so little time...

My “To Be Read” pile is now so large, I could mix some mortar and make a fine extension to my home. Then there’s a quotation from Stephen King’s On Writing that gets me every time:

“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.”

Clearly, creativity is key in carving out those chunks of fiction time. Here are some strategies I’ve come up with:

1. Think small

There are plenty of times throughout the day when you have to wait for something. Usually not long, just a few minutes. It occurred to me I tend to listen to my iPod during those times… but why not read? For the past couple days, I’ve been carrying a book with me wherever I go (Geist, at the moment), and making surprising progress from snatches on the subway, while waiting for people, and before class starts. It adds up quickly.

2. See what else you’re doing

TV is fun. The Internet is fun. But books are fun too. Endlessly clicking the next YouTube video does tend to wear thin after a while. It’s about balance, I suppose, and just being aware that you often have more time than you think.

3. It doesn’t have to be a “book,” per se…

I’ve mentioned before how much I like podcast novels. For me, it’s a great way to walk down the street and enjoying a story without worrying about running into a person (or a car). Same thing goes for books on tape. I walk most places anyway; that’s a lot of time to listen to novels and short stories, many of which also exist in print versions.

4. Make it a priority

Everyone needs downtime. Even if it’s just 15 minutes before bed, if you schedule it and plan around it, chances are you’ll be able to do it. Somehow, we tend to find time for the things we really, really want to do… shouldn’t reading be one of them?


5. Drink a few litres of coffee around 9:00 pm…

Or not. It’s up to you.

And with that, I’m off to read!



One comment

  1. I love reading in bed before going to sleep. I just close the book and turn out the light as soon as I get too drowsy to read.

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