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How to Read More Books When You Have Limited Time


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Are you reading books as much as you’d like to? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. Among the 2,000 participants surveyed by The Reading Agency, 67% confessed that they’d like to read more, but 48% claimed they didn’t have enough time. How do we squeeze reading into our schedules, when we have work, errands, friends, and families to attend to?

Or perhaps the only fiction we consume these days are the lies we tell ourselves. More often than not, we do have time to read, but it’s a challenge to make it a priority, especially when distractions like social media and the internet are a lot easier to consume. Fortunately, it’s possible to work reading back into your daily routine while still staying on top of any important obligations.

How to Read More Books When You Have Limited Time

Woman sat on floor with notebook, coffee and stack of books trying to figure out how to read more books.

Work reading into your schedule

Pay attention to how you spend your time and see if there are any activities you can swap out for a good reading session. You might find that you spend time on things you don’t actually prioritise.

For example, the average UK user spends one hour and 42 minutes a day browsing social media. If you work a nine-to-five job, these habits might leave you with just two to three waking hours in a day, which you’ll probably need to spend on other obligations. While it can be fun to stay connected, a lot of times our overexposure to instant digital content can leave us frustrated and drained. So instead of mindlessly scrolling your feed, consider flipping through a book’s pages mindfully.

Carry a book everywhere

In our day-to-day routines, we might find ourselves in transition periods, where there’s not much to do other than wait for the next thing to happen. Think of your commutes, breaks between classes, or appointment waiting periods.

If you carry a book with you wherever you go, you can entertain yourself whenever unexpected downtime comes along. For example, if you found yourself stuck in traffic in your commute, stave off the restless frustration by taking out a book to read.

aesthetic book stack flatlay

Start with small realistic reading goals

Intimidated by length? There’s no rule that says you have to sustain unmitigated focus whenever you start a book. You can break up a long read into several, smaller chunks.

You can even decide on a number of pages or chapters to read every day. This way, you get a sense of accomplishment whenever you complete a day’s reading goal. You might even feel motivated to stretch your goals a little further, allowing you to dedicate more time to reading each day.

Find audio options

If you want a more passive reading experience, you can try looking for works that come in digital audio form, such as audiobooks and podcasts. A great thing about audiobooks is that you can listen to them while doing something else. You can have a narrator read a story out to you as you perform the mundane tasks that make up your daily routine. For instance, you can listen to an audiobook while driving or as you go for a run in the park.

On the more cost-effective end, you have podcasts. Magazines such as The Paris Review and The New Yorker make their short stories available in podcast form. Some even have authors themselves narrate stories they’ve written. Most podcasts are also free, so you won’t find many long-form works in this medium.

Read what you love

The best way to motivate yourself to read is to simply read what you like. The act of reading is all too often associated with highbrow pretensions, which pressures us to limit our consumption to what society considers impressive, even if we don’t enjoy it. There’s nothing wrong with reading pulpy action, a cheesy romance, or even fan fiction. Anything that stretches your imagination is good for the mind!

More often than not, being too busy to read is less a matter of time and more a matter of priorities. If you want to commit to being a better reader, all you have to do is make time.

I hope these tips on how to read more books were helpful. Best of luck with your reading goals!

All the best,

- Emily

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