I almost don’t need to ask this question, because I probably know the answer, but here it goes. Are you busy? Do you have about a million tasks, objectives, and action items standing between you and the goals you want to accomplish in 2018? Me too! So I thought to start off the year I’d help us all (myself included) get back to the basics of making a reading goal work. Up first? Time.
This first installation is all about time because I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what time management in my life should look like this year. At church yesterday, my pastor said “All good things take time, but we live in a world that doesn’t have time.” He was talking about seeing the fruit of your work in the kingdom, but I think it applies pretty well to our personal goals, too. I know I’m guilty of wanting to see the payoff of all my endeavors immediately, and it just doesn’t work that way.
So today I’m going to look at how we can both find time and make time in our lives for reading. I hear people say those two phrases all the time–sometimes interchangeably, it seems. But I think there’s a subtle difference between the two, and whether you choose to find time or make time for your reading, I have some thoughts and suggestions to help you along the way!
So what’s the difference between finding time and making time? I think that finding time for our goals is important when we’re busy with other things–so busy that unless we find bits of time that already exist in our schedules, we wouldn’t have a chance of accomplishing the goal. Making time, on the other hand, involves purposefully placing your goal at the top of your list of priorities and organizing other things in your schedule around that goal.
I’ll admit that the distinction is so fine that even as I was writing this post I doubted my own definitions. Upon further reflection, though, I think the idea is sound. Whether you need to make time or find time for a goal depends on what season of life you’re in. I am just now leaving a season where graduate school and working full time took up just about all of my brain space. I was lucky to find ten minutes anywhere in my day. Now that I’ve graduated, I’m finding that I have more down time, which means I’m more tempted to spend it watching Netflix than working towards my personal goals. I’m entering a season of making time.
The biggest secret of today’s post is that neither of these approaches is wrong. It’s easy to think that if you only find time you’re somehow less committed to a goal than those who make time. Not true! In my opinion, anyone who is actively working towards a goal is already succeeding. And finding time can be a great way to meet those goals. Last year, when I had to find time to read, I read 54 books–which is the first time since 2012 that I’ve ever read more than 50 books.
So today I’ve got reading tips for you no matter where you find yourself. If you’re so busy that writing your to-do list feels more like writing a novel, maybe you need to focus on finding empty space in your day to read. If you’ve got an ambitious reading goal that’s at the top of your priority list, maybe you need to make yourself a schedule. Either way, here are three tips for finding and three tips for making time to read.
Finding Time to Read
- Bring a book everywhere. Keep one in your purse, your backpack, your car. Keep your tablet or e-reader loaded with options. You’ll be surprised at how often you have to wait–in lines, in doctor’s offices, before meetings, in parking lots, on the bus, on a train, on a plane–and when you have a book, that wasted time becomes purposeful.
- Maximize driving time. Do this by subscribing to Audible or using your public library’s audiobook program. I can’t listen to books on my way to work because I need the time to prepare for the day, but on the way home from work it’s audiobooks all the way! This is also useful for other tasks where your hands are busy but your mind is not–cleaning, gardening, using the elliptical machine, folding laundry–why not read while you work?
- Squeeze reading into your routines. Find little empty moments in routines you have already established–think about your morning and evening rituals. You could put an exciting book next to your alarm clock and promise to only read if you get up on time in the morning (Just be sure it’s not so exciting that you’re late for work!). Keep a book next to the coffee pot and peruse it while the percolator does its thing. Or you could keep a book by your bed and read for five minutes before you sleep. You might not even finish a chapter, but at least you’ve found some time!
Making Time to Read
- Pick an evening to go TV free. Choose one night a week where there’s nothing on television and commit to spending that night reading instead of flipping channels. Please note that I’m definitely NOT advising you to skip your favorite shows–we all need to sit and cry over This is Us every now and then. 🙂
- Work the weekends. Create space on Saturdays to read for an hour. Once every few months, set aside an entire day to read a book from start to finish. Get up early on Sunday and read before church, or commit to reading a chapter or two before your Sunday nap! There are lots of ways to make the weekend time work for you.
- Stick to a schedule. Make yourself an actual reading schedule of when you’d like to have certain books finished. If you’re overwhelmed by a long book, divide up the chapters over a certain number of days and use sticky notes to mark off the pages. Then stick to your plan!
But most of all…
Make sure that you’re enjoying the process! Too many goals, schedules, and plans can make all of this feel like work, and reading is supposed to encourage, challenge, and rejuvenate you. Choose books you love, abandon those you don’t, and let the goal be a motivating tool, not a source of anxiety. If you don’t reach it, who cares? There’s always next year.
I’ll be back on Thursday with a new book review for you, and be sure to check back next Monday, when I’ll share the second post in this Back to Basics series: Making Sense.
Until then, Keep Reading!