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How to Find More Time to Read — Even When Life is Busy

How to Find More Time to Read

When I recently shared about my top 10 reads for 2015, I received many questions about how I possibly found time to read 74 books last year. I’ve blogged about this in the past, but I thought it would be a good refresher to share about this again, since so many people keep emailing in, tweeting, and commenting about it.

I am such a fan of reading, because of how it has impacted and changed my life. I am a different person because of the books I have read. It causes me to think, challenges my mind, helps me understand other perspectives better, and transfers me to different worlds to give me a break from everyday life.

I am a wife, homeschooling mom, and business owner. Yes, life is full, but reading is such an important part of my life that I make sure it’s a priority for me each and every week. I personally think everyone should and can try to find time to read.

How to Find More Time to Read

Here are my suggestions for how to find more time to read, even when life is busy:

1. Set goals for your reading.

“We arrange time for what we think is truly important.” -Gladys Hunt, author of Honey From a Woman’s Heart

You can’t just say, “I want to read more” and expect it to happen. If you don’t come up with a plan of how to make it happen, it will stay in the want category and never move over to the do category.

I know many of you are overwhelmed at the thought of setting goals, but if you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? When you set a specific goal for reading, you’re committing to make reading more of a priority in your life.

Think about how many books you’d realistically like to read. Only think about yourself, and don’t compare yourself to others when setting your reading goal. Set a goal that you know you can reach. Maybe it will be one chapter a week or one book each month.

How to Find More Time to Read

Once you decide how many books you want to read this year, break that down and figure out how much you need to read each day to meet your goal. Then make that a daily habit of a specified amount of time or number of pages/chapters.

Decide when and how you will accomplish this each day. Will you read for 10 minutes before bed? First thing in the morning? During a work break? Do what works for you and your season of life.

You can get really creative with this, too! Consider audiobooks as a great alternative to enable you to read and multitask. You can listen to audiobooks in the car, while you’re running on the treadmill, or while you’re doing dishes.

Or maybe you’ll focus on reading aloud to your kids every night before bed. You could even have family reading time for a set amount of time each evening. Put together a book basket with everyone’s book in it, and decide to sit down as a family each night after dinner. Figure out a creative way to make it a part of your life!

Personally, I try to block out at least a little time every morning soon after I get up for reading and then block out 3-4 hours each Sunday to relax and get lost in a book. In my head, it’s blocked out as a priority each Sunday when I’m at home. It’s really important for me to take time to refresh myself, and reading is something I absolutely love. If I set aside specific times to read in my life, I know I will get through quite a few books by doing that.
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2. Read books that interest you.

If you’re trying to make reading more of a habit, then it’s important to start out with books that interest you. This will help you make reading more of a habit from the get-go. You want to look forward to reading!

Yes, reading is designed to help you grow, improve, and be challenged. If you’re trying to develop the habit of reading more, though, it’s so important to read books you love and don’t want to put down. Once it becomes a regular habit, then you can shift to more challenging and thought-provoking books.

I like to have multiple books going at once — usually no more than 3. This actually helps me read more books, because I really like having a variety of books to choose from when I have time to read, depending on what mood I’m in.

Maybe you’re more of a one-book-at-a-time kind of person. Regardless, I recommend always having a book handy.

Stick a book in your purse when you leave the house, because you never know if you’ll have a chance to read. You may get stuck in line at carpool, have to wait at the doctor’s office, and countless other scenarios.

If you don’t want to carry a physical book around, have one eBook on your phone that you can read on-the-go. We post free eBooks almost every day, and it’s a great way to make sure you always have a book handy.

How to Find More Time to Read

When considering what you’ll read, use the KonMari method of which books spark joy in you, and most importantly, give yourself permission to stop reading a book if you don’t like it. If you don’t like it or it’s not for you, simply put it down without guilt.

I used to always feel like I should finish a book if it was a classic or it was recommended by multiple people, but there are far too many other books in the world to stick to a book to the end just because. Give yourself the freedom to do that so that you can focus on reading books you enjoy.

3. Get some accountability.

Accountability is such an important part of goal-setting. Find a way to get accountability for your reading goals!

Join a book club, track it online, or read through a book with a friend. Reading through a book with a friend is a safe and fun way to foster a relationship as an Introvert. Post on your blog or on social media.

In addition to blogging through books here, I also love keeping a record of all the books I’ve read on Pinterest. It encourages me and keeps me accountable. You can see my lists of books read over the past few years for 2013, 2014, and 2015. Some people really enjoy using the GoodReads app, too. Find what works best for you!

I would love to hear from you! How do you find time to read more? What are your secrets?

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  • My secret to reading more is that I cheat and listen to audio books! I do enjoy sitting down to read, but I can listen to audio books at work and while I’m doing chores around the house, so I can fit in a lot more books.

    Our library lets you log in to an app called Overdrive with your library card number and you can rent ebooks and audio books for free and listen to them on any device. And once the lending period is over, you lose access to that book automatically so it’s impossible to get late fees! They have a huge selection of books. We’ve told so many people about this part of the library – most people don’t know they offer it!

  • Amen to everything you said! Setting reading goals has been huge for me. Last year I set the crazy audacious goal of reading 100 books and hit it in November. This year I’m hosting a reading challenge on my blog and am having so much fun reading for the month ahead so that I can recommend great titles to my readers. Knowing that they will be waiting for me to share my pics with them gives instant accountability!

  • Dawn Camp says:

    I love the idea of blocking off time on Sunday afternoon. I don’t seem to have nearly as much time to read as I used to, but you’re right, it takes intention to make it h happen.

    I’m so happy you contributed to my new book, The Gift of Friendship! It’s an easy one for someone who likes to read more than one book at a time. You should receive it in the mail soon!

  • I’m a big goal setting, but sometimes can overextend myself. I love how you said to set REALISTIC goals. In the past, I’ve aimed at reading more books than I really have time for and when I fail, I get really down on myself. Now that I’m setting goals I can actually achieve, I’m accomplishing my reading goals.

    While 2 books a month doesn’t seem like much to some, it’s awesome for me in my season of life! And if there are some months that I read 3 or 4 books, then those months I feel even more accomplished! 🙂

  • I’ve always been impressed with how many books you read! I love reading, too, but I read magazines, as well as books, so I don’t get through nearly as many as you do.

    One of my goals for 2016 is to read 24 books. Last year’s goal was 15, and I read 18.

  • Ashley says:

    This is the bicentennial year for Indiana, and our library has set out a program encouraging everyone to read 200 books this year. The staff picked out a long list of books that were timeless classics or important to IN history from the adult and children’s section. When you turn in your reading log every three months, you are entered into a drawing for a prize. (Children’s books count even for the adults, which is nice as a homeschooling mom!) I have found that having the program as a goal has helped me do more reading and read some different types of books than I would have normally picked.

  • Denise says:

    I love the goodreads app! I read really fast so it isn’t as hard for me to read a lot of books but unlike you I have to do one book at a time. Sometimes I can read a non-fiction at the same time as a fiction but I don’t like to. But the hard thing for me is I read really fast so I prefer to read a whole book in one sitting and struggle to read in the evenings and close the book to go to bed instead of staying up to finish!

  • Joanne Peterson says:

    I take a book with me everywhere, and even if I only have a few minutes, I still read. I may have to reread some if it is only 5 minutes, and not a block, but I also figure for some of the impotent content, reading more than once will help it stay in my brain.

  • Colleen Montrenes says:

    I guess I’m a over achiever. My goal is 150 books this year. I find time during breaks and lunch at work and before I go to bed. I already read 7 to 10 books a month now so this is a do able. I’m not a stay at home mom. Work 40+ hrs a week, home school a 7th grader, and a active church member and youth group helper. I’m on goal so far. I just love to read.

  • Brittany says:

    Ohhhhh so this includes audiobooks that you’ve “read”- that makes more sense now!
    Thanks for the tips!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I’m with Christine…I use Overdrive to check out audio and kindle books through our library and LOVE it!

    One way I sneak more books in is by listening to business and personal development books on the drive to preschool! Those don’t hold my interest when I’m holding a book, but I get so much out of listening to them! I also read my kindle books on my phone while I’m sitting with my kiddos waiting for them to fall asleep.

    I love Crystal’s 2nd point about picking what you like, not just what you think you should read! I have a mix going at all times…everything from heavy, thought-provoking stuff, to fluffy romance stuff. If you really have trouble finding time, it might be because you’re not excited enough about what you’re reading! I’ve found that some books are a lot easier to get through in audio format!

  • Nadine says:

    Thanks for this post Crystal, it is very encouraging. Only just a few months ago, did I begin reading books for me. I homeschool and so I read a lot of books to my girls. But I don’t actually take the time for reading for myself. A few months ago, I began reading for me. Your post has inspired me to organise exactly what it is I want to read, rather than just haphazardly reading what book I find. I have committed to the Back to the Classics Challenge where I will be reading several classics, but there are so many more books I want to and am reading. I did set a goal of reading 60 books this year, but January is nearly over and I have hardly read anything. I had better go and work out my plan. Thanks again 🙂

  • Jeanine says:

    I am a Reading Specialist, and #2 is how we encourage children who are reluctant readers to read more: find books that interest you. I firmly believe that there is a book out there for everyone! 🙂 Also, if a book doesn’t interest you, don’t be afraid to put it down and look for another. Don’t waste time on something that is not exciting to you. I get frustrated with myself because I like to start what I finish, but it’s OK to just let go of a “boring” book. 😀

  • Jen says:

    I was a voracious reader growing up (in fact my mom discovered I somehow knew how to read at 3 years old!) and yet as I got older I forgot how much I enjoyed it until recently. My biggest hindrance was thinking that because I didn’t have huge blocks of time to curl up and read, I didn’t have time at all. Once I realized I could be content (and super productive!) with 5 min here, 30 min there, it changed EVERYTHING!! I LOVE to read….so life-giving for me!

  • Thanks for this wonderful post. I love to read but often find myself so tired I fall asleep within a few sentences and just keep reading the same paragraph over and over again. I think I’ll try reading more on the weekends rather than late at night which isn’t working.

  • Victoria says:

    I am loving the Hoopla app through my local library for audio books. Our libraries Overdrive account just doesn’t have that great of a selection. My goal is to read at least 12 business books this year, however I don’t enjoy reading the business genre that much but I do enjoy listening to it. I have gotten into the habit of listening during the last half hour or so before bed while I color. I also listen while doing chores. It really does add up I listened to ” Do Over” in under two weeks this way.

  • Kelli says:

    Yes, finding time to read can always be done! I’m a single mom of 2 boys and I work full-time. My goal is always one book per week, and last year I managed to read 66 books. I read during my lunch hour at work and then in bed after my kids are asleep. I can’t really seem to concentrate on reading when my kids are awake. Anyway, I used to be a big tv watcher as a way to relax, but I’ve gotten back to reading instead over the last few years. I primarily read kindle books from the library so it’s FREE.

  • Karen says:

    Like Joanne, I have taken books with me when I run errands. If my husband and I are together, I sometimes wait in the car reading while he takes care of his business. Also, I tutor in my home. Sometimes, my students will run 5 – 10 minutes late. Reading is a great way to make use of that time. And like Crystal I try to keep 2 – 3 books going so I’m in the mood to read at least one of them.

  • Carmen N says:

    I didn’t keep good track last year, but I have recorded that I read 9 books. Doesn’t seem like much, but I didn’t read much after my daughter was born. What spurred me was having to do a book review; I *knew* I had to make time, so I read over my lunch hour – often in my car so I could have complete quiet. I’m doing a bible / book study for the next few weeks, and that book has a permanent place in my purse for when I have time.

    I don’t read many e-books or audiobooks; if I want to multi-task with something else like knitting, I listen to podcasts; usually business-related.

    Our local library has a program right now – 1000 books before Kindergarten. The kids are urged to mark off on a sheet of 100 each time they read a book. After each sheet is filled, they get a prize. We’ve always read 2-3 books per night to our daughter, so this was nothing new for her.

  • Jennifer says:

    Reading is vital to my spiritual, emotional and intellectual well-being and growth. I find that I’m “off” in some way when life gets so busy and I don’t take time to read. These are great suggestions, Crystal! I like to read a two or three books at the same time from different genres: one fiction and maybe one history or self-growth/faith based. Joining a book club is a great way to read toward a deadline and share with others. While I love the smell and feel of my books, e-reading really helps to keep reading. With a free app I’ve downloaded several books on my phone and tablet, which I can read for a few minutes while waiting anywhere. That really adds up and provides a nice little escape during the day, when needed. The library also loans out e-books, as other suggested. Happy Reading!

  • Swapna says:

    I have always loved reading my entire life till first I got married and then I had my daughter. I just haven’t had enough time since I had her to spend any time reading but I always wanted to get back to it.

    Now, this year, I’m thinking about making this a goal – read at least one book a month and blog about it.

  • Kathy says:

    Hello! I have always been an avid reader but when my husband bought me a Kindle, it definitely bumped up my reading. I am in a book club so I read one book a month for the club and 2-3 additional books per month. Not bad for someone who works 45-50 hours per week outside the home and has a 2 year old and 6 year old.

  • Amy B says:

    I have always loved to read! It is hard sometimes to find time with two small kids, but I’ve set a goal for myself to read 50 books this year (I’m on #7 right now). I always have an ebook checked out on Overdrive (so many free ebooks and audiobooks), and I usually have a hard copy of another book going.
    Also, I think it’s great for kids to see their parents reading! We read to them all the time, and sometimes we have “book time” where I read my book and they look at theirs 🙂 And my 3.5 year old “reads” books to my 19 month-old. So cute, and fun to see them starting to love books.

  • Kimberly Walker says:

    The only challenge I have to reading is that we don’t have any bookstores in town and I can’t afford to order through Amazon. I try to find good books at thrift stores, but that isn’t always successful! I am a physical book person – love to HOLD a book in my hands as I read! I read all the time, usually reread books many many many (many more) times!!! I love to read and always have. So, in my leap of faith, whenever Crystal (or her group) recommends a great book, I take a chance on it once a quarter. It has worked pretty well so far!

  • Michele Pruitt says:

    I had sent a book titled “Robots or Rebels” to you. Wondering if you ever got a chance to read it? Thank you!

    • I didn’t yet — I have around 150? books waiting on my shelf that have been sent to me to read! But I hope to get to it eventually. Thank you so much!

      • Michele Pruitt says:

        Thank you so much! This book written by my husband. We really feel like it is much needed. It is on legalism. Looking forward to hearing from you when you are able to read it.

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