This post first appeared on the Associated Collegiate Press website, where I am a guest blogger. It was updated for this site.
It’s almost Spring Break, then summer will be here before you know it. You remember summer, right? You know, days spent lounging by the pool, ample sleep, TV binging, and time to read whatever you want, not just what’s required.
Academic reading requirements and the schedules that come with the semester are a curse for those of us who love to read and recognize the benefits of reading. I had a difficult time as an undergraduate keeping up with required class readings, leaving no time for the reading I really wanted to do. Years (and years) of graduate school helped me learn how to make time to read what I loved while having more assigned reading than it was possible to complete.
Here are my tips for making time to read when you have no time to spare.
Read only books you enjoy
Don’t be afraid to drop a book you hate. Reading books you don’t enjoy takes the pleasure out of the activity, resulting in it taking you longer to force yourself through the text. Bad books make reading a chore, not a hobby. You will find more time to read if you’re reading something you enjoy.
Check out my post, Life’s Too Short to Read Bad Books, for more on why it’s ok not to finish books you don’t like.
Skim when warranted
It’s acceptable to power skim things you have to read for school or parts of books that you don’t really enjoy. You don’t have to take in every detail of every chapter to get what you need from a book.
Read several books simultaneously
I always have at least one non-fiction and one fiction book going at the same time. That way, I always have something to read that fits my mood.
Always have something to read
That 10 minute wait between classes is an excellent time to read, but only if you have a book with you. There really is no reason with current technology that you should ever be without something to read. I do a lot of reading on my iPhone, so I have my Kindle and iBook apps everywhere I go. I’m never without a book because I’m never without my phone. It’s much more practical than carrying around a physical book all the time.
Read to relax
You have to relax sometime. Plan your reading and relaxation at the same time. There are three times I read most—right before I go to sleep, right when I wake up and when I’m relaxing in the bathtub. These blocks of about 30 minutes give me time to relax, recharge and enjoy a great read.
Read during fitness
You can’t read a book while you’re lifting weights (at least I haven’t figured out how), but you can read on the bike, treadmill or elliptical. Again, I usually read on my phone in these locations because it’s just easier to control than a book. You can easily sneak in a chapter while you’re doing a cardio warm up or cool down.
One of the great secrets of reading is that you don’t have to physically read everything you “read.” Audiobooks are an excellent alternative to reading that still allow you to consume information. Audiobooks work well during exercise and while commuting.
Turn off the TV
The average American spends four hours a day watching TV. What if you spent even half of that time reading instead? I am not a big TV viewer. So, instead of spending hours every evening vegging out in front of the television, I read a book. I find this time much more enjoyable than that spent staring at a screen.
Keep a running book list
Keep a running list of things you want to read and things you’ve already read. The GoodReads app is a nice way to organize your lists. If you’re not sure what to read next, take a look at my 2016 reading list, which I update regularly. You also can find and share reading recommendations on my Real Nerds Read Facebook page.
I hope this post has given you some good ideas for making more time to read. There is time in your day to read, you just have to be intentional about it. You’ll be happy you did.