Reading is a simple pleasure that many of us have had the chance to renew this past year. However, as we slowly progress toward a post-pandemic normal, we may find ourselves slipping back into the old habit of overstretching our schedules, leaving no time to reap the benefits of reading.
Here are five strategies that actually work to allow yourself more time to read.
Set a reading goal. Establishing a goal to work towards can help you develop a regular reading practice. Keep it simple, attainable, and just a little challenging. Your goal can be time-focused (e.g. read at least 30 minutes daily) or page-oriented (e.g. read at least 15 pages a day). Just choose whatever seems to motivate you and stick with it.
Drop the false “should-be” reading notions. Don’t force yourself through a book just because it’s a title you “should” read. Sometimes we can get caught up in a made-up idea of the kinds of books we should be reading, whether it’s an ambitious philosophical text or a historical novel that all your friends are talking about. If we succumb to these ideas, we stop reading for enjoyment and instead are reading out of a sense of obligation.
Using screens to your advantage. Technology is often faulted for steering us away from literature by encouraging us to mindlessly scroll instead of reading a book. But if used correctly, technology can help you supplement or boost your reading. For example, e-readers like the kindle make it much easier to keep a book on hand, always. Audiobooks are also a great option for while your hands are busy doing household chores or mindless tasks.
Nudge your habits. Old habits die hard, but you can use the framework of an established habit to replace and build healthier ones. For instance, if you have a habit of scrolling before falling asleep, replace that habit by reading instead. Opt for a novel when you’re tempted to pick up your phone or tablet. Support this shift by leaving “cues” for yourself; hide your phone in a desk drawer but keep a book on your bedside table to increase the chances of you picking it up.
Track your progress. Reward yourself for reaching reading goals by tacking a gold star (or any other motivational symbol) on the calendar day that you’ve accomplished something. Celebrating small achievements and having a visual representation of your progress will keep your momentum up.
Hopefully, these quick and simple tips will help you get a more quality reading done, even as your schedule fills up. Just remember to allow yourself to have fun while reading so that you don’t think of it as another task on your to-do list. Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong way of reading, as long as you’re enjoying it!