My whole life, I’ve been an avid, if not voracious, reader. I tear through books as if I depend on them for sustenance, and I suppose in some ways, I do. All my books’ pages are perpetually dog-eared, their margins filled with scribbled notes, the paragraphs alternatingly highlighted and underlined.
As someone who reads quite a bit, I also tend to talk about reading a lot. Often, when I bring up my most recent or favorite read with a friend, I’m met with this complaint: “I just wish I had more time to read.”
It’s a valid complaint. As so many of us lead such busy lives, it can be difficult to find time to do anything for leisure’s sake. As a freelancer, my schedule is a bit more flexible than some but I’d say I still tend to work forty-fifty hours a week on average. Despite my heavy workload, I’ve always made reading for pleasure a priority. I’ve found a few ways to make sure I can make reading a part of my daily routine.
1.) Replace your Netflix/TV time with reading at least once a week.
I am nowhere near immune to the joys of zoning out in front of a screen. I’d be much less happy and calm as a person without my weekly SATC sofa marathons.
As brilliant as so much television and film can be, nothing can replace the joy of cuddling up with a good book instead. Next time you think, “I’ll just watch an episode of two of ‘The Office’,” why not grab a book and read a few chapters instead?
Bonus: Reading before bed will help you sleep much better than watching any sort of screen.
2.) Always carry a book with you.
I like to say, “Walk tall and carry a big purse.” It’s not that I’m toting around a change of clothes or a bunch of makeup (well, I sometimes am) but I’m usually carrying around a book or two. This way, if you find yourself on a bus, in a waiting room, or just with some time to kill in a coffeeshop while you wait for a friend, you can squeeze in a couple of pages rather than scrolling through your Instagram feed again.
Bonus: You’ll look way smarter reading a book on public transit than all those people on their smartphones!
3.) Consider downloading books onto your phone/iPad.
I know I literally just threw shade at phones/technology, but sometimes I will admit they can be great! If you can’t carry a physical book around with you all day, why not transfer the books you love onto the devices you’re already toting around 24/7? Many books are available online via public domain, especially poems and short stories. Save a few to your bookmarks, or download them from the iTunes store, and save them for the next time you’ve got some time to kill.
Bonus: You’re much less likely to activate those FOMO parts of your brain while reading a book than while seeing all the fun vacations all your Instagram friends are going on.
4.) Consider audiobooks!
I spend a lot of time doing various activities that I can’t do while holding a book in front of my face, like walking, driving, or working out. These are the times I turn to audiobooks. If you’ve got a road trip coming up, why not download that new novel you’ve been meaning to get around to reading? Or, go for a long walk in your neighborhood with some headphones and that new biography you saw in the NYT. There are so many ways to “read,” there’s no excuse not to!
Bonus: You can finally become that crazy person who’s laughing alone on the bus.
5.) Plan a “Book Date Night” with yourself.
Every Wednesday night, I stay in, pour myself a glass of wine, and curl up with a book. This is a form of self-care, and I always get a few good hours of reading in. It’s important to make time for yourself a priority, and reading a book is an excellent way to take care of yourself and your mind. You deserve it!