Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Finding Time to Read Even When You're Super Busy

by Veronica Curieux

I’m an avid reader, and as a busy mom and business owner, people seem to wonder how I do it, so let me share a few of my tricks and tips.

1. Erase the idea that you don’t have time to read

You might think that reading is a recreational activity that you are too busy for, or you might think that reading is boring and homework-esque and procrastinate. Either way, there are ways to fit reading into your week. You are an adult so no one is making you read – so if you want to, you can find some time to do it! Think about wait times, and weekend time and bedtime. There are ways to fit a few pages in. Also, change your perspective on reading – you don’t have to have complete silence or the right conditions to do it. Your desk doesn’t need to be cleaned off. Think of reading as a short “brain break” that you can take, then go back to your tasks more refreshed.

2. The right material – at the right time

One way to stand out in your profession is to read about what’s happening in the field. You can subscribe to some industry newsletters, get on the mailing lists for some publications and get the hot books. But, these will do you no good if you don’t actually sit down to read them.

On the other hand, you may feel left out of the ladies’ book club if you haven’t read the latest thriller or thinkpiece. The concept of “beach reads” is also fairly pervasive and I’ll admit there’s nothing like a great romance novel to be mildly absorbing while you enjoy the salt air.

Here’s the thing: know when you need each kind of material. Don’t spend precious work time reading as an escape (unless that’s a strategy that you have for taking a mental break) and don’t haul your pile of work reading to the beach.) Designate different time slots for each type. Know yourself – do you need to settle in with a cup of tea or do you need short bursts of 15-20 minutes to get through a trade magazine?

3. Multi-media is your friend

The Kindle has changed my life…I have the app on my phone, as well as a Kindle Paperwhite reader. It tracks where I am in the book, and syncs between devices. So I can get a few pages in at the waiting room at the chiropractor, and a few more on the recumbent bike at the gym – and stay on track when I read at bedtime. (Big tip: the Paperwhite version of the Kindle means I can have an illuminated screen that doesn’t keep my early-to-bed husband awake with too much light. Totally worth it.)

4. Listen instead

Now with Audible, I also can listen to books while I’m driving. Sometimes I buy the audio version of the book on Amazon and switch in between. But listening to a book still counts as reading it – you are absorbing the information. Many people may find this a much better way to read more – whether it’s getting immersed in a fantasy fiction novel or listening to the author talk about ways to save money. Libraries often have audiobooks available – try a few different kinds to see what works for you, and consider what you might like to listen to during your commute versus a longer road trip. Also, don’t forget that you can listen anytime your hands are busy -- chopping veggies for dinner, putting on nail polish or sorting recycling.

5. Take the pressure off

With practice, you can get more reading done with less effort. Don’t feel like you need to read every word – it’s okay to skim the headlines of the paper, or a magazine. Come back to the parts you want to read more in-depth, or tear the pages out for when you have more time. Put “reading time” on your calendar at a time of day when you have less energy, and set a goal to just get through one piece. Give yourself permission to give up on a book after the first chapter or an article after a few paragraphs.

Reading anything can help you be better informed – just start the habit and work on it. (Big tip: remember that reading things online all the time can lead to digital fatigue, and that picking up one magazine and reading it all the way through may be more satisfying than reading 5 articles on your phone.)

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