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How to Get More Time for Reading

You’ve heard it all before: “I’d love to read more, but I don’t have the time”. “Oh yeah, I’d like to read 50 books this year, but I’m afraid work takes too much time”. 

Everyone has an excuse for not doing something. We don’t have time. 24 hours in a day are simply not enough for us to get everything done anymore. 

When I was younger, I used to read book after book, but other things started taking priority. As these became part of my routine, there was no time for reading anymore. I knew I needed to made a change.

Let me break it to you: unless you are a super-busy CEO, you do have the time for it. You just don’t know how to manage it. If you’ll allow me…

The most important step you can take is to drop the excuses. There’s always time. You’re just not prioritizing reading high enough on your list. You’re probably fine with being glued to a smartphone screen on your commute. As soon as you realize that you waste a lot of time during your day-to-day routine, you can begin tweaking your schedule. 

Always carry a book with you

I’m looking at people standing in long queues, or waiting for their car to be washed or repaired, or waiting for their plane to board, or waiting for the train that is 15 minutes late... they’re just waiting. Just standing there, waiting. Seconds of their lives passing by. Seconds they’ll never get back.

Once I was very curious to see how much time I waste waiting for stuff to happen. I started a stopwatch every time I waited, and stopped it once I was done. By the end of the week, my stopwatch passed 5 hours. That’s five hours of potential reading time. There are people who don’t read five hours per month. Just imagine what you could do with five per week. You’d go through books so quickly, you won’t be able to buy enough of them.

The problem is that whenever you’re in line waiting for something, you have no book with you. So you just take your smartphone out from your pocket and open Instagram.

Wherever you are, make sure you have a book with you.

Wherever you are, make sure you have a book with you.

I’m trying to transition to a minimalist life style, so I’m not purchasing books. I either borrow them, or buy them digitally. I’ve downloaded the Kindle app on my smartphone, and while reading on a relatively small screen is not the best experience, it’s more than fine for reading 10 minutes here and 10 minutes there. By the end of the day, I’ve read 30 minutes without even trying. If I do 30 minutes more before I go to sleep, that’s 7 hours per week of reading - which would otherwise, most probably, be time completely wasted.

Use your commute

Some of my buddies spend three hours per day travelling back and forth to their workplace. London is nuts. If you read three hours per day, you’ll read more in a month than others do in a year.

Even if your commute is short, this should in no way be an excuse. Even ten minutes are more than nothing. You’ll get no added value by scrolling down your Facebook wall instead.

Half a year ago I sold my car. I wasted 40-45 minutes each day commuting. I took the alternative, which was commuting by bus for 1 hour per day. Suddenly, 45 minutes of driving a car turned into one hour of reading. I’m not saying that you should sell your car and commute by public transportation. But if it makes sense for you, do it. Time spent driving is time during which you can’t do anything else. It’s wasted time.

Drop social media

I know, I know, it’s difficult. I don’t mean drop social media at all. Figure out how often you are on social media. What gets measured, gets managed. When you’re aware of it, you suddenly realize how much time is wasted scrolling down your feeds. Five minutes here and five minutes there suddenly turn into 30 minutes per day. If you’d only read 30 minutes per day, you’d probably read more than everyone in your entire neighbourhood. 

Read only what you like

Everybody talks about how important it is to read. I get that. But when we don’t know what to read, we usually pick up books that others recommend. Before you read a book, read its description and make sure it sounds like something you are interested in.

I’ve discovered that I read books that I am interested in much quicker than just books that I read because everyone else says they are good. Which leads me to…

Keep a reading list

Keeping a reading list might be a helpful tip

Keeping a reading list might be a helpful tip

When you have a list of books you want to read, it’s much easier to pick the next one. I have over 100 on my reading list, so every time I finish a book, it’s like a party. Choosing the next one is always fun and never takes too much time. Also, I can't wait to finish books, because I know there are over 100 exciting titles waiting on the other side.

I create my list by finding related titles on Amazon for the books I liked. If the descriptions sounds good, I add the book on my list. That’s how “Gone Girl” led me to “The Girl On The Train”.

Another thing I do is going through book shops whenever I’m in airports. They always have the latest, most interesting books on display. Note down the titles and add them to your list.

These are just some of the things I did during the past year to start picking up on my reading. I realize not all of these are easy to do, but you don’t have to. If you add all my ideas up, you’ll get 3-4 hours per day for reading. You don’t need that. But if you only do one or two of the above and read one hour per day, that’s still better than reading nothing. One hour per day of reading can help you read quite a lot of books per year.