Whether you’re an avid reader or someone who barely has time to read a few books a year, a lot of us say we want to “read more”. Whatever your reason, whatever your definition of “more” is, there are some simple tips that can help you achieve that.
I want to start by saying there is no pressure to read a certain number of books in any given period of time. It doesn’t have to be the most important thing in your life, the only way you spend your free time, or some sort of moral marker. Reading is FUN and educational, but ultimately it’s just a thing we choose to do (or choose not to do) with our time.
However, if reading IS something you want to make more time for, I have a few suggestions for you.
1. Make it a Priority
The number one tip to start reading more is to make it a priority. As with any habit or goal, you need to consider reading an important part of your time if you really want to do more of it.
If it’s not a big priority, that’s okay. There are lots of other things in life that are more important. But consider parts of your day when you could prioritize reading over something else.
2. Schedule Time to Read
Scheduling time into your day/week/month to read is the best way to make sure you do it. If you’re a busy person, this may be the only way to fit it in. Block out time in your regular routine that is dedicated to reading.
It could be 15 minutes in the morning or right before bed. It could be something you do while eating meals or on your work breaks. It could just be a period of time once a week when you know you’ll have time. Once it’s scheduled into your routine, it’ll start to feel natural.
3. Use Reading as a Reward / Read Between Tasks
Use reading as a reward for finishing other tasks. This is a two-birds-with-one-stone kind of thing. Knowing that you’ll get to read if you finish that little task you’re putting off will motivate you to get some other things done. Meanwhile, you’ll get to use those small bits of time between tasks to do a little more reading. This is a great way to get through a day of chores.
4. Use an E-Reader
Using an e-reader has helped me to read significantly more than I did when I solely read traditional books. Whether it’s a Kindle, reading on your tablet, or downloading a reading app for your phone, this will help form new reading habits.
Sometimes picking up a paper book doesn’t feel as natural to us (unfortunately) as picking up an electronic device. Also, if you’re out and about, a regular book might be too cumbersome; whereas carrying an e-reader or having an app on your phone means you’ll always have a book with you.
If you’ve never read electronically, I suggest trying it out. You might find you enjoy it even more than holding a regular book.
5. Listen to Audiobooks
Audiobooks make reading much more accessible to anyone and everyone. If you don’t have time to sit down and dedicate time to reading, audiobooks mean you can multi-task. You can listen to books while cleaning, commuting to work, exercising, or doing any number of things.
Reading can also be tiring for some people, so listening might allow you to read for a longer period of time. If you listen to podcasts regularly, this will be a great option for you.
6. Read Shorter Books
This tip sounds like a bit of a cheat (reading shorter books means technically you can read more books), but there’s more to it than that. Longer books can be intimidating or overwhelming, especially if you already feel like you don’t have a lot of time to read. So just focus on reading shorter books instead!
This will increase your motivation to read if you know it won’t take too long to finish a book. If I’m in a reading slump, being able to quickly get through a few short books helps motivate me to get back into a regular reading routine.
I can’t stress this enough: If you’re not enjoying a book, DNF it! (DNF means “Did Not Finish”.) For a lot of people, this habit takes time to get used to, but no one is going to reprimand you for not finishing it.
Don’t read books you don’t like just because you started it. Not only is it a waste of precious time, but if you’re stuck on a book you don’t want to read, you’ll probably just end up not reading at all.
8. Read What You Like
Continuing on from the previous tip, read the books you really like. Pick books that actually interest you instead of reading what you think you “should” read. There are always going to be popular, hyped up books going around. And a lot of people feel like they need to read certain types of books (like classics) in order to be a “real reader”.
Put all of that aside and just read what you want to. You’ll be way more motivated to read if you get books you’re truly excited about.
9. Pick Up a Book Instead of Your Phone
Go do this real quick: Take a look at your screen time on your phone. How much time are you spending on social media, watching videos, playing games, etc.? A lot of us will find we’re spending more time on our phones than we think.
You might realize that you DO have time to read, you’ve just been using it to scroll through social media instead. So if you find that you can carve out even 15 minutes of that phone time and redirect it to reading, it could help you form a new habit.
10. Bring a Book with You Everywhere
Bring a book (or your e-reader) with you everywhere you go. You never know when you’re going to have some down time while you’re out and about. You might have a break at work, some time between meetings/errands, or you might have to wait in line somewhere for a while.
But if you always have your book with you, then you can pick it up and start reading during those unexpected free minutes throughout your day.
11. Waiting Time is Reading Time
Continuing on from the previous tip, waiting time should be reading time. We spend a lot of time waiting (while running errands or waiting for that friend that is always late to dinner). Instead of pulling out your phone to kill time, pull out your book.
12. Make (Achievable) Reading Goals
If you’re a goal-oriented person, make reading goals to help you read more. Set a specific number of books you want to read in a month. Create a list of books you want to read and start checking them off your list. Whatever kind of goals you make, make them realistic to make sure you’re motivated to keep working towards them.
13. Get Accountability
A lot of people need accountability in order to follow through with goals and intentions. So if you want to read more, join a book club to motivate you to finish a book every month. Or find a friend who will read a book with you, so you guys can keep each other accountable.
14. Listen to Book Podcasts
There are so many great book-focused podcasts out there. A lot of them are formatted like a book club, where the hosts tell you what they’re reading, and then dedicate an episode to talking about it. This is a fun way to encourage you to read certain books, knowing you’ll get to read along with the hosts and then hear their thoughts.
I recommend listening to The Bookstore and Lit Society.
15. Read Instead of Binging Netflix
This is an obvious one, but if you spend a lot of your free time watching TV, try spending some of that time reading instead. I’m not saying you have to give up Netflix completely, but you can find a good balance between both.
I hope these tips can help you find more time for reading. Some might work for you, some might not. But any amount of time you can dedicate to reading is time well spent!