My friend Susan has resolved to find more reading time this year.
As an elementary school teacher and an unabashed bookaholic, Susan says reading is her mental vacation. It’s her ‘me’ time in the middle of the day. She recharges by reading a hot romance novel on her iPhone during lunch break.
“Fun novels keep me sane,” she says simply. “But trying to find more reading time actually stresses me out. There are hundreds of books on my reading list I’ll probably never get to, and more being added all the time.”
NEW YEAR, NEW BOOKISH YOU
If you’re like Susan, reading is an important part of your life. Maybe you’ve even added ‘Read More Books’ to your New Year’s resolutions.
Yet, you probably don’t schedule reading time on your Google calendar like you would a doctor’s appointment or salon visit.
Kudos if you do!
Here are 5 other ways to find more reading time in 2017:
1. RESOLVE TO SAY ‘NO’ MORE OFTEN. [READING TIME FOUND: 1.5 HOURS/WEEK]
Throw a baby shower for your pregnant employee? Of course!
Organize the Valentine’s Day bake sale at your child’s school? Sure.
Host your cousin’s jewelry party? Yeah, okay.
Be maid of honor for that high school friend you haven’t talked to outside of Facebook in a year? Um, all right…
People will make endless demands on your time. It’s up to you to decide where to draw the line.
For most of us the problem isn’t prioritizing which things we really want to do. It’s letting go of the fear that people won’t like us when we start saying no.
“How others will react to you saying no is out of your control,” says life coach Michael Feeley. “You may lose some friends but the question is, were they real friends to begin with?”
Do you remember the Oprah mantra, “Saying no to others is saying yes to yourself”? For reading addicts, saying no to others is saying YES to more reading time.
Because you don’t want to say no to your latest book boyfriend, do you?
2. QUIT READING BOOKS YOU HATE. [READING TIME FOUND: 2 HOURS/WEEK]
Research shows that compulsive book addicts average 120 minutes a week reading books they dislike.
Okay, I totally made that up.
It may be impossible to quantify the time you’ve wasted on books not suited to your tastes. Add in the hours you procrastinated reading altogether because you weren’t enjoying the book, and you’ve found a goldmine of potential free time.
Book bloggers and others who work with authors on pre-release reviews may feel particularly forced to finish.
Let go of the guilt. You don’t get a special badge for completing a book you hated. And you certainly aren’t obligated to review every ARC you receive.
Sure, we authors want more book reviews. But we’re also looking to attract readers who authentically like our stories.
Just for tonight, skip that book you’ve been dreading and give yourself permission to start something new. Life is too short to bother reading books you don’t love.
3. EXERCISE YOUR ‘RIGHT TO DISCONNECT.’ [READING TIME FOUND: 20 MINUTES/DAY]
Follow the new French fashion and exercise your right to disconnect from work on evenings and weekends. As of January 1, French workers now have the right to ignore job related emails outside of typical working hours.
How would your manager react if you stopped answering her 11:00 p.m. messages?
Maybe not at all.
“Many people, myself included, like to do some work over the weekend,” says Inc.’s management columnist Alison Green. “But that doesn’t mean we expect immediate answers to our emails.”
Make protecting your personal time a priority. Turn off email notifications on your smart phone during non-work hours and open a book instead.
Find more reading time and watch the world not end.
4. START A NEW FAMILY TRADITION. [READING TIME FOUND: 1 HOUR/WEEK]
With your kids busy watching Teen Titans or playing Minecraft, you can finally get something done.
I’m not going to take that away from you!
But do you make an effort to sit down with your children in front of the TV on a semi-regular basis? Perhaps your family loves watching The Voice together, or you try to view something fun or educational.
It feels like cozy family time. The connection feels important. And it is important.
But so is instilling a love of reading in your children. With the average preschooler watching more than 32 hours of TV in a week, your kids may not grow up loving reading the way you do…
Unless you make some changes now.
“Your kids are watching your every move,” says teacher, blogger and mother Melissa Taylor. “Plus, they copy you. So they need to see you reading regularly. The experts say this is good modeling. I use this as my justification for reading all the time, especially when I should be making dinner.”
Follow these 3 easy steps to find more reading time for your family:
- Announce the new format in advance. “Starting next week, instead of watching X on Wednesdays we’re going to have quiet reading time in the living room after dinner.” Ignore complaints and don’t negotiate. If necessary, you can DVR your family’s favorite show so they can watch it during approved TV time.
- Supply the books. Drag your kids to the library and ask them to select at least three books each. Having a lot of physical books around the house dramatically increases kids’ interest in reading, research shows. Children too young to read can look at picture books or play quietly during Family Reading Hour.
- Discreetly download your next steamy romance novel and enjoy! It doesn’t matter what you read, as long as your children see you buried in a (digital) book. Kindles or tablets are preferable to your cell phone for Family Reading Hour. This needs to be a cell phone–free zone.
I do Family Reading Half Hour with my toddler before naptime, and it works great most days. The key to success is ignoring your child while you read.
But do try responding minimally to their demands for your attention. They will learn to entertain themselves, eventually by mimicking your reading habits.
Research shows it takes about eight weeks to form a new habit, not 21 days as popularly believed. Be persistent, shorten the reading time to thirty minutes if needed, and don’t get discouraged when your family resists the first few weeks.
5. STOP BEING YOUR BEST FRIEND’S LIFE COACH. [READING TIME FOUND: 30 MINUTES/DAY]
You know that friend who always asks your advice? The one whose love life is a disaster, is about to get fired from her job and gets too depressed to leave the house some days? She needs your help.
No, she doesn’t.
She needs to get help—as in read a self-development book, join an online support group, or hire an actual life coach. She needs to get her life together herself. In fact, the best way you can help her is to stop being her crutch.
“If you have a friend who talks constantly about a problem but refuses to take action to resolve it, sometimes the best way to help her is to change the subject,” says Karen, my brilliant and unconventional licensed therapist.
“Letting her go on and on about the problem is draining to you and damaging to your friendship,” Karen adds. “And you’re probably not helping her as much as you think.”
Karen is right!
True story: For ten years I spent hours every week coaching a relative through a series of disastrous relationships with emotionally abusive boyfriends. It was exhausting, frustrating and upsetting when she refused to leave men who cheated on her repeatedly and treated her like dirt.
When I stopped being endlessly available to her—with Karen’s help—my relative found another source of support. She read a self-development book that helped her work through her romance stumbling blocks. (Email me if you want the book title!)
Within 10 months, she met a man who treated her like a queen. Last fall, they celebrated their one-year wedding anniversary.
And me? I found more time in my day for activities that recharged me—like reading. As a bonus, I actually look forward to catching up with my relative these days and hearing how her love life is going.
READ TWO MORE NOVELS EVERY WEEK
With these five tweaks to your routine, you’ll be well on your way to finding more than nine hours of extra reading bliss each week. That’s approximately two full novels’ worth! What are you waiting for?
Are you planning to read more this year? Share this article on Facebook and Pinterest to tell all your friends.