Every bookworm faces challenges. These include finding the perfect book, staying within a book budget and most importantly; carving out time to read all the books you collect on your to-be-read shelves. This week the focus is finding the time to read.
Conquer Your Free Time: Read Books instead of Social Media
I recently upgraded phones, and it had been awhile. I was pleased to discover that in 5 years since my last phone; technology has made some improvements. A new feature is quickly becoming my favorite, The Digital Well Being app allows me to see how much time I’m spending on Social Media. This is also an easy way to set time restrictions on certain apps. I’ve implemented a daily check in to my routine, just monitor and review ways I can unplug without abandoning all of social media.
I set my limits at a reasonable amount per day and then at the end of the day, I reduce the limit for tomorrow to 10 minutes below my usage level of the day. It’s making those incremental changes that I have found a better balance. It’s not a perfect system, it’s also still pretty new. I’m not saying social media is bad, but if I’m trying to find to read more books – I have to scroll less.
Writers have writing sprints. You can see all the twitter updates during Nanowrimo (November is National Novel Writing Month) If you can’t commit to 30 minutes a day, start smaller. You can carve out 15 minutes before bed. Go to bed early, it’s good for you. Have a book you are excited to read – so you want to go to bed early, and then set an alarm for 15 minutes. Feel free to hit snooze one or twice before you reach your grown-up bed time.
If you get to involved in what you are reading and don’t find it conducive to getting enough sleep, that’s okay. Try the hour or so it takes to do a load of laundry. Or get up 20 minutes early and sit and read for 10 minutes before you really start getting ready for the day.
Find a reading buddy at work who will read during lunch. Sit together and read or create an office book club so you fee accountable to the group and find the time to read.
How to Use Your Commute to Maximize Your Reading Time
First things first, don’t leave home without something to read.
If you are driving audio books are a nice reprieve from the news or the same 7 songs and 3 commercials you’ll hear on the radio. I used to to have a significant commute and I was able to finish several books a week in my 3 hour a day back and forth grind on the interstate.
If you’ve never tried audio books, it does take a little practice but you’ll develop active listening skills as you read through your ears. Yes, it’s reading as long as you are truly listening; and not just hearing the words being read to you. Comprehension is the key.
It can be challenging to hear the differences in the narrators voice if they are creating nuanced dialects when performing dialogue passages. If you are having trouble following the different cast of characters, try reading a book that is familiar to you. For example, the Harry Potter series has a large cast of characters, but one narrator. Or if you like memoir and biography, listening to someone tell their story makes feel more real Especially if the voice is familiar to you.
Most cars will let you sync your phone so you can play your audio books through your car stereo. If you don’t have this feature, fear not – you can pick up a portable speaker that connects via bluetooth. I did this for years. It works. However, it’s not the best when it’s 95 degrees and the A/C needs a recharge.
The price tag on audio books is significantly more than a used paperback copy. Don’t let this deter you from trying this method of reading. There are different audio book subscription services available if your book budget allows. If you have a library card, the world of free audio books is open to you. Library apps have come along way, now they are easily accessible through an app. Libby and Hoopla are great. Easy to use for finding, listening, and returning your finished books to the library. Bonus, if you don’t like what you are reading – return it, and your pocketbook won’t feel the pain.
There are also books-on-tape or cd rather, (since tapes haven’t been around for, ahem, quite awhile) these can also be found at the library as well or possibly at the used books store and those KonMarie garage sales that are sure to pop-up this spring. They can be bulkier to store and require some additional hand-eye coordination to switch to the next chapter/disc.
If you get around by transit you have some flexibility in how you read on your commute. You can bring a physical book, e-book or listen to an audio book. There are benefits and challenges to each format.
If you prefer paper books – it can be challenging if you are stuck standing on on a crowded bus or train to open your book, keep your balance, wrangle your other belongings and still be able to turn the pages. It takes a little practice. Keep trying. Once you grab a seat you have an visible excuse or permission slip, to let your arms be comfortably square with your body instead of rolling inward to make yourself as small as possible for the person sitting next to you who has proclaimed themselves the Prime Minister of the train/bus seat. If you are new to public transportation, a book may be helpful in claiming your space when your sitting next to someone who is encroaching over the invisible line and entering your personal space.
If you have a e-reader or if you read on your phone, you will find it easier to turn the pages while standing as well as keep your place when you transfer to a different bus or train. You may find it helpful to have a charger at work to make sure you can still read on your way home. The matte screen on e-readers may easier to read on sunny days to avoid the glare through the windows. Also, I find it more restful to have a little time away from glow of the phone or computer screen. You may need a bag to carry your e-reader, but this also gives you a place to bring your lunch – and then you can read at lunch time too! Warnings, do not get caught in the rain without protection for your e-reader. Yes they are light enough to carry in hand but when you are walking around outside – and there is a downpour, you don’t want to damage your e-reader, this also holds true with paper books.
If you get to work by bicycle or by foot – it goes without saying it is not always safe to handle a physical or e-book. Audio books might be a better bet, listen at your own risk or perhaps with only one earbud in if you are on a bicycle to make sure you can safely navigate the streets. Remember to be safe.