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11 Ways Busy People Make Time To Read

11 Ways Busy People Make Time To Read

Some of the busiest people on our planet are also avid readers. Reading sparks your creativity, helps you grow your understanding of complex problems and grows you intellectually, while at the same time, reading is a very relaxing activity. But how do we make time to read?

News articles report that we are reading less and less. A study in 2004 found that the average number of books read in the US per year is 12, while the median value is only five books. If you want to beat this sad statistic and increase the number of books you read per year and make time to read, then keep reading.

The year in which I finished my PhD, moved across the globe, and attended conferences in every single continent of the world to present my research (except Antarctica), I logged 69 books into my GoodReads account. Many people have wondered how I managed to find the time to read so many books while having such a busy year. If you want to increase the number of books you read each year, I have gathered 11 of my best tips for reading:

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1. Borrow more books than you can read

If you enjoy borrowing books from the library, borrow more than you think you’ll actually read. Having physical books piled up in your house that you know need to be returned will encourage you to read more than you might initially have planned to.

If you are a digital reader, make sure you download a stockpile of books onto your e-reader,so you always have a wealth of choices right at your fingertips that you are eager to read.

2. Read more than one book at a time

Some people prefer to read one book at a time, but others benefit from working on several books at the same time. Some books are more suitable for reading at night (like fiction novels), while other books, such as non-fiction analyses, can be more suitable for reading during your commute.

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I typically have a number of books that I am working on available on my nightstand in my room, as well as one fiction and at least one non-fiction book in progress on my e-reader. For personal development books, it might be advisable to space out your reading session over time, so that you get a chance to work on the recommendations in the book.

3. Set a goal per reading session

If you don’t have the habit of reading big chunks of text at a time, set reading goals per session. For example, you can challenge yourself to read 50 pages before putting your book aside, or to finish the chapter before you move on to the next task. Set the bar a little higher each time. Reading a little bit extra every day will add up to reading more books on an annual basis than before.

4. Ignore what you “should” be reading

While you might find inspiration in lists of “best” books, read for yourself. Read for your own pleasure and education. Putting pressure on yourself in terms of reading what the rest of the world tells you to read only brings you so far. If you read based on your own interest and joy, you will find yourself making more time to read out of excitement for the book or topic.

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5. Practice speed-reading

The idea is simple: if you want to read more in a short amount of time, you can teach yourself to read faster. There are different techniques for speed-reading in which you can train yourself. These techniques include grouping words instead of reading word per word, forcing your eyes to move more quickly by moving a ruler or pen across the page, or holding your breath and trying to finish a paragraph in that time (this technique suppresses sub-vocalization, our tendency to “hear” the words we read in our mind).

6. Read digitally across all your mobile devices

If you read digitally, make sure you have a reader app on all your mobile devices so that you can read whenever you have a free moment. The books on my e-reader are synced with my smartphone and tablet; I can read when I am waiting in line in the bank, while the cleaning lady takes care of my office, or while I am taking a break during the day. Having a book synced across all devices will help you to read a few pages here and there during the day. By doing this, when you check back on your e-reader at the end of the day, you will see that you will have easily read 20 pages just by reading in snippets of time.

7. Read before going to bed

Reading fiction or enjoyable non-fiction at night before falling asleep is a proven method to relax, put the day behind ourselves, and prepare ourselves for a good night’s sleep. By the same token, you can make it a habit to read a few pages first thing in the morning, or read a chapter after lunch while you are digesting food and getting ready for a productive work session in the afternoon.

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8. Join your peers

Look for people in your community or online who are reading the same book as you are reading. Keeping up with their discussions and ideas on the reading will help you move forward with your reading. You wouldn’t want to be the one who missed out on last week’s chapter, would you?

9. Track your progress online

Several websites can be used to track your reading process throughout the year; my personal favorite is GoodReads. An online account in which you keep an overview of the books you are currently reading, and your progress in these books, will help you focus on your reading. Moreover, you can keep track of the books that you would like to read later on, and add reviews of the books you have read. Many of these sites can also make recommendations based on the books you’ve read and enjoyed.

10. Quit reading random news articles

If you want to make more time to read books, you will have to cut down on time from other activities to free up time for reading. One of the methods you can follow is by cutting down on the number of random articles shared on social media platforms that you read, and replace this time by reading more in-depth analyses in the books that you are working through.

11. Join a reading challenge

Similarly to point three, you can join a reading challenge and set a goal for the number of books you would like to read in a given year. To really challenge yourself, set the limit just a little above what you would think is feasible. Giving yourself a specific challenge can do a lot to hold yourself accountable and motivate yourself to reach the goal. You’d be amazed at how much reading you can do in a single year.

Featured photo credit: books/ henry via flickr.com

More by this author

Eva Lantsoght

Eva is a university professor and a professional structural engineer. She writes about achieving excellence and success in life on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Why Working 9 to 5 Is Outdated

Bristol is the most congested city in England. Whenever I have to work at the office, I ride there, like most of us do. Furthermore, I always make sure to go at off hours; otherwise, the roads are jam-packed with cars, buses, bikes, even pedestrians. Why is that? Because everyone is working a traditional 9 to 5 work day.

Where did the “9 to 5” Come From?

It all started back in 1946. The United States government implemented the 40 hour work week for all federal employees, and all companies adopted the practice afterwards. That’s 67 years with the same schedule. Let’s think about all the things that have changed in the 67 years:

  • We went to the moon, and astronauts now live in space on the ISS.

  • Computers used to take up entire rooms and took hours to make a single calculation. Now we have more powerful computers in our purses and back pockets with our smartphones.

  • Lots of employees can now telecommute to the office from hundreds, and even thousands of miles away.

In 1946 a 9-5 job made sense because we had time after 5pm for a social life, a family life. Now we’re constantly connected to other people and the office, with the Internet, email on our smartphones, and hashtags in our movies and television shows. There is no downtime anymore.

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Different Folks, Different Strokes

Enjoying your downtime is an important part of life. It recharges your batteries and lets you be more productive. Allowing people to balance life and work can provide them with much needed perspective and motivation to see the bigger picture of what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are just more productive when they’re working at their optimal time of day, after feeling well rested and personally fulfilled.  For some that can be  from 4 a.m. to 9 a.m; for others, it could be  2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

People have their own rhythms and routines. It would be great if we could sync our work schedule to match. Simply put, the imposed 8-hour work day can be a creativity and morale killer for the average person in today’s world.

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Productivity and Trust Killer

Fostering creativity among employees is not always an easy endeavor, but perhaps a good place to start is by simply not tying their tasks and goals to a fixed time period. Let them work on their to-do list at their own pace, and chances are, you’ll get the best out of your employee who feels empowered instead of babysat.

That’s not to say that you should  allow your team to run wild and do whatever they want, but restricting them to a 9 to 5 time frame can quickly demoralize people. Set parameters and deadlines, and let them work at their own creative best with the understanding that their work is crucial to the functioning of the entire team.

Margaret Heffernan, an entrepreneur who previously worked in broadcasting, noted to Inc that from her experience, “treating employees like grown-ups made it more likely that they would behave the same way.” The principle here is to have your employees work to get things done, not to just follow the hands on the clock.

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A Flexible Remote Working Policy

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer famously recalled all her remote workers, saying she wanted to improve innovation and collaboration, but was that the right decision? We’ve all said that we’re often more productive in a half day working from home than a full day working in the office, right? So why not let your employees work remotely from home?

There are definitely varying schools of thought on remote working. Some believe that innovation and collaboration can only happen in a boardroom with markers, whiteboards and post-it notes and of course, this can be true for some. But do a few great brainstorms trump a team that feels a little less stressed and a little more free?

Those who champion remote working often note that these employees are not counting the clock, worried about getting home, cooking dinner or rushing through errands post-work. No one works their 9-5 straight without breaks here and there.  Allowing some time for remote working means employees can handle some non-work related tasks and feel more accomplished throughout the day. Also, sometimes we all need to have a taste of working in our pajamas, right?

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It’ll be interesting to see how many traditional companies and industries start giving their employees more freedom with their work schedule. And how many end up rescinding their policies like Yahoo did.

What are your thoughts of the traditional 9-5 schedule and what are you doing to help foster your team’s productivity and creativity? Hit the comments and let us know.

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