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11 Ways Busy People Make Time To Read

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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.

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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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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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