Most of us know just how enjoyable reading can be. But maybe reading feels like an indulgence in your busy schedule, and you find yourself asking “How can I find time to read?” If that sounds like you, check out the 20 tricks below for how to find time to read regularly.
Reading helps your memory, imagination, and critical thinking skills. It also improves your writing and communication prowess. And it can be more fun than you realize.
Many of the world’s most successful people share a common practice: they read every day. And who wouldn’t want to emulate their habits? Even though they’re super busy, they make sure to find time to read.
The difference between people who read and people who don’t is simply the allocation of their time. Even the busiest people have some time for leisure. It’s how they use that time that makes the biggest impact.
Please don’t just assume that you don’t have time to read. Check out these easy ways to fit reading into your own life.
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How to Find Time to Read
1. Read things you enjoy
This seems like a no brainer, but so often we tell ourselves what we should be reading, instead of reading what is actually interesting to us. Especially if you’re out of the habit of reading, choose books with topics you find fascinating.
I definitely prefer suspenseful novels to most other kinds of books. They reel me in, and I can’t stop thinking about what’s happening in the story when I’m not reading it. A technical book about gardening or creating apps wouldn’t hold my attention the same way at all.
But for you, it might be the total opposite. Read what you like. And if reading an entire book seems daunting, start with short stories, or even a magazine.
Check out my recent reading lists for book inspiration.
2. Read before bed
Before I started reading at bedtime, I was averaging about 4 books per month. After I started reading for 20ish minutes before falling asleep, I started averaging 6 book a month. All with that one simple change.
Since we know that looking at your phone before bed can destroy your sleep, it’s a good idea to cut out screen time. Reading is so much more relaxing than checking email or scrolling through social media anyway.
3. Or first thing in the morning
I always hit the snooze button for the equivalent of 20 minutes in the morning. The bed just feels too comfy to leave. It’s not even like I go back to sleep really. More like I’m just wasting time, stalling getting up for just a little bit longer.
If you’re like me, start keeping a book nearby (which is especially easy to do if you read before you fall asleep), and read for those 20 wasted minutes every day.
Heck, if you started reading 20 minutes before bed, and 20 more in the morning, that’s over 4 hours of reading a week. Without cutting back on anything important.
4. Watch less TV
You knew I was going to say it. According to the New York Times, the average American spends 5 hours a day watching television. Yikes! You might be watching more TV than you think.
Even if you just cut out one episode of The Office per day, you could easily add 20 more minutes of reading to your daily life.
It really does all add up.
5. Read while you eat
Hopefully you sit down to eat 3 meals a day. If not, stop wolfing down your food while standing over the sink. Take a load off and try doing a little reading while you eat.
If you’re eating with another human, this might be rude, but it works perfectly if you eat some of your meals alone. A good book during your lunch hour can be a nice distraction from a stressful workday.
6. Keep reading material with you all the time
Get in the habit of bringing a book wherever you go. Opportunities can pop up when you least expect it.
I’ve read while stuck by a train, in a long line at the grocery store, and while waiting for AAA to come and jump start my car.
If you don’t want to lug around a big book, try getting the FREE Kindle Reading App for your phone. Since you always keep your phone with you, you’ll have reading material on hand at all times. The app also works on your iPad or tablet.
Also make sure you’ve got your glasses with you if you need them to read. They’re no good on the night stand while you’re on the train. If you need more of an incentive then treat yourself to a nice new pair of Tom Ford glasses.
7. Read during your commute
If you have a commute to work (and you’re not driving), bring something to read. It’ll help pass the time, and distract you from that ‘wasted time’ feeling that commuting brings.
If you do drive to work, try listening to audio books instead. Amazon has a FREE 30 day trial to Audible right now. Audio books are a very easy way to incorporate books into your life without taking time away from anything else.
8. Spend less time on social media
How much value do you think social media really adds to your life? Does it help you learn a new skill or make you feel accomplished, like reading can?
If not, maybe you could cut back on some of that mindless scrolling, and read for a little while instead. Stop caring what your coworker from two jobs ago is up to, and do something that will add meaning to your life.
Related reading: 10 Benefits of a Social Media Detox
9. Just start!
As with any new habit, starting it can be the most daunting part. Try not to think about it dramatically (ie. I’ll read when my kids are grown and gone), and just find a book and read it for 5 minutes.
The simple act of just starting something always launches a kind of momentum. The key is not to overthink it.
Related article: 12 Habits That Just Might Change Your Life
10. Set reading goals
If you’re the kind of person who thrives on setting goals, reading can be one of them. Here are some reading goals you can set:
- A certain number of books per month or year
- X amount of pages per day
- A specific number of reading minutes per day or week
- Read an entire series (ie. Harry Potter)
- Read all the books by a certain author
- Do a reading challenge (Here are 12 of the best reading challenges.)
Check out Goodreads for tons of book recommendations. You can also ask questions in their Community, and read book reviews from fellow readers.
11. Join (or start) a book club
Make reading a more social activity by discussing the books you read in a group setting. It can inspire you to read more, and help keep you motivated to finish your book in a certain time frame.
You could also meet some fun new friends, gain a different perspective on what you read, and hear about new books. Plus, there’s usually snacks. : )
12. Schedule time to read
I know, that makes reading sound like a chore. But adding reading time to your calendar will help ensure you actually fit it in. We are more likely to accomplish something when we add it to our to-do list or schedule.
After the first couple times, you’ll be so happy that you blocked out time in your day to incorporate that intentional downtime.
If you want your kids to start reading more, schedule in a screen-free time slot where the whole family reads. Or does some other quiet activity so you can read.
13. Set reminders
If you’re easily distracted or forgetful, try setting a reminder on your phone to trigger you to read. For instance, you could set an alarm to go off every evening at 10:00 to remind yourself to do your 20 minutes of reading before bed.
If you plan to start reading in the morning while hitting snooze, set a reminder on your phone to prompt you to start reading instead of dozing in and out.
14. Read more than one book at a time
Obviously, you can’t literally read two books at the very same time, but if you have more than one book in progress at once, you will probably have more books read by year’s end. I usually have both an ebook on my Kindle and a physical book from the library going on at once.
You could read an inspirational or motivational self-help book in the morning to start your day with the right mindset, and relax with a novel in the evening.
Since variety is the spice of life, you can be excited about two books at once, making you want to read all the more often.
15. Practice speed reading
Did you know that you can actually learn how to read faster? Like, a lot faster. If you’re serious about getting a lot more reading done, check out some tutorials on speed reading.
If you are just reading for relaxation, and the sheer enjoyment of it, you might not care how fast you read. But if you have a lot of reading you need to get done for work or college, speed reading might come in handy.
This is perfect for you overachievers out there! Here’s how to learn to read 300% faster.
16. Read in the bathroom
This ‘how busy people find time to read’ tip is brought to you by my husband. If you seriously can’t find any other time in the day to read, he suggests reading whilst you use the bathroom.
‘Nuff said. : )
17. Quit reading random articles
Instead of getting side-tracked reading whatever random article you come across while aimlessly perusing the internet, use your time more intentionally. If you check out news sites or click over to articles from Facebook, make sure the content is really want you want to be absorbing.
You’ll obviously need to cut back on something else in order to make time to read. Make sure you’re allocating your time to something that will add value to your life.
18. Don’t buy books
If the expense of buying books is keeping you from reading as much as you’d like, find ways to read for cheap or free. Most libraries allow you to request the books you’d like to read. Many of them are part of bigger library systems that loan books between each other.
If you prefer to own your books instead of having to return them, libraries also often sell used books for $1 or so. Mine has a couple carts full of them for sale in the lobby.
Thrift stores are also an excellent place to buy used books. Check out these 27 thrift store hacks that make thrift shopping much more enjoyable.
You can also check out Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program where you can read as many included ebooks as you want. If you have Amazon Prime, they’re are a lot of Kindle books included with Prime reading.
If you don’t have Prime, click here to get a 30 day FREE trial.
19. Find small pockets of time
You’d be amazed how much reading you can fit in during very small periods of time. Since now you know to carry reading material with you all the time, get creative with those small windows in your day.
If you have to wait a few minutes before your dentist, doctor, or hair appointment, pull out your book, or open up the Kindle app on your phone. Read during those pockets of time when you’d normally check your email for the thirteenth time that day, while you’re on the treadmill, or when you’re getting a pedicure.
If your kids are in sports, or music lessons, or karate, read while you’re sitting in the waiting room. There’s so much time in the day that we don’t properly utilize. It just takes some paying attention to how you’re actually spending your time.
Even just 5 minutes twice a day adds up to over an hour per week of reading.
20. Embrace e-readers
I admit that I had an attitude against e-readers (such as the Kindle or Nook) for a long time. I’m a big fan of holding an actual book in my hands. Even after I got this e-reader for my birthday a few years back, I held off reading on it for quite a while.
But then I signed up for the Kindle First Reads program, and started getting a free ebook each month from Amazon. I also got the free Kindle app for my phone, and started really warming up to digital reading.
The nice thing is that the app and my Kindle Fire are synced up to each other, so when I read ahead on one of the devices, the other is notified, and takes me to the new correct page. Even if I forget to bring a book with me somewhere, I can always read on my phone.
Another benefit of having an e-reader, is that you don’t need any external light nearby in order to read. The screen is lit, and you can control how dim or bright you want it. This means that I can read in bed without having the lamp disturb my husband. Nor do I have to bother reaching over to turn off the light when I start dozing off.
My e-reader has a cover that turns the Kindle screen on when I open it, and off when I close it. What an effortless system!
Wrapping it up
I hope these tips on how to find more time to read have inspired you to tweak your schedule a little bit to incorporate reading. The key takeaway is that we all fill our time in different ways, but even the busiest people can make time to read with a little creativity and time management.
The truth is that we all need to fit relaxation time into our day. Consider reading as a fun and entertaining way to spend that time!