How do you make time for reading when life is busy? These mini reading habits are the perfect baby steps towards reading more books during your still-so-busy days.
If you get frustrated watching your To Read pile get longer as your To Do list grows and grows, then this is for you.
As a life-long book lover, I was blindsided by the effect my darling children had on my reading life. For years I struggled to read much more than their picture books and read-alouds. Life was so busy and I was so tired, reading for my own pleasure kept falling farther and farther down on my priority list.
It's exactly why I started the Peanut Blossom Book Club for Recovering Readers. Even after so many years of hosting our amazing group, prioritizing reading during life's extra-busy seasons is a challenge for me.
Then last week, the amazing Pam Barnhill hosted Abby Wahl on her "Your Morning Basket" podcast to talk about developing mini habits to become better readers. Their conversation was everything I needed to hear.
If you're as busy as I am, I wanted to share some key takeaways, but I highly recommend listening to the entire thing when you have the time.
How to use mini habits to read more books this year:
1. Carry your book anywhere you carry your phone
No matter where I am in the house, you can always find my phone an arm's length away. In my pocket, my purse, or on the table next to me, my phone is only a quick grab away.
From this moment forward, my phone and my books are going to be joined at the hip. I won't carry one without the other.
I tested this new habit over the weekend and was amazed how often I reach for my phone out of boredom. Not having to get up and go find my Kindle meant I grabbed the book for a page or two while:
- waiting for the pasta water to boil
- waiting for my kids to use the bathroom before we ran an errand
- waiting for my husband to join me for our morning coffee chat
You don't realize just how much waiting you do in a day until you consciously choose that book instead of your phone. But without your book a quick grab away, you'll waste those precious minutes fetching it. Which actually means, you'll stay put and grab your phone instead.
2. Set an "Alexander's No Good, Very Bad Day" Reading Goal:
I literally laughed out loud when Abby talked about what the average reader's goals look like. If your reading goal requires a perfect day with perfect habits, then just like me, you need to reassess.
Instead, imagine your worst, busiest day. What tiny amount of reading could you handle on a day that looked like that? There's your new reading goal.
Because whether your habit is to just read ONE page or read for just five minutes, chances are very likely that on most days once you pick your book up, you'll actually read much more than that.
But on your worst days? You're still making reading a priority and you get to collect your shiny gold star sticker.
3. Read more than one book at a time
This mini habit utterly surprised me. For years, my brain couldn't handle juggling more than one plot at a time. I would focus on a single book and then move on to the next.
Then I found the Outlander series. Reading all about Claire and Jamie's adventures requires an incredible amount of time and energy. As much as I love the Scottish historical romance, I need a bit more variety in my life.
Now, the current Outlander is my pick for an Audible book while washing dishes or running errands but I have another book going on my Kindle for at night. Tag teaming between more than one book at a time gives me options for when I'm not that into a book in that moment.
Do you ever find yourself choosing ANYTHING to do other than picking up the book you're currently in because you're a bit bored with it? This mini habit helps fix that for you. Put the boring book aside for the moment and pick up something else to read. You're not officially abandoning the first book. This isn't an official break-up. It's just you actively protecting your desire to read.
4. Read in the bathroom, on purpose:
Let's be honest. You've got your phone in there. You're texting or mindlessly scrolling social media. You're not alone.
Leave your phone outside the bathroom and choose a book instead. In fact, Abby suggests you simply leaving a book right there in the bathroom so you don't forget.
Maybe your bathroom book takes you a lot longer to read than anything else. Who cares?? It's one more book on your annual read pile.
And DO NOT fool yourself into thinking you'll read a book if it's on your phone. I'm guessing that's not the case or you wouldn't be reading an article on how to read more books.
5. Your new mantra: "I am worth 10 minutes!"
Sometimes the biggest obstacle between us and our books is our own mindset. We're so busy tackling that To Do list, we convince ourselves there isn't any time. Then the day is over and we're exhausted from working so hard.
What would happen if you staked your claim to just 10 minutes in the middle of the day and you didn't wait until bedtime to give yourself a break?
Mommy Guilt is real. I can always find something I should be doing for my family. But, I can guarantee they won't notice any difference if I take just 5 - 10 minutes for myself once or even twice a day. Or maybe they will notice . . . that they have a happier mom.
So what should you do now?
- Go and listen to the rest of Pam & Abby's podcast for even more inspiration on why you should be choosing to read more books this year. Find Pam's episode guide here.
- Come and join me for fun reading suggestions in the Peanut Blossom Book Club. Get all the 2021 book club details here.
- Add a Kindle to your wish list for your birthday, Mother's Day, or splurge and buy it for yourself. And then vow to carry it with you everywhere. Not sure which one to get? Read Which Kindle should I buy, the Paperwhite or the Oasis?