Making time to read – Setting priorities

When I chat to people about the importance of reading, something I hear very often is, “Yes, okay, but when can I find the time?”

Well, like most things, you don’t find time to read – you have to make time to read.

I would say that I’m a pretty normal person. I’m a GP, working two jobs (both part time), and I also have a young family. We have to fit in all the usual sorts of life things – school activities, sports, social lives, community work, paying bills, cleaning the house, eating meals! Yes, it can be hectic, and some days are crazy busy, but we make it work.

And, of course, I try to make time to read as often as possible.

Here are few tips that might help you to find time in your own life for the joy of reading.

Joy in the morning

When you wake up, do you immediately reach for your phone to check social media? There’s no problem if you do; it’s a transition activity, one that helps you to move from slumber to consciousness.

I’m certainly not against social media. I think it’s an important and valuable way to stay connected with friends, family and current events.

But why not treat yourself to a more leisurely wake up? You could make that first 15 minutes your reading time. What a great way to ease yourself into the day! Instead of stressing about international politics or being bored by celebrity gossip, reach for a novel.

On the road

No, please don’t read while driving!

That said, driving is the best place to listen to audio-books. Think that’s cheating? It’s not! I discuss audio-books below.

Commuting on public transport is definitely one of the best times to read. It’s one of those delicious periods of time where, often, you literally have nothing to do. But it’s all too easy to use that time playing a game on your mobile or sending a few work emails. I get it. You’ve had a long day, you want to do something mindless – or clear out some work so that it doesn’t weigh on your mind for the rest of the night.

I wrote previously about how reading can seem like hard work. That is definitely a state of mind and one that you can adjust. If you find the right book and get caught up in it, you will start to look forward to that commute home.

Tender is the night

And then, at night, at the end of a long day, after work, after dinner, the temptation is all too strong to settle down to watch TV or Netflix. Well, you know what you could be doing… Yep, you could read a book 😊

I’m not anti-television or anything, but maybe you could trim an hour or two off your viewing habits each week. That’s enough time to read a short novel. Believe me, it’s worth it.

Brave new world

If you’re still struggling to find time to read – and in today’s hectic world, I can’t blame you – there are other options.

Have you ever tried audiobooks? They’re not for everyone, and they can take a little getting used to, but they’re a great option especially if you spend a lot of time in a car. They’re becoming increasingly popular especially with young men, who for whatever reason feel reluctant to pick up a physical book.

Audiobooks are also great to listen to when you’re doing chores or exercising.

You can borrow audiobook MP3s from your local library, and many libraries actually allow you to download audiobooks directly to your phone using special apps.

All in the family

And of course, you can always read with your kids. Okay, okay, maybe you won’t read Wolf Hall this way. But then again, why not? When your kids are confident enough readers, you can sit side by side reading different books. Even if you don’t read directly to them, you’re still exhibiting good habits, plus reading your own book too!

Reading with your kids also allows you to tackle more complex books together, giving you each an opportunity to ask questions and engage with the text.

And actually, audiobooks can be listened to together as a family, either in the car or at home.

A personal matter

If reading is important to you – or if you want it to be important to you – then you need to prioritise it. Not over work or family or anything drastic like that – but maybe there are some things in your daily life that could be safely demoted.

My favourite time to read is read-aloud time with my 9 year-old daughter. We snuggle up on her bunk-bed and I read to her. It’s a great opportunity to read books that I think would resonate with her, but that are a bit beyond her reading level. She loves the one-on-one time, and I love getting swept away in quality children’s books. This time is probably another reason why, if you ever stumble across my Goodreads account, it’s top-heavy with children’s books.

The book we’re currently loving is:

The Fourteenth Summer of Angus Jack by Jen Storer

How’s it working for you? Are you stealing some time to read?