Finding Time To Read
Nobody starts a degree in English without expecting to pick up a book or twelve. What they don’t tell you is how quickly the pressure of two books a week, plus articles, plus unspecified quantities of ‘Further Reading’ can turn your favourite pastime into something closely resembling a chore. Or how easy it can be to end up feeling like the last thing you want to do on your downtime is pick up a book.
I’ve spent the best part of a year trying to figure out the balance. And as the pile of unread books on my shelf stacks up, so to do the ways I’ve learned to find time for reading.
That’s the secret, really – find time. Trying to make time in an already packed schedule is a great way to find yourself counting pages… English student or not, hopefully these tips on time management can help you to get back into books, the same way they’ve helped me!
1. So first up… It might seem completely obvious, but the first step in finding time to read and enjoy doing it is to make sure you’ve picked up a book you can get into. Getting lost in the story is the goal for most fiction readers; don’t waste time struggling through Wuthering Heights just because you feel you ‘should’ be reading Classics. I’m of the opinion that a huge chunk of literary ‘worth’ is measured in enjoyment (with the exception of Fifty Shades of Grey, since that shit should be read by exactly no-one). Get into a book, and you’ll find yourself searching for reasons not to be reading.
2. Make the most of ‘transit’ time; if you’re on the bus or train, go for a book instead of your headphones. If you’re watching your dinner cook through the oven door, try watching pages. You’ll be amazed by how many pockets of time you can find – even if you only manage a few pages, you’re still #winning. ‘Finding time for reading’ doesn’t have to mean allowing hours on end. Just make sure you always have a book with you
3. Keep a book by the bed, and actually PICK IT UP. I’m more guilty than anyone of taking my laptop or phone to bed, or simply refusing to put head-to-pillow until I’m about to drop. As a kid, I used to love reading in bed – before lights-out or under the cover with a torch (hastily stuffed under the pillow in the event of approaching parents). So I often find myself wondering why I struggle to raise any sort of enthusiasm for bedtime reading now. Maybe it’s that a year of student life has been enough to convince me beds should be used for the exact opposite of work – she says, as if the only men in my bed this calendar year have been named anything other than ‘Ben & Jerry’… No, seriously – read in bed. Make it the last thing you do before turning off your light, or the first thing you do when you wake up. Even better, keep the book close enough that you don’t even have to leave bed to reach it.
4. Bored? Restless? Nothing to do? READ! Very few things seem more pointless complaining about than boredom when you have a room full of unread books; I know this, because I do it. Frequently. Thereby adding to the growing list of issues I’ve taken with my behaviour, with sweet-fuck-all intention to sort out. Take advantage of any and all time you have spare – if you’re at a loose end and you’re not reading, you can hardly claim you ‘don’t have time’ to do it!
5. Prioritise reading. Simple as that. If you want in on the simple pleasure of just holing up with a book and blocking out the rest of life’s proverbial crap, you actually need to want to do it. As in, more than you want to be checking Facebook, or mainlining episodes of Made in Chelsea from inside your duvet. Never procrastinate on procrastination; it’s taken me nigh-on twenty years to realise that reading is guilt-free time wasting, and I quite honestly struggle to think of many things I’d rather be doing.
How do you find time to read? Share your tips below.