In early 2021, the Pew Research Center surveyed American adults and found that about a quarter (23%) had not read a book in whole or in part in the past year. This statistic was accurate whether the materials were printed, electronic or audio.
As someone who loves to read, this is incredibly disappointing. Not only is reading enjoyable, but it’s also one of my favorite ways to decompress, learn something new, and expand my imagination. Additionally, research shows that reading also has the power to;
- Strengthen your brain
- Increase your ability to focus
- Build your vocabulary
- Helps prevent age-related cognitive decline
- Relieve depressive symptoms
- Prepares you for a good night’s sleep
And reading could help you live longer. In short, reading is one of the best things you can do for your overall health and well-being.
At the same time, I understand why so many people don’t read as much as they should. It can be difficult to find time to do other things when juggling work, family and social responsibilities. But, no matter how busy your schedule is, you can always make time to read. And it all starts with adding your book list to your calendar.
Set realistic goals.
“Before you put pen to paper and get carried away with lofty ideas about how much you want to read this year, it’s important to open your calendar and take a few things into consideration,” suggests Madeleine Coyne. for In truth. “Are there certain months or weeks of the year when you are particularly busy and would have little or no time to read, for example, busy work weeks, holidays, a wedding or an event milestone in life (like having a baby)?”
List each book you want to read and take it into account when planning your year.
“There is nothing more discouraging than setting a goal and not achieving it; so it’s essential that your reading goals are as realistic as your health and fitness goals,” she adds. “Do you have time for one book a month?” A book every two months? Two or three books a month?
Be flexible about how many books you want to complete. And take the time to think carefully about how many books you can realistically complete.
Next, Madeleine recommends that you do the following to establish an annual reading plan;
- After determining the number of books you plan to read during the year, it can be fun to break that number down into different genres or types of books you want to read.
- Tracking every book you read throughout the year is key to staying on track with your reading plan. For example, adding a reading list to your planner or tracking your process online through Goodreads.
- Whenever you set a goal, it can often be helpful to reward yourself with small incentives to encourage you to follow through.
Cut out your reading goals.
“Do you want to read a book in 30 days?” asks Choncé Maddox in a previous Calendar article. “Set your reading goals by deciding how many pages you want to read in one read.” It’s like giving yourself a deadline; that’s basically what you do.
As an example, last summer, “I gave my son the task of reading a book of larger chapters, and his goal was to read one chapter a day,” Maddox adds. “He was able to finish the book in three weeks if he followed that plan. Using this strategy can make you feel less overwhelmed and push you to raise the bar with each session.
Block reading time.
Want to make reading a daily habit? Determine how much time you can devote to reading. And, then, in your calendar, block off that time for reading.
For some, that might be 15 minutes during their morning routine or the half hour before bed. Others may decide to block from 1:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. For me, it may be a little more, a little less, depending on the day.
Whatever time you devote to reading, the idea is that this block of time is reserved for reading, nothing else. Personally, I turn off my phone during this time. And, if possible, I find a quiet, undisturbed place.
Actively establishing healthy habits is the first step towards creating them. And to encourage a reading habit, set a schedule where you focus solely on the book.
Remember that habits take time to form, usually about a month. Try not to get discouraged. Keep setting aside time for reading, and eventually you’ll find yourself a book without having to intentionally set aside time for reading.
Establish a reading schedule.
“No matter how hard you try, sometimes it’s hard to stick to your plan to finish this list of books,” writes Esther Lombardi at ThoughtCo. For example, the size of the book you have chosen may overwhelm you. You may be distracted by other projects. Or, you may have “just let the habit of reading slip away until you’ve forgotten much of the plot and characters; and, you feel like you might as well start over.
Here is a solution,” adds Lombardi. “Create a reading schedule to stay motivated.”
- Create a reading list of books that interest you.
- Set a date when you will start reading.
- Your reading list can be organized according to your order to read the books.
- Set your daily reading goal. Assuming you read five pages a day, first count the pages of the book you are reading.
- Next to the start date you have chosen, write the number of pages (1-5) on paper. Also, writing your schedule on a calendar is a great way to track your reading progress since you can cross off the dates you finished reading for that day.
- Follow each breakpoint as you go through the book. If you want to make it easier to read, you can mark the breakpoints in your book with sticky notes or pencil marks.
- The book will rearrange itself as you read it, so at any time you can decide to stop and start reading a new chapter or a new section of the book.
- The next book in your reading list can then be chosen once the schedule for the first book has been determined.
“Follow the same book pagination process to determine your reading schedule,” advises Lombardi. “Remember to write the page numbers next to the appropriate date on a piece of paper and on your calendar.”
Identify available pockets of time.
Do you remember when you blocked dedicated reading time? You’ve most likely used the time tracker or a productivity journal to figure out when to read. For me, I like to read before bed and also during productivity lulls like after lunch.
But, is there another benefit to tracking your time? You can identify small periods of time to insert some reading.
You might want to pull out your book or open the Kindle app on your phone before your appointment with the dentist, doctor, or hair salon. Then, on your way to and from work, take advantage of this time to read. Alternatively, if your kids are taking sports or music or karate lessons, you can read while you wait.
We don’t use the time we have each day properly. But, by taking note of how you spend your time, you may be able to incorporate more reading, even if it’s only five minutes a day.
Replace time wasters.
Talking about how you use your time, take a minute, go through your schedule and find blocks of time that are taken up with time wasters. For example, instead of watching TV or browsing social media for an hour after dinner, use that time to read.
You don’t necessarily have to completely eliminate these activities. However, you could at least reduce the time spent on it. For example, cut your time spent watching TV by 30 minutes so you can read and follow your favorite show.
Reduce information overload.
What exactly is information overload. It dates back to the 3rd or 4th century BCE, but it means exposure to excessive amounts of information and data by today’s definition. It’s usually caused by everything from emails, social media, podcasts, videos, and workplace demands. As a result, brain activity plummets as if a circuit has tripped.
You want to reduce information overload to increase your productivity in most cases. But, it’s also useful if you want to read more often. After all, if you’re absorbing information from random, useless content all day, you don’t have the energy or ability to understand more from books.
But how does a calendar help you solve this problem? Well, you can set time limits for collecting information. For example, devote only 15 minutes a day to reviewing articles on news sites or social networks.
Another suggestion? Use batch processing. For example, check your inbox only three times a day – before work, during lunch, and at the end of the workday.
Join your peers.
Find your community or your online friends who read the same book. You will be motivated to keep reading frequently by following their discussions and insights. I highly doubt you’d be the only band member behind on their reading, would you?
When you find a group, book the meeting on your calendar to make it a priority. However, you don’t want to stress about it if you’re short on time. In this case, you can choose to meet with a monthly book club instead of a weekly club.
Set calendar reminders.
You can set a reminder that you will receive on your phone in your calendar app. A reminder comes in handy if your schedule is hectic and you live by your reminders like me.
You can, for example, set the alarm at 9:30 every night to remind you to read 20 minutes before you go to sleep. Then, in the morning, set a phone reminder to urge you to read – never hit the snooze button – it’s a waste of time. Better yet, have a queued audiobook that plays when you get up and when you start your car.
If you have a 30-minute window between meetings, set a reminder to read for 15 minutes and use the remaining time to prepare.
Image credit: RODANE Productions; pexels; Thank you
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