Too busy to read? Never. You need books like you need food, water, and air. Books are necessary for growth and progression. However! There are many ways to eat, drink and breathe (maybe not breathe, but you get the point). So, don’t limit yourself. The way that you read in the last season may not be the way you read in this season.
Let’s define reading: digesting intellectually words and sentences intentionally preserved by someone for the benefit of someone else. Why is this important? Reading includes listening to books, serial books (sometimes called blogs or articles), digital books, physical books. In any one season, one type of “reading” will be easier than another. However! You can be a great reader in every season.
Here are some hacks for finding time to read:
- In your car - if you are a commuter, work in your truck, or drive kids around, audio books may be for you! You might say, audio books are too expensive. Au contraire! Two cost effective ways to listen to audio books: First, public library. You can actually check out CD sets or you can download the Overdrive app (be careful its addictive) and download as many audio books as you can handle. You can even listen on your phone! Second, an Amazon Audible subscription - like Overdrive but with a larger selection and monthly cost. My husband’s life CHANGED when he shut off ESPN radio and switched to books and podcasts. Why? Because he was using the in-between times to grow. Now that he doesn’t have a commute, the habit has stuck and much of what he uses to develop himself he listens to during the week.
- On your phone - this is wonderful for new parents or people who only get a few minutes randomly through the day. I found this hack during the baby stage with my first daughter. I couldn’t lay her down, at first because of my own desires and later because of hers. (And I have no regrets!) I needed a way to continue to read, because I’m obsessed! So, I downloaded the kindle app and was hooked. My bank account, however, was not impressed. So, I subscribed at first to Kindle Unlimited, promptly found it was not for me, and reversed course. My sweet spot was the Overdrive app. I have read so many amazing books this way, books I probably would not have read otherwise. It has redeemed time in the doctor’s office waiting room, in the airport waiting lots, and everywhere in between.
- Where you are - placement is key here. Have a book by the bed if you read in bed, by the toilet because we all know it doesn’t take you half an hour and you are just hiding in there from your wife and children. You can put a book by your desk, on the kitchen table or in the living room. If the book is there, you are more likely to pick it up and read! I tried this. When we first moved back to Louisiana, I placed a bookshelf in our bathroom and placed books I wanted to read and that I wanted my husband to read. I took away magazines and anything frivolous, so there was no competition. It worked! Why? Did we suddenly have more self control or commitment to growth? No! We just crafted an environment that would support and encourage our goals.
So, you have the time, but what about the motivation? And how about not just reading but reading AND growing? I wrote a blog about the types of books - and believe me - not all are equally created to help you! So, here are three ways to motivate yourself to read in every season.
Three ways to motivate yourself to read:
- Set a goal and tell someone. Don’t just say, “I want to read more.” When I hear “more” in a goal, I tune out. It won’t happen! More is a feeling, not a number. Pick a number of books, audio books, podcasts you’d like to digest in a month, year, quarter, whatever! And then tell someone, not someone who will let you off the hook but someone who will send you annoying emails and give you the look at family gatherings. That kind of accountability will give you external motivation when your internal motivation isn’t cutting it!
- Craft a specific why. If you are in a new season, you may need a new why. Reading great growth books can be just for pleasure, but if that is the case, you probably don’t need this post because you already have internalized these tools. For the rest of us, a new season will usually require a new why. As a student, choose a why that fits with your future career or provides a supporting expertise. As a new parent, maybe reading about childhood development or mindset or education would provide sufficient motivation. If you want to be promoted, maybe challenge yourself to read leadership books. At times, my why has just been to reignite a desire to learn - so I read only those books that both educated and inspired me to curiosity. Find your why, write it down, and go back to it!
- Keep track. Don’t just read and then wonder what you read, keep track. You can keep a list on your phone or in a journal. I like to write the book, date, one takeaway, if I’d recommend it and for whom. Keeping track will help you know if you reached your goal, but it will also show you patterns in your reading. Maybe you are reading too many novels and not enough spiritual growth. Or maybe you only read eschatology but nothing that would help you lead your family and business more efficiently. Keeping track will help you be an effective reader in every season.
What are some of your tips for reading in every season? Have there been seasons where it seemed impossible? What did you do? Or how would you approach that season today?