More Time to Read

clockWant to hear a depressing thought? You won’t be able to read all of the books you’d like to within your lifetime. Neither will I. It’s simple math—there just isn’t enough time. There are millions of books out there that I want to read. (Heck, there are hundreds of unread books on my Kindle that I want to read.) But I only have a finite amount of time—and once you subtract time devoted to family, work, sleep, and other commitments, the time left to read is relatively tiny.

I’ve been an avid reader most of my life, but the older I get, the more challenging it becomes to find time for reading. I’ve picked up some tips that I’d like to share with you. Here are five ways to make more time to read:

1. Read on your phone

Physical, paper books are bulky things (even paperbacks) that aren’t always convenient to carry around and are easy to forget to bring with you in the first place. Plus, if you’re anything like me, you don’t want your books to get bent and crushed in a bag. Digital books take up no physical space and, thanks to the fact that every digital book platform now has a phone app, your digital books are always with you. Waiting at the doctor’s office? Pull out your phone and read. Standing at the end of the line at the DMV? Read. Five minutes here and ten minutes there may not seem like much, but the pages add up. The smartphone is a gift for readers.

2. Listen to audiobooks

Do you have a long commute to work? Regularly drive to visit family or friends? Audiobooks are a great way to read during driving time. Now, I have heard some people claim that listening to an audiobook doesn’t “count” as reading. I disagree. Yes, listening to an audiobook is a different experience than reading the words yourself, hearing the sounds in your head, and seeing the layout of the page. But the essential experience—the words themselves—are the same. And in the case of a good audiobook, you get the added bonus of having those words read to you by a professional narrator. Driving isn’t the only time to listen to an audiobook. Try listening while cooking, exercising, or doing anything else where your hands and/or eyes are occupied.

Side note: If you find that your mind wanders when you try to listen to an audiobook, don’t give up. There seems to be an adjustment period. If you stick with it, you can train your brain to pay attention. Years ago, I found it challenging the first few times I listened to audiobooks. Now it’s second nature.

3. Wake up ten minutes earlier

This is a trick I actually learned by accident. I’ve never been a morning person, but my day job requires me to get out of bed pretty early. Coffee helps, but most mornings, I would press the snooze button until the last possible moment, irritating my wife to no end and leaving no time for coffee. I decided to try getting up ten minutes early so that I could sit quietly and drink a cup of coffee before going through my morning routine of shaving, showering, etc.

It worked. I found that I really treasured this extra ten minutes (especially if the kids remained asleep). Then I started to wonder—in addition to sipping coffee, maybe I could read a few pages of a book, too. I tried it, and most mornings, I still do it.

You won’t make much progress reading for ten minutes a day, but ten minutes are better than no minutes. Plus, if you love to read, you get the added benefit of starting every day doing something you love!

4. Change things up

This tip is less about finding time, and more about reading more quickly in the time you have. In my experience, if I’m pushing through a long novel, sometimes I get weary and my reading speed slows. A nice remedy for this is to read a few different types of books at the same time, so that you can change things up when you find your enthusiasm flagging. Set aside the thriller and pick up a nonfiction book about history. Or maybe a science fiction book or an urban fantasy. You might find that variety increases your enthusiasm, and therefore, your reading speed.

5. Try the Amazon Echo

I picked up an Amazon Echo Dot device during the last Black Friday sale. If you’re not familiar with the Echo products, the quick takeaway is that they are hands-free, voice-controlled devices that use Amazon’s Alexa AI (sort of similar to Apple’s Siri) to play music, tell you the weather, and do other things. One of the lesser known features that Amazon doesn’t really advertise is that Alexa can read your Kindle books to you. You’re not going to get the professional narration of an audiobook, but on the other hand, you don’t need to buy an audiobook. I haven’t tried this feature yet except for a quick test, so I can’t give a final verdict, but it’s definitely something I’m going to explore. The benefits should be similar to those of audiobooks.

In conclusion, you won’t have enough time to read every book—no one does—but using these five tips, you should be able to eke out enough extra time to read more of the books you want to read.

Do you have any tips or tricks to make more time to read? Share them in the comments section.

And if you’re looking for books to read, you should definitely check out mine, which are available here.