13 September 2015

How Do You Make Time to Read a Book a Week

When I began my book a week journey a little over 18 months ago, my commitment to myself was to enjoy more time for myself doing something important to me--reading. People have asked me over and over how I find the time because they don't have time to read much at all let alone a book a week. Really, it's the same as anything else you wish to devote time to. I prioritize time for reading. Some people enjoy cooking or baking or training for a marathon or hiking or playing music or making art or gardening or _______(fill in the blank). People make time for what they find important.

Here's how I make this one important part of my life work

1) I read what I'm in the mood to read. 
Instead of joining a book club and feeling obligated to read a particular title in a given week or month, I read what I feel like reading each week. Some weeks (in fact, most weeks) I read nonfiction. I'm inspired by the lives of other people, especially the stories of women who work hard or who overcome obstacles in their lives. Sometimes, I'm in the mood for professional texts and I let myself read and count those texts as part of my book a week goal too. Other times, I'm in the mood for fiction, especially fiction that transports me to another place (because I love to travel).

2) I always have reading material with me.
Last year I surprised myself by learning to read e-books like I never had before. While I still love a great paper book, e-books are just so convenient. I have multiple e-reading apps on my iPhone which is also connected to my i-pad. Most of the time my e-reading happens on the iPad, but if I don't have it with me when I'm waiting at the school to pick up my sons from cross-country practice, then I always have my phone with me and can access whatever book I'm reading there.

3) I let myself stop reading books I'm not enjoying.
Gone are the days when I must power through just for the sake of finishing a book. There are too many great books in the world to make myself finish reading something I'm not enjoying. Granted, I always give books the benefit of the doubt and I finish the majority of books I start, but if a particular title looked better by reading the cover, the back of the book and the reviews on Goodreads than it does when I read the first few chapters, I'll let it go. Sometimes I'll return to it in another year or month when it's of more interest to me. Other times, I just move on to a new title I like better.

4) I don't watch much television.
Television isn't very important to me like it is to so many others. I will watch some T.V., but I'm not one of those people who can't wait for the next episode of a favorite show (with the exception of the time I binge watched all of House of Cards in a single month). That month I fell behind in my reading, but I caught back up once the series was over and I re-committed myself to making reading top priority in my free time.

5) I don't give myself a hard time if I do fall behind.
At times, life happens and I do fall behind. Instead of stressing out or giving up, I commit to catching up as I can. Sometimes I catch up by giving myself one entire day on the weekend to avoid household chores and social outings. Other times I catch up by staying up too late to finish books I can't put down. Most of all, I don't beat myself up over falling behind because doing so would hinder my enjoyment of reading and my personal goal of reading an average of a book a week throughout the year.

6) I find ways to be active and to keep my brain stimulated.
Walking and reading have to be two of the best activities for the mind. Mentally and physically, I'm on top of my game and am a better mom, wife, employee and person when I make time to be active. Walking and hiking are my two favorite ways to be physically active. Reading provides an outlet for reducing stress in a way similar to walking and hiking, but the actual movement is necessary to me too. Exercise and reading have at least one thing in common. Both are good for us.

As a mom who also works outside the home, I not only balance home and work life but also community involvement and time for myself. By modeling the importance of balance and taking time to do what I enjoy I show my sons the importance of finding this balance in their own lives.

What about you? What's important in your life and how do you make time for what matters to you?