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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

Here's the Secret to Finding Time in Your Busy Schedule to Read—for Fun!

A few months ago, the thought of finding time to leisure read seemed laughable. Sure, I’ve finished books that were mandatory for college courses, but reading for pleasure was an alien concept. Between my to-do list, my deadlines, and my complete lack of “me time”—picking up a book and reading for fun felt impossible.

And yet, I know that tons of super successful people find time in their schedules to read (as evidenced by lists like this one and this one). So, there must be ways that people—even the ones with the longest to-do lists—are doing it.

After spending hours and hours trying different strategies, I’m excited to share that I’ve completed 11 books over the past three months—and am currently reading a 12th. I’m even more excited to share the hacks that have helped me make reading for pleasure a reality.

1. Combine it With an Existing, Enjoyable Habit

Entrepreneur and writer James Clear introduced me to the concept of “habit stacking”—and I give this strategy total credit for getting my bookish lifestyle started. According to Clear, “the quickest way to build a new habit into your life is to stack it on top of a current habit.”

Since I’ve always loved breakfast, I decided to “stack” the new habit of reading for 30 minutes on top of my existing one of going to cafes and eating fried eggs. Whereas I used to spend these meals swiping through my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, I now use that time to read. Even if you’re not a breakfast person, think of current, enjoyable habits in your life that you could add reading to. For example, read when you’re commuting on public transportation, when you’re waiting for dinner to cook, or when you’re just winding down under your covers before going to sleep.

2. Share Your Monthly Reading Goals With a Friend

At the beginning of each month, my friend and I share our reading lists and make sure to hold each other accountable to finishing them. In addition to that, I also tell my social media followers what books I’m planning to get through. That way I’m not just accountable to my friend, but also to a ton of internet strangers.

Fun fact: After tweeting my first reading list with an image and “mentioning” a few authors, one of them started following my account and another asked me to share my thoughts on his book. So, even if you don’t need accountability in your reading life, consider posting your list online to build connections with writers you admire.

Also, this is a stretch, but who knows when an important person out there—perhaps a future recruiter—will stalk me on Twitter and ask about a book I said I would read, but didn’t actually get to.

3. Only Allow Yourself to Buy a New Book for Every Book You’ve Finished

Although I never read much until recently, I did have the bad habit of buying books—books that would only collect dust on my shelves. I’ll assume that I’m not the only one with this problem, so I propose a solution that will help you both read more and save money.

No matter how tempted you are to purchase the new release that appeared in your local bookstore or on the homepage of your Amazon account, don’t—not unless you’ve recently finished a book from your reading list. It’s that simple.

What strategies do you use to make time or motivate yourself to read more? And what’s the dream number of books you hope to read every month? Let me know on Twitter!

Photo of woman reading courtesy of Shutterstock.

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