4 Ways to Prioritize Reading in the Midst of a Busy Schedule
I love to read. I didn’t always love to read, but I got bit by the reading bug in late high school or college and ever since then, I’ve just loved to read. I used to love reading memoirs, but I’ve really expanded in the last few years to include all types of books from nonfiction to contemporary fiction to thrillers to historical fiction to romance and everything in between. BUT, if I’m being honest, it hasn’t always been easy for me to read lots of books. Life happens. I get busy (we all do) and other things start to take priority. After I started having kids, reading definitely went on the back burner and I wasn’t reading as much. I quickly noticed though that not reading was actually affecting my mental health. So, about three or four years ago I knew that I needed to start reprioritizing reading for the sake of my mental health and doing something for ME.
Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s true. Reading is one of those things that I can do for ME and I can just escape into the pages of a book and meet characters, learn something, or just enjoy being taken somewhere else for a bit. So, if reading was something that I knew was important to me and was something I could do for myself, then I had to figure out a way to prioritize it. It took some work, some practice, some trial and error, but after a few years, I’ve finally gotten into a good routine that works for me.
When I shared this week on Instagram that I read 55 books in 2020 and I did a quick review of the first seven books I read this year, I got dozens and dozens of messages from people asking, “HOW do you read so much? How do you have the time?!”
SO, I thought that I would share 4 ways for HOW I prioritize reading and how I’m able to read so many books in a year on top of, you know, Bible study and life and work and family and all the things.
1. I set reading as a daily goal on my task list
I am the kind of person who HAS to have a daily to-do / task list to keep me focused. This doesn’t necessarily work for everyone, but if I didn’t write down what I need to do each day, I would 1000% forget. So, I have reading as an actual task on my list each and every day. That way it reminds me that it is a priority for me and I can make the time.
2. I read / listen to a combination of audiobooks and physical books
For anyone that says listening to an audiobook is “cheating” – those people are liars. Audiobooks are TOTALLY a form of reading and they 100% count. Yes, listening to a book stimulates the auditory processing part of our brain while reading stimulates the physical processing of our brain… but in the end, we brain processes stories the SAME WAY. Here’s an article that actual dives into how our brains process stories via audiobooks or reading. (Here’s a link to the actual scientific study). Now there are some hardcore book people that will say that audiobooks don’t count, but I would highly agree to disagree on that point. Additionally, saying audiobooks don’t count can also be ableist as many people are, quite literally, unable to physically read a book and, therefore, can consume books via audiobook.
I pick and choose which books I listen to or which books I physically read. When it comes to audiobooks, the narrator can absolutely make or break the listening experience. And sometimes a book is MUCH better listened to than read. A couple examples that come to mind are Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and The Only Plane in the Sky: An oral history if 9/11 by Garrett Graff. Noah’s book is PHENOMENAL – he narrates it himself, and to hear HIM tell his own stories, do the different voices and accents of his family members is just a listening experience. I would 100% listen to it over and over again. In the case of Graff’s book, The Only Plane in the Sky, it has an over 40 person cast that read / voice different people and perspectives of 9/11. It’s incredibly powerful and by hearing the different voices of the people telling their stories makes it much more impactful overall.
On the flip side, some books are just better physically read. Romance novels I love to sit and get lost in, many non-fiction books I read physical copies of because I like to highlight and mark them up and take notes.
And sometimes, yes, I actually do a COMBINATION of the two. I will listen to the book while I read a physical copy. Does this make me a weirdo? Who knows. But it’s something I sometimes like to do if the situation warrants itself.
I also have had situations where I didn’t love a book that I was reading, so I downloaded the audio version and it totally changed the book for me. It really just depends.
In the end, doing a combination of reading and listening definitely helps me to accomplish reading goals! Because when I’m listening, I can do other tasks like laundry, painting (at the new house! haha!), cooking, outside tasks, etc. I can multi-task while also escaping into a beautiful story.
I know some people who ONLY listen to audiobooks… my husband is one of those people. He will maybe only read one or two physical books a year, but will plow through audiobooks.
Either way, if you want to read and you can’t find the time, try audiobooks!
3. I read for AT LEAST 15 minutes day.
Like I mentioned in point one, I have to prioritize reading… and one of the ways I do that is reading every day for at least 15 minutes a day. Whether it’s 15 minutes before bed, or in the morning, or 5 minutes here or there… And often that 15 minutes turns into an hour (depending). I don’t watch a ton of TV and I try to limit my time on social media (although I for sure get sucked into Instagram and Facebook – I am not perfect!). But I just know that I’m happier when I get the chance to read.
I also LOVE taking baths and so that’s another way that I can unwind is with a hot bath and a good book. Cliche? Sure. But hey, it’s awesome for a reason.
4. I use Goodreads to motivate myself.
Here’s a link to my Goodreads profile if anyone wants to be friends on there! Goodreads is basically like a social network for readers! It’s how I find a lot of the books I want to read, get book suggestions, read and leave book reviews, and connect with other book lovers. They also have an annual reading challenge that you can participate in and seeing where I am in terms of my goal for the years helps to keep me motivated!
Okay, so there you have it… 4 ways that I motivate myself and prioritize reading! I hope this was helpful! Let me know – are you a reader? Do you prioritize reading?