In the beginning of this year I set a resolution for myself that I would read more.
It’s something that I used to do a lot and truly enjoyed while growing up but that had become one of those things for which “I don’t have time”.
I not only enjoy reading but I also feel that it is a key habit to ensure maintenance of cognitive abilities, improving vocabulary and overall health and well-being. Especially in a fast-paced society as the one we all live in today, reading is a great way to escape to different worlds without resorting to social media, youtube and binge-watching series.
However, the reality is that, even though I believe all of these things, it was very hard to regain the habit of reading. I struggled with finding the time. I struggled with having the time but being too tired, with having the time but not opting for social media, youtube and binge-watching series, which all seem to take much less effort than reading, especially when our brain is somewhat addicted to these things already.
So, I decided to try one simple change: read in those moments when there is really nothing else to do and that we usually waste scrolling through our feeds.
I decided to use the minutes in my days, that are generally wasted, to read. These are also moments when I often felt a lot of stress and anxiety, which have decreased substantially thanks to this new habit. That is why I have decided to share this, in hopes that it may inspire positive change in your lives too!
The first thing I tried, and that has allowed me to finish several books this year, was to make the decision to read at least 10 pages each night. Every night, no matter how tired or how drawn to other distractions I was, I had to read at least 10 pages. I could read more if I wanted to, but never less than 10 pages. Surprisingly, I found myself reading more than 10 pages very often, either because I wanted to stop at the end of a given scene, or because I was feeling entertained and curious about what would happen next, and therefore didn’t feel like stopping. It has also helped me to focus on something other than the issues I will have to deal with on the following day or from the problems I have had on that day, allowing me to fall asleep with less stress.
You can also set a smaller goal for yourself, like reading 5 pages for example. The important thing is that having this implemented prompts you to start reading, and starting is always the most difficult part.
If you ride any type of public transport in your daily commute between your home and your workplace, then you can implement what I found to be the most effective way to start reading more. Even if you don’t live very far from your workplace, the amount of time that we spend in this daily commute really adds up. That is why I have decided to bring a book with me everyday and spend the totality of the time I spend inside a train or a subway reading instead of starring at my phone (when I don’t find a seating spot this becomes more difficult but I do my best). Again, this has helped me to get to work in a more calm state of mind, as well as arrive back home with decreased levels of anxiety, compared to before.
- Lunch Breaks
A third way to read more is to take control of other moments of your day that you have never thought of has having potential before. Although this is not always possible, in calmer days in the office I have also found time to read in my lunch breaks. Since I have implemented reading in my daily commute, I always have a book in my purse. Sometimes, when the transport arrives to the destiny, I am in a moment in the book that is exciting and that leaves me intrigued for what comes next, but I have to stop reading. Then, at lunch time I can keep reading where I had stopped.
- Waiting Rooms
Keeping a book with you and implementing this mindset of making use of these moments to read, no matter how short or long they are, is life-changing and makes you a much more patient person. For example, instead of increasing your levels of anxiety when waiting for an appointment in a doctor’s office, you focus on the book in front of you and let go of what you cannot control.
Just by making use of these moments, I have been able to read much more books this year, in comparison to past years! If you try any of these strategies or if you have your own strategies I would be happy to know about them, so let me know in the comments!