PQ How-To: How to Make Time for Reading

At the tail end of January, it’s always interesting to see how many people have the will power—or the sheer bloody-mindedness—to keep their New Year’s resolutions going strong. For those of us who are bookishly inclined, a fair number have probably resolved to read more in 2015. It is also probable that we’re already feeling a bit behind in our reading lists. (*cough* My bedside to-read list looks like a mini-library *cough*) But the fact of the matter is, 35% of people who make resolutions break them by the end of January, so it can be tough to hold onto that reading schedule.

If you feel yourself slipping on your resolve to read more, here are a few tips to stay on track.


1. Be reasonable.

Glasses and a watch.

Time is the crusty old nun of life–a stern taskmaster that never lets you get away with anything.

You know your schedule better than anyone. If you work 80 hours a week, take care of three kids and a dog, and have skydiving lessons on Thursdays, you probably can’t commit to reading, say, a book a week. (Also, if you are doing all of that, like, sheesh. Good for you.) But if you keep your goals attainable—say a chapter or two a week—you’re less likely to get frustrated, feel overwhelmed, or fall behind. What’s that saying about eating an elephant? Do that.


2. Make it a habit.

Two children reading a book.

Disclaimer: Your children will not look like this.

Set aside a block of time during the day and call it reading time. Curl up with a good book, a cup of coffee, a furry critter or what have you and turn some pages. If reading time becomes a habit, you’ll be less likely to skip it or forget it, and pretty soon you’ll be reaching for a book at the appointed time without even having to think about it. If you have little ones, let them join in the fun. It’s never too early to foster a love of reading. (Also, quiet time! You can thank me later.)


3. Take advantage of your wait.

Man dozing.

This is not an efficient use of reading time.

We spend a lot of time waiting in our lives—waiting in lines, waiting for public transit, waiting on hold, waiting for your chronically late friends and family members to arrive (you know who you are!) and so on. Take advantage of those moments by keeping a book handing. Now, I’m not saying you need to carry a paperback in your purse or pocket at all times, but read a chapter during your lunch hour, or switch off the boob tube and read for an hour before bed. Read during your afternoon caffeine break. Do as someone-who-shall-not-be-named and read *ahem* while occupying the lavatory. (Seinfeld fans: “It’s been flagged!” You’d be surprised by how quickly short spans of reading time can add up.


4. Embrace the peer pressure.

Woman nagging man

“Oh, you didn’t read this month’s book club pick? Judging you. Judging you SO HARD.”

If going it alone isn’t working for you, join a book club. Making yourself accountable for reading a book by a certain date could help if you routinely blow off reading time to binge-watch Orange Is the New Black. And just think of all the judgy glares you’ll be avoiding.


5. Read what you love.

"Guys, guys, guys! The latest space cowboy erotica is out! I win at life!"

“Guys, guys, guys! The latest space cowboy erotica is out! I win at life!”

This is maybe the most important tip of all. If you’re not into reading the latest critical literary darling, don’t waste your money. If you love reading cheesy romance novels, embrace your inner bosom-heaving damsel and go for it. If fantasy’s more your thing, wield that bright, bold cover with pride. Don’t let snobby readers dictate which you spend your valuable time on—I can pretty much guarantee you’re having a lot more fun reading than they are.


Do you have any tips on keeping your read-more resolutions? Share them in the comments below.


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The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.