According to my Goodreads reading challenge I’ve read 129 books this year as of late October. Now, some of those are comic books and they go very quickly but I have finished 7 full length non fiction and memoir books and 11 full length novels including the 1000 page opus 1Q84. That’s about a full length book every two weeks in addition to the 111 volumes of comics and graphic novels I’ve chewed through this year. (I don’t count individual issues so each volume is between 100 and 500 pages on average). So how did I go from finishing 30 books a year to closing in on 150 even with a full time job and other obligations? Here are 5 easy ways to tackle that to be read (TBR) list.
Analyze your free time
The first step is to take a good hard look at how you’re actually spending your down time. You may feel like you have no free time left between work, school, chores, social life, and so on but I guarantee you there are pockets of time you’re wasting. The main one is mindless scrolling on your phone. Download an app usage analyzer and monitor what your biggest time sucks are. I discovered I was spending over an hour total a day just on reddit alone. Now, there’s nothing wrong with scrolling through some dank memes when you’re waiting for the microwave to beep but if you find that a couple minutes frequently turns into 30 you might want to cut that time down for something more productive. I used app detox to set usage limits on apps like reddit and facebook to keep me aware of when to set the phone down. All of a sudden there was an extra hour or so in most of my days to pick up a book instead!
Stop watching reruns
How many times have you rewatched The Office? Be honest with yourself. There are 201 episodes of The Office, averaging 22 minutes per episode. That means you’ve spend 4,422 minutes or 73.7 hours per completion cycle of watching The Office. If you watched all the way through twice this year you’ve spent 6.1 days watching The Office. That’s almost an entire week! Maybe you’re not an office fan but you get the point. Whatever your comfort binge is (mine is The Simpsons) you can probably cut back a little bit. Turn off auto play on all of your video streaming apps. Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, any of them. When an episode ends ask yourself do you really want to play the next one or could you be doing something else like reading that book that’s been sitting on the counter all week? Even cutting back on one episode per day gives you time to read a chapter in that book.
Learn to not finish a chapter
So you found an extra half hour by cutting out an episode of a show you have memorized. Great! But this chapter is 37 pages long and there’s no way you can finish it before bed time. Well, don’t finish the chapter. If you only read when you have a full hour or more to dedicate to a book you’re never gonna find the time. Get comfortable with stopping mid chapter and you can read for 15 minutes at a time and get through a book in more manageable sections. It’s going to feel strange at first just stopping at a paragraph break but being able to read on your short lunch at work is a much more satisfying use of that time than scrolling through your social media and getting jealous of how everyone else seems to not be at work right now.
Learn to not finish a book
One of the best things you can do as a reader is allow yourself to not finish every book you start. Some books are just not for you. Some books are just not good. If you start a book and don’t like it it probably isn’t going to get any better by the end. Give yourself permission to not waste weeks of your life dreading picking it up. This will save you tons of time to find a book you’ll actually enjoy reading and avoid the dreaded bad book slump.
Don’t start a book blog
I love reading. I love writing about what I read. So I started this book blog. The irony has been that since I’ve started it I’ve cut into my reading time quite a bit, by at least an hour a day. But since I had already gotten my reading time up so high I felt that this was a worthy sacrifice because I do find value in this blog and interacting with all of my new followers. You’re all awesome and if you find something that you value more than reading then use these tips to make time for that as well.
Comment below with what you value even more than reading, what your favorite time suck that you refuse to give up is, or what books you did not finish. Happy reading!