Last year I had a really difficult time getting through my reading goal of 30 books. This year I have managed to read around a book a week, which means that I am ahead of schedule. I’m hoping to keep up my momentum to complete both reading challenges that I’ve signed up for and keep up with my book clubs and grad school. My goal in all of this has been to make reading, or learning in general, a bigger part of our family culture. My husband and I are both in grad school so we are continually learning, but I wanted to make better use of my free time. I think making just a few changes have really helped.
Cancelling Cable: We have never been huge TV watchers, but cable would eat up at least a few hours on our weekends (Netflix is the more common culprit on weeknights). We have also realized that we can watch most of the things we did watch (just sports and HGTV, really) through streaming. It has been a great way to save both time and money!
Audio Books: We love audio books. We have a good library on Audible (though we are not currently subscribed), and we make use of our county library as well. This has probably been the biggest change in the way I read. It used to be so easy to just “watch” something on Netflix while I was eating, cleaning, and cooking, but this year I’ve made a concerted effort to listen to either a book or a podcast instead of having the constant stream of pop culture on in the background. I have gotten into such a habit of listening in the car that it always startles me when the radio is on. I’ve listened to at least six or seven audio books since January.
Commitments: I think sometimes that I’ve over-committed, but even if that’s true I’m still enjoying myself. I have committed to a Bible-reading plan, two book clubs, a reading challenge, and grad school. It’s a lot, but it keeps me constantly in books with no time wasted deciding what to read or making excuses. I know that I’m more productive when I have to be, so having these varying commitments helps me stay on track.
That’s it! Just a few changes, and a little discipline. I have been so excited to see it pay off, but one area of improvement that I see is that of spending time reading to my daughter. She loves books, and while I love reading to her I find that I rarely actually take the time to sit and just read with her! There are always other things to be doing, or I’m trying to snatch my own time away. I need to get better at being unselfish with my time and invest a little more time reading with her instead of trying to just distract her. I want reading to be part of her lifestyle too, after all.
The discipline has paid off by adding so much pleasure and productivity to my days. I can tell that it’s made a difference in my life in my creativity and even how I relax. It’s easier for me to just sit and read a book for longer periods of time. I am also more productive — it is far easier to multi-task when you’re listening, than if you need to look over to see what’s happening on a screen. I actually look forward to longer drives in the car or tasks that used to feel like drudgery. It has been an amazing part of my life this year, and I’m so glad that we live in a world with books.