How to Read More Books When It Feels Like You Never Have Time

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Photo: Ursula Klawitter/Getty Images

Reading, in and of itself, is not a particularly difficult task: If you make it a goal to read more books, there’s not much you have to do besides pick one and settle in on a sofa somewhere.

The obvious problem, though, is finding the time. Becoming a more voracious reader by teaching yourself to read faster isn’t really an option, since research has shown that speed-reading doesn’t work — you can train your eyes to skim over the words faster, but you absorb less of what’s on the page. The only thing to do, then, is figure out how to clear out the time in your schedule.

But as Patrick Allan recently explained in Lifehacker, that’s a task that sounds more daunting than it really is. The goal should be to make it as easy as humanly possible to fit more reading time into your life — something that can be accomplished with a few simple tweaks to your routine:

I realized I wasn’t buying into reading because I had made it difficult to access it. My reading light was in a bad position where I couldn’t comfortably reach the switch from my bed. I would have to get up out of bed to turn it on or off. Also, my bed was too tall and against a window sill so I couldn’t prop myself up when I didn’t feel like holding a book above my head. And worst of all, I had a giant TV in my room. Why read when I can fall asleep to Bob’s Burgers every night instead?

The trick is to arrange things so that reading isn’t just easy, but easier than pretty much any other sedentary leisure activity. Allan, for instance, moved the TV to a different room, and kept his phone out of arm’s reach when he was sitting in bed (“Now there are only a few things I can do in my room: I can read, listen to music, or sleep”). If the thought of getting up to turn off the bedroom light once you’re done just seems like too much effort, get a bedside lamp. If you’re a person that constantly misplaces things, designate a specific spot to leave your book when you’re not reading it, so you don’t have to go through the effort of poking around your apartment.

And the idea isn’t limited to reading inside your home, either — you can make it easier to read everywhere. “There are usable minutes hidden in every nook and cranny throughout the day,” Allan wrote, “so I started taking my Kindle almost everywhere I go.” A subway commute is an obvious one, but you can also whip out a book while waiting on a long checkout line or for a restaurant table. If you’re an audiobook type, the opportunities are even more numerous: Slip on your headphones and (listen) while you’re at the gym, or walking from place to place. Soon enough, zooming through books will become the new normal.

How to Read More When It Feels Like You Never Have Time