How do you find time to read?
This is the inevitable first question I receive whenever I tell people about the Books of Titans reading project. I always start out my answer the same way:
The average American watches 4.5 hrs of TV per day….
But that’s not the whole story. My main focus is to remove “noise” from my life. Here’s how I do that and find time to read:
Little to none.
I will watch the occasional show with my wife, but on the whole, I do not watch TV. I get the same amount of joy (probably even more) looking at a football game score on the ESPN app the following morning rather than having spent 4 hours of my life watching every play (and about an hours worth of commercials). The average American watches 4.5 hours per day. I watch maybe 0.0000048 hours per day averaged out over the year.
One email per day.
I used to spend an hour each morning reading the paper. I look back with fondness on that time. But, it does not align with my goal of reading 52 books per year. Instead, I get one email each morning with a compilation of the previous days news. I realize this could set me up to tremendous bias getting everything from one source, but I’m ok with that. I’m not nearly close to being smart enough to be able to distinguish the relative importance or truth of any news story at the time it is published. I’d rather read about the news in a book format after time has passed. Maybe 3 years from now. Otherwise, I’m adding to the noise.
Limits and Downtime.
I made a change to my iPhone settings at the beginning of 2019. First, I limited social media to 30 min a day. That includes messaging apps, so the 30 min flies by. It’s helped me prioritize that time and not mindlessly go scrolling. The second change I made was to set downtime from 6pm to 6am. With downtime, I can only access a few really important apps like phone and Waze (I’m severely directionally handicapped). All other apps are greyed out with the shaming message of “are you sure…” when I try to open them. 6pm on is bedtime routine with my kids. And before 6am keeps me from checking my phone first thing when I wake up. These two changes have been very positive for me.
A book with me at all times.
I get a tremendous amount of my reading done in the car while one of our daughters is in the car sleeping wile my wife and other child are shopping. If I’m waiting for a ride or for anything while I’m out and about, I try to make the habit of pulling out my book instead of my phone.
Before/after family is awake.
I have a wife and two young children. I’m not going to get a lot of reading done during the day. I also have my own company and have other interests like running long distances. If I don’t wake up early before my family, I will not be reaching my goal of 52 books per year. Look, I don’t always do this well. Even if I’m not reading during the day, I may be thinking about what I’m reading, which takes my full attention away from my children. But, as much as I can, I try to read when it’s not interfering with time I should be spending with my children.
Create a list and share it.
The final impetus for reading is in creating a list and sharing it on social media. I’ve publicly shared what I hope to accomplish during the year. It encourages me to stick to the reading list. I have people who get book recommendations from me and others who say my project inspires their reading habits. I don’t want to let those people down. In the past, I didn’t have a reading plan for the year. Since 2017, I’ve found the reading plan to be a helpful way to keep me reading more. If I’m reading a book I don’t particularly like, I know that there is a prize of reading another book if I can get through the existing one.
After I share this list, some people praise my dedication and sacrifice. That’s kind and all, but I don’t feel dedicated or particularly sacrificial. I haven’t given up TV. I simply enjoy reading more than watching TV. There’s no sacrifice there. I simply feel better using 5 min of downtime reading a few pages than finding out what Susan from high school thinks about Trump on Facebook.
What are some areas where you could make better use of your time to get to more of your reading list?