December 13, 2019

How to make more time to read

Reading is one of those activities that many people wish they did more. Whenever I talk to some of my friends who want to read more, I ask them why they can’t and the biggest reason why is because they do not seem to have the time to do so.

Since listening to Neil Pasricha’s 3 books podcast, I respect the fact that we should not feel any book guilt or book shame for not reading more or reading the specific books that I like. Reading is great – no matter how you do it whether it’s a graphic novel, cookbook or even an audiobook.

But how do I then manage to read about a book a week? Let me share with you some of my secrets to reading more:

Schedule it in your calendar

If you schedule it in your calendar, you are more likely to get it done. How much time do you schedule in for reading? How much reading do you actually do? Exactly. Scheduling it in your calendar uses the same discipline that you probably have for meetings – you see a meeting invite in your calendar and you make sure that you are there, ready to contribute and you take any necessary notes for yourself. Why not adopt the same discipline for reading?

Read and walk

Although a bit dangerous, I will sometimes try to read a book as I’m walking to work. I’ll have to slow down my gait and I also have to make sure I watch for others walking by me but I can read at least a few paragraphs, if not a few pages, even with a 5 – 10 minute walk to work.

Have a book in your car

Any time I’m waiting around in the car for anything – waiting to pick someone up, waiting outside a grocery store, heading to a restaurant, I’ll pick up the book and get in a bit of reading. I certainly don’t advocate this for all situations – sometimes you do need to pay attention at the restaurant or make sure you have your eye out for your partner so that you can flag them down, etc. but having a book in the car means I can get in a few minutes of reading at the very least (which is much better than not doing anything or fiddling around with your smartphone).

Carry a book with you in your work bag

I would recommend carrying something non-fiction – only because you would probably rather not be embarrassed by your book choice if someone at work saw you with that book. I heard about an interesting rule of thumb – always bring a good book with you out in public. That way, if you suddenly pass away while outside with your book, people won’t judge your book. Carrying a book in your work bag means that any time your meeting is running late or ends early or you are waiting for your flight at the airport, you can pick it up and do a bit of learning.

Bluetooth earbuds

I picked up a set of bluetooth earbuds from Anker when they first came out – and I have fallen in love with them since. I use them mainly for working out but sometimes when I am walking to work, I’ll put them on and listen to an audiobook – I enjoy a lot of Brian Tracy’s audiobooks and if you’re looking for a fiction book, I really enjoyed listening to Peter Clines’ 14. I can’t listen to books or anything with words while at work (unless I’m doing something really brainless and repetitive) but I will take every chance to listen to books when I do not have to interact with others (such as walking home alone).

Quit books that you do not like

I used to finish every single book that I started. This turned out to be a big waste of time for books that I just didn’t like or couldn’t get through. So I decided that I would quit books as soon as it did not interest me. I do mostly try to read the whole book and give it a chance but anything that does not jive with me goes away and I dig up another book to read. That way, my time is not spent trying to slug through a book that I do not enjoy (and I have more time to read books that do interest me).

Skip around the book

Who says you have to read books in an orderly fashion? Some of my favourite books as a teenager were the Choose Your Own Adventure books – which I later learned as an adult are collector items and are quite sought after. With those books, I would end up bookmarking any decisions that need to be made so that I could find the optimal path. You can do the same with non-fiction books – take a look at the outline, note down the chapters that seem to interest you, through the chapter title, try to ‘guess’ at what the chapter might contain, skim through, reading headlines and interesting quotes or boxed out passages and then go through the chapter in more detail if you like what you see. Why shouldn’t it be okay to skip around the book, take what you want from it and finish ‘reading’ it?

Understand your why for reading

It’s perfectly okay to read for learning, enjoyment or for other reasons. But I would say that knowing that why is incredibly important when it comes down to deciding between picking up your smartphone for that easy, quick dopamine hit from watching Youtube videos or browsing social media or dusting off the copy of your book and really spending time to digest the writing. One will keep you entertained in the short term and pass the time easily. The other is definitely more challenging to get through but will pay dividends in the long term. I’m not saying to spend all of your time reading and to block yourself from picking up your smartphone any time you get bored but I am saying to be more conscious of the decision that you make.


Let me know in the comments what books you have read recently that you really liked. What did you learn? What have you implemented in your life?

And how do you make time for reading? What tips or tricks do you have to read more?


Don’t have time to read? Are you interested in Wang’s book summaries of the (mostly non-fiction) books he reads each month that will help save you time reading and pulling out key takeaways? Secret hacks / tips that he has discovered in his life? Subscribe to Wang’s e-mail newsletter! and get immediate access to the top ten formative books that he has read culled from hundreds of the best non-fiction books.

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