Cultivating a Healthy Reading Habit (Even When You’re Busy)

We are always learning new things. To learn is to grow continually, and just as we gain experiences in our daily lives that shape us, there is always room for more. As young children, one of the first ways we learn is through reading. Reading expands our vocabularies, fosters communication, sharpens our attention spans, and helps us cultivate a deeper relationship with the world around us. Next to lived experience, reading is the most valuable form of learning available to us. But how, in this world of workaholism and abundant distractions, can we find the time to have a healthy reading habit? It is possible! And for the busiest among us, determining what to read is just as important as determining when and how to read. If we don’t make a place for knowledge in our busy lives, we’re severely limiting our potential to grow and interact with the world.

How to Read on a Busy Schedule

Some of the most successful and busiest people in the world are avid readers. If they can find the time to get through even a few books every year, then the rest of us can too. All you need is determination and a solid plan of action. Here are some tips for making time to read habitually.
  • Set goals. Your reading goals are your own and need to be made with your schedule in mind. Only you know how much you can read realistically. And these goals don’t need to be hard-and-fast. Instead of reading for an hour every day, you could set a goal to read two books every month. Leave room for life’s ups and downs, but make an effort not to slack.
  • Fit it into your schedule. Just like any other important activity, write down your reading time in your calendar and treat it like you would a real business meeting. Set aside distractions and dedicate yourself to the pursuit of new wisdom and personal growth.
  • Make room. If your days are too busy for even short scheduled reading “meetings,” then do your best to fit reading into any dull points. Carry your books with you and read them during commutes if you take public transport, while waiting in lines, during meals or exercise—chances are you have the time if you just think on a smaller scale.

What to Read

A vital part of a reading habit is choosing the actual content that you’ll be reading and how you consume it. There is more than one way to absorb knowledge, and figuring out what works best for you will be the key to cultivating a consistent habit.
  • Audiobooks. Services like Audible have drastically changed the reading landscape. If sitting down with a physical copy of a book is just not practical for you, the best alternative is to purchase or download audiobooks. They can be listened to during drives, jogs, breaks, and many other occasions. If you have a library card, you can even digitally check out audiobooks through Libby. Who doesn’t love free books?
  • Try shorter reads. Novellas and collections of shorter works like essays and stories, or even cookbooks, are perfect for when you only have a short span of time to fit in your reading. They’re light and quick but still full of knowledge. Plus, apps like Blinkist exist to condense longer works into short, easy-to-digest forms that can find a place in anyone’s schedule.
Reading is an activity that anyone can make their own. Whether you like memoirs, mysteries, romances, or anything in between, there is a book for everyone, and every book offers something valuable. Reading will broaden your horizons and allow you to empathize more fully with the world around you, which no one can ever get enough of. Go ahead and challenge yourself to read more. You never know what you might learn!