5 Ways To Make Sure You Always Have Time To Read

You may have been a major bookworm growing up, getting lost in fantasy worlds under the dinner table or living for the next school book fair. But maybe the education system took some of the joy out of your reading practice, or standardized testing and academic commitments took up too much of your time and energy. And, of course, entering the workforce as an adult didn't help, and the old joy of browsing the library for your next literary adventure may seem like a thing a of the past. 

Reading activity has seen a dip in the last decade; Lifehack cites a 2014 study that averages the books read per year by age group, and 18 to 29 year olds read 9 books with a median of 5, while older adults averaged 13, per The Atlantic. However, reading can have a major positive impact on your body and mind, and for regularly readers, it can even reduce the chance of dying by up to 20%, per a study conducted by Social Science and Medicine.

So whether you're hoping to return to reading as a way to expand your mind, find an escape, or just have some built-in meditative time in your day, we found a few useful tips for prioritizing reading in your daily life. 

Make reading social

Whether you thrive most when given reading assignments or have preferred methods for measuring your reading progress, there are techniques for the goal-oriented readers out there who want to hit personal milestones on the regular. With a Kindle or eReader, you can see what percentage of the book you've read, making it easy to set page number or percentage goals for each reading session, per Lifehack

Goodreads has reading challenges that can hold you accountable in the long term, and there are also plenty of online book clubs you can join to build a sense of solidarity and create shared reading experiences. For example, Perks of Being a Book Addict chooses two monthly books, has an online discussion forum and even promotes book giveaways. Goodreads can also track your reading stats, book progress, and in the site's yearly reading challenge you can pick your goal number of books and Goodreads helps you stay on track with reminders. There are also Instagram pages like bookbaristas that post recommendations and foster a community of readers through the comments.

Renaissance recommends reading aloud to remind yourself just how joyful and immersive the experience can be. So next time you're at the park with friends and you want a post-picnic activity, bring out a book you love and start a group read-aloud session.

Give yourself plenty of options

Using a resource like the Libby app — which just requires an active library card at a participating institution — can mean having a lineup of books on the horizon to motivate you to keep on track with your reading goals. Lifehack recommends checking several books out from the library at a time rather than just one to ensure accountability concerning your ideal reading schedule. In this case, you'll just have to remember when the books are due back — though many libraries have automatic email alerts set up to let you know when these dates are coming up, and even offer options for online or over the phone renewals if you need more time with your great new read.

The outlet also suggests reading more than one book at a time because it will diversify your enjoyment. Sometimes you won't be in the mood for that inspirational biography, so you grab your thriller and find a cozy place to nest for the night. After all, we don't watch just one show on TV at a time, so it makes sense to have multiple entertaining stories on hand to escape into at a moment's notice.

Keep your devices synced up

Lifehack recommends syncing up books across your devices to make sure you can step in and out of your authors' worlds whenever the mood strikes. Though the page may look a bit different on a phone versus an iPad or eReader, reading apps should sync up your reading progress so that you can use a spare moment on the bus or while cooking dinner to check in with your favorite characters, even for just a few minutes.

This trick is especially easy with audiobook apps; you won't even have to remember what sentence you read last, since the performance will pick up right where you left off. For those who don't want to pay a monthly subscription fee for a service like Audible, they can check out the Libby app, a free service that lets you sync a library card and membership online and access the entirety of your library's online catalogue. Though, of course, you may have to deal with loan backups and waitlists for popular books, you can add yourself to multiple book lists so that you always have something to look forward to when it's time for your next read.

Take the pressure off reading for pleasure

Once you're no longer completing assignments or writing essays for school, your reading experience can become whatever you choose. Yes, the literary canon will always be calling, and the well-read folks in your life will have their suggestions when it comes to what should be next on your reading list. But reading is a solo activity — no one else is on the journey except you, so they shouldn't get a say in what is or isn't a worthwhile read. There a thousands of Best Books and Best Books of the Summer lists, but what matters most is that you find stories that emotionally move, inspire, educate, or otherwise entertain you. 

Of course, a best books list isn't a bad place to start when compiling your reading list for the near future. But make sure you're picking reads based on your own interests and intellectual journey rather than external pressures. Reading itself is shown to have stress-relieving properties, so it only makes sense to choose books that lean into your own self-care methods.

Make reading an important part of your routine

Whether you choose to read before bed — which the Mayo Clinic has linked to improved sleep — catch up on your book for 20 minutes in the morning, or pick things up again while you eat breakfast or lunch, your brain will thank you for taking a break from what may be an otherwise overstimulating daily landscape. After all, our brains can't always process fast-paced entertainment like movies, TV, and internet videos, but we may still crave stimulation that we can mull over throughout the day. 

Exercising your imagination through reading helps you see the world around you in a new way, and it may even lead to some major breakthroughs in your career or relationships. Tuning into your ability to shift perspectives and empathize with a range of characters has a proven impact on your Theory of Mind, or ability to understand others and act with empathy, per Healthline. Reading also helps protect the brain against cognitive decline, per the National Institute on Aging, making it the perfect element to incorporate into your daily routine to make sure you stay sharp in the long term.