Reading is a key component of the Christian life and something that I personally enjoy immensely. Certainly, people read at varying levels and varying speeds, while books come at varying levels of difficulty meaning that the time it takes to read one book may be different than another. Regardless of this, I will almost always urge people to read more. Spent for time this will often receive much pushback, and yet few people recognize that reading a mere fifteen minutes it a day can allow the average person to complete an astounding book and half a month.
Earlier this month I was fortunate enough to spend time with my stepfather, something I enjoy immensely but rarely get to do because of the distance that separates us (one of us lives in the southern hemisphere and the other lives in the northern). During our time together the conversation inevitably turned to reading and ways to capture ‘downtime’ to read more. A day later as we headed to the downtown area for an errand, parking was difficult, so I dropped him off and went to look for a place to park and wait. Having just shared about using that downtime, I found myself without a book for the few minutes that I waited for him . . . and thus I lost a few minutes of valuable reading time. While embarrassed, that circumstance captures why so many people fail to find and utilize a few minutes here or there.
15 minutes is very little time to invest and most people can find that time among their wasted minutes of the day. It can be three minutes in the waiting room in the doctor’s office, five minutes during a lunch break, or ten minutes before bed. However, to rightly utilize that time requires planning and purpose, something most people are not willing to engage effort for. Yet, that little investment of time is redeemed in maximizing the usage of a person’s time later on. Take a few minutes to plan what to read at the beginning of the month and it can cause one to redeem much time over the course of the next month. In order to increase reading productivity by utilizing these pockets of time, a person must do the following:
- Be Intentional: First, it requires a mindset of intentionality. An attitude of passiveness in the desire to read will yield little reading time. Instead, a person must be actively involved not only in the reading process but also in planning the reading process. That intentionality comes in the form of setting reading goals, deciding what to read, and when to read it (see next step).
- Be Planful: The second aspect is for a person to plan his or her reading. If the hope is to utilize those unexpected pockets of time, like when waiting for an appointment, then planning must take place. Certainly, a person cannot plan exactly when those moments of time will appear or for how long, however, there is a way to be prepared in order to maximize their usage. This means first making the decision to read in those moments.
- Be Extensive: The third action of intentionality is to decide what to read. The key is to read widely. In the conversation with my stepfather, the struggle for him is he reads very deep books, and to start and stop suddenly can be difficult. I get that because I am the same way. In that case, a person can adjust their reading for the environment. One can simply pick a different book that is more conducive to his or her own style in those particular moments. If fiction requires less energy in these chaotic moments, then read a fiction book. Prefer a history book to engage with, then pick one up. I have previously urged others that in order to read more, they should read multiple books at the same time; that point is applicable here and I would urge you to read that previous article by clicking here.
- Be Prepared: Finally, to be intentional in reading, one must be prepared. To be unprepared will result in wasted time, just as it did for me while I waited in the parking lot for my stepfather. Therefore, it means a person must ensure that they have a book with them at all times. Keep it in the car, keep it in a purse, or keep it in another convenient place; regardless of where the point is to have quick and easy access to it because without access all planning is unprofitable.
Together, these four points can be a guide in making the most of the available time for the purposes of getting the most out of the opportunities to read.
While I love my physical books, you will find me more often than not with an e-reader because I recognize the practicality and convenience of such a device. Utilized rightly, an e-reading device can help a person read more because it helps in each of the four points above. They are often small and convenient (often available on the phones that most people are already carrying with them), meaning that they are easy to have access to at all times. Even more, e-readers can carry thousands of books meaning a person can choose whatever book is more conducive to the environment and opportunity they have. Whether waiting for six minutes or sixty minutes, a person can easily prompt the book he or she prefers at that particular moment.
Some will argue that it is impractical, and may even be rude, to be reading in a public place because it cuts off your contact with others around you. Look around you these days and most people aren’t talking anyway. They are too busy playing with their cell phones. If there is the opportunity for engaging and profitable conversation with others, then by all means, take advantage of that. However, I lament that more often than not that’s not happening, and so, rather than wasting that time scrolling through Instagram, utilize it for something that has value by reading something that will profoundly stimulate and impact you for long-term (something no social media account can ever claim).
Being intentional and prepared to read more may require a certain administrative skill set that many people are not accustomed to. Reading on the go may be a challenge, but like any other habit, it simply requires consistency to develop. However, there is one assurance that can be made: if you put forth the effort and develop this inclination you not only will find yourself reading more, but you will find yourself impacted by what you read.