Finding the time and space to read

20:56, Nov 25 2013

I re-entered the full-time workforce after 18 months of freelance bohemian bliss, during which I was a night owl when it came to freelance work, just so I could at least call some of the daylight hours my own.

One of the biggest adjustments I have found to toiling for roughly 8.5 hours a day in an office is the mental hangover that comes with a fulltime job. After the 40-minute or so commute home in crawling end-of-day traffic, the last thing I feel like doing is reading. That is the awful truth of it.

Most of us are engaged in some kind of job that is "full time and more". Most of us have mortgages and bills to pay, families to nurture, friends to spend time with. Most of us are juggling so many balls that it can become an incredible art in itself just to find time to read.

So the question I'd like to pose today is, how do you carve out reading time for yourself?

I don't mean just stealing an hour here and there between work, chores, chauffeuring children, worrying about the state of the world. I mean, how do you mentally disconnect from it all and get to your happy reading place?

Because reading, as we all know, isn't just about finding time for it. It's not as simple as cracking open a book and diving in. Sometimes you can find yourself reading the same paragraph over-and-over again, unable to understand the words because the story just isn't processing. This happens to me a lot when I'm stressed or worn out. 


My brain puts up a barrier that says "no more", and will refuse to process new information, or get me to that place where I'm ready to read. It can feel as if you've been locked in a prison for a long time, and a guard has just come to let you out. But when the door swings open, your feet are frozen and you're unable to leave.

What I have found is that I need to be well-rested in order to read. I also need to be able to put up barriers between work, home and relationships. For me, writing this blog has been a great way to keep my reading habit alive.

I once spent two years barely reading anything new at all. It was as if my reading muscle had atrophied from lack of use. I spent most of my time (and money) collecting and reading fashion magazines, and only the occasional book. When I shifted house, the magazines went into the recycling bin. But I took all my books.

Nowadays, I average about two books a month. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I will admit to having a huge to-read pile, but I'm determined to get through them all.

What I'd really like to find out though, are other methods that people have to keep reading, especially when you're feeling a bit discouraged, over-tired, over-worked, just generally over it.

If you're not a regular reader, you would, of course, wonder what all the fuss was about. If reading is something that you have to force yourself to do, what is the point, such a person might ask.

All I can do to explain, as a passionate and avid reader, is that reading is something that is essential to me. It would be dramatic to say it's like breathing, but also true in a way. Reading is the oxygen that keeps the fire alive. Like all things that are important to you in life, it's not just about finding the time to hurry through it - but also the mental space to be present so you can really enjoy it.

How do you manage to find the time and mental space to read?

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