Today’s post is by Kevin Hendricks a writer and editor living in St. Paul, Minn., with his wife and kids. He’s the author of 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading. You can follow Kevin on Twitter or his blog.
I like to read, but I don’t have time.
Last year I learned what a pathetic excuse that is. In 2012 I read 137 books. It’s not like I took a sabbatical: I’m a work-at-home dad, I watch TV, I take my wife on dates. But I still managed to carve out that kind of time.
How? It’s pretty simple: Reading is important to me, I love doing it, so I made the time.
No more excuses.
No more blame.
No more maybe next year.
I wrote a booklet explaining how I managed to do it. It’s called 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading. It’s full of practical ideas for how to read a lot, stuff like having a next book to read and how to take advantage of your local library.
But the main idea is this: If you love something, you’ll find a way to do it.
What Do You Love?
It started by embracing what I loved. I’m a big fan of post-apocalytpic sci-fi and I stumbled into a rich vein of new young adult entries in that genre.
The love of reading and good stories drew me in. I wanted to read more.
I don’t have hours and hours to sit down with a book, but I was loving these stories, so I had to find time. I started taking a book everywhere I went and reclaiming idle moments. I read while waiting in line, read while the dogs finished their business, read while eating breakfast. I took it to the extreme–I’d read any time I had to wait more than 20 seconds: FBI warning, dinner in the microwave, restarting the computer.
Pretty soon I realized I had read more books in a month or two than I had in some years. It was happening. Not because it was an obligation or an item on my to-do list, but because I loved it.
More not Less
When I read books I didn’t love, I didn’t make time to read them. But when I read books I did love, I couldn’t stop reading them. I’d skip watching TV because my book was so much better.
In the end I probably watched less TV than normal, but I didn’t set out to watch less TV (I like TV!). I set out to read more books. Less TV was just a byproduct.
Don’t focus on what you need to do less, focus on what you need to do more. If you’re doing what you love, the stuff that needs to fall away will and you won’t miss it.
Habit of Reading
As the year went on, I realized I’d created a habit of reading. I felt naked if I left the house without a book. I actually couldn’t leave my desk without grabbing a book. I never knew when I’d have an idle moment (feeding the dogs, waiting for children, TV commercials), so I always made sure to have a book.
If you want to change something in your life, make it a habit. We usually think of habits as bad things–swearing, chewing your fingernails, drinking too much caffeine. But the only reason those things become habits is because we worked hard at doing them. We did them over and over and over again until we got really good at them. Too bad we were working so hard to turn negative behaviors into a habit.
You can also form positive habits. It’s the same amount of work, but you get something a lot better out of the deal. If there’s something you want to tackle or achieve or accomplish–make it a habit. Do it every day and work at it, hard, until not doing it feels wrong. Make it a natural part of your life, like breathing, and you’ll be accomplishing that thing in no time.
In my quest to read a lot of books, I discovered that a lot of this comes down to knowing yourself. You’ve got to figure out your strengths and weaknesses and play to them. It works for trying to read a lot of books and it works for anything else you want to accomplish.
If you love something, you’ll find a way to do it.
Do you love reading? How many books have you read this year? To reply, click HERE.
Kevin Hendricks is a writer and editor living in St. Paul, Minn., with his wife and kids. He’s the author of 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading. You can follow Kevin on Twitter or his blog.