How To Keep Reading (Even With a Busy School Schedule)

Back to school season. New pens and markers, backpacks, and routines all come with less time to read. Maybe you spent all summer devouring books but have hardly read a page since school started. Or maybe you're like me and were in a slump before the semester even began. Regardless, we're all looking to get back into reading for fun, even with less time on our hands. Over the years, I've found tons of convenient ways to sneak more time into the day for finishing books and keeping non-required reading a part of your weekly schedule. Not all of these tips will work for everyone, so definitely scroll through the list and take what might work for you and leave what doesn't. Or, you could try a new tip each week and see which ones stick. 

1. Read on Your Commute 
Everyone's commute looks different, so this tip won't universally apply, but it's a great way to take advantage of under-utilized time. If you walk or drive yourself to school, audiobooks are a great way to stay entertained while getting tangible reading done. If you take public transport, try reading on the subway or the bus. I have a real issue with getting car sick, but I used to read a couple pages while I waited for my mom to pick me up in grade school. I personally listen to music on my walks, but I know tons of people who love reading on their way to school. 

2. Explore Audiobooks
Like I mentioned above, audiobooks are super versatile. If you don't want to listen on your commute, they're still great to play while you clean, cook, do laundry, or take a bath. Audiobooks allow you to take your reading everywhere you go and offer a hands free option. 
I do the most reading when I have an audiobook and a print book going at the same time. I only like to listen to nonfiction books, so that means that I end up reading two books at once, but it doesn't feel like I do. Music and podcasts are always competing for my listening time, but I love the sense of accomplishment I get from finishing extra books because I've been playing an audiobook to fill the silence. I highly recommend them to college students who have to walk around campus a ton or might be looking for some company in their new dorm or apartment. Make sure you check our your local library's various apps because they'll usually have tons of free audiobook options. 

3. Schedule 30 Minutes a Day
This will work super well for some and others will totally recoil. If you're a fan of scheduling, pencil in some time for reading a book you enjoy each day or each week. If you look at your schedule all laid out, there's usually a bit of time before you leave for work or after dinner where you could sneak in a few minutes. While it might make reading feel like a chore, checking it off your to-do list just like your homework might give it more importance and make sure it gets done. If you're anything like me, spending times on hobbies might make you feel guilty, so creating a specific time for it might help ease those feelings. 

4. Keep a Book With You At All Times 
Since I've been back to school in person, I've done most of my reading sitting outside of classrooms on break. Since I'm a college student, my classes aren't always scheduled back to back. Often, I have at least 40 minutes of break between classes, so I'll find myself reading a chapter or two while I wait to get into the next classroom. I could scroll through my phone during that time, but because I have my Kindle with me, it's easy enough to sneak in some reading in a time that would otherwise be wasted. If you're paying attention, there are probably a couple moments throughout your day where you could easily get a couple pages in. 

5. Join a Book Club
Similar to scheduling in your reading, joining a book club is an accountability feature. Whether it's online, just reading the same book as a friend, or through your school, the book club will make sure you finish at least one book by a deadline. I find when I make reading a habit, I tend to pick up the next book more easily, and I'm able to avoid bad slumps. With the book club forcing you to make time for reading, you'll naturally end up reading more books, even after you finish this month's pick. 
Another benefit is that you won't fall into the "I have nothing to read" slump because at least 1 book will be picked out for you. You'll also get to connect with a ton of new readers and possibly make a new friend! 

6. Treat It Like a Study Break
I have a super unusual study and working pattern where I have a hard time doing the same task for too long. Sometimes, I can get super focused and zone out for hours, but usually, I bounce between different tasks every 15 minutes or so. When I was online school, I would alternate doing my school work with bursts of reading for fun. For me, reading fiction and reading a dry textbook use different parts of my brain, so it was energizing to get to read a different book. By reading as a break for a certain amount of time, chapters, or pages, you're less likely to get as sidetracked as you might be if you picked up your phone. 

Hopefully you found these tips helpful! I'm trying to apply more of these to my life again as the semester gets going. One tip that I did not mention is just how important it is to focus on reading books that spark joy, not just books you feel like you should read. If you've taken a week to read a couple pages and you aren't itching to get back to reading, you're probably just not that into the book or not in the right place to read it right now. Move on to a new book that sparks your excitement and makes you want to read. That's the most important part. And, as always, if you're looking for inspiration on books that might spark joy, make sure to check out the almost 5 year long backlog of reviews all over this blog. 

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