Sometimes I’m envious of my kids and how much time they have to read.
Yesterday, my wife took our children to the Library, a weekly ritual of hers, and they returned with a huge stack of books. Each one immediately set off to a quiet place to read and devour what he/she had received. They were occupied for hours, and I know it won’t be long before they all make their way through every bit of their reading material and will be begging for another Library trip.
It’s a lot harder for me to find time to read. In fact, in this season of life, I have to fight hard for it. I agree with Martyn Lloyd-Jones sentiment, as John Piper describes it, that “the fight to find time to read is a fight for one’s life.” Piper states,
“I, for one, am not a self-replenishing spring. My bucket leaks, even when it is not pouring. My spirit does not revive on the run. Without time of unhurried reading and reflection, beyond the press of sermon preparation, my soul shrinks, and the specter of ministerial death rises. Few things frighten me more than the beginnings of barrenness that come from frenzied activity with little spiritual food and meditation.” John Piper, Brothers We Are Not Professionals, page 66.
Here Are Some Ways I Am Fighting To Find Time To Read:
1. Plan Time To Read. You would think that if you value something so much, that you wouldn’t have to be disciplined about it. But that’s not the case for me. With the regular demands of family life, work, and church-related responsibilities, reading time does not come naturally. I have to literally plan time to read. I have found that I do my best reading and thinking in the morning hours between 5-8am, before the rest of the family is fully active. I have some very good friends who think better at night, and they use their late-night hours to read. The important thing for me has been to find a time that works best for me, and to establish a rhythm and routine of reading.
2. Take a 20/20/20 Approach. If I wait for large-chunks of time to appear before I crack open a book, I may be waiting for a long time. However, even in the busiest of seasons, I find that I can usually carve out 3 separate 20-minute time-slots to read each day, for a total of an hour a day. I do this by reading for 20-minutes in the mornings before going to work. I can then utilize my commute (20 minutes round-trip) to listen to an audio book or sermon series. Finally, in the evening, I can read for 20 minutes before going to bed. Evening reading is the hardest for me because I tend to fall asleep, so I prefer more time in the morning.
3. Cultivate a Love for Reading in the Home. If everyone is occupied with a book, it’s so much easier for me to be occupied with a book. Some of my favorite times are when the entire family is curled up on the couch reading separately. (This should get easier as the kids get older). My wife and I try to cultivate a love for reading in the home, first by example and then by regular trips to the Library or Bookstore, by discussing what we have read at the dinner table, and by reading together in the evenings.
4. Utilize Weekends and Vacations To Read. Weekends and vacations provide a wonderful time for us to rest through reading. Here you have large chunks of time that the hustle of regular weekdays does not provide. It’s fun for us to think ahead and plan for what books we want to enjoy or tackle over a vacation. God has met me in profound ways through reading as a means of grace in these times of extended reflection.
5. Be Creative and Enjoy It. I have a friend who listens to audio books while he travels. Because he has a good bit of travel time for his work, he said he is able to listen to a book a week, on average. That’s 52 books a year consumed during travel time that could otherwise be easily wasted! Taking this approach, I recently set up a speaker system in my bathroom to enable me to listen to audio books while getting ready for work in the morning. Using my iPhone, I can continue listening to the same material while I commute and when I exercise. I’ve found that doing this often affords me the opportunity to consume an extra hour a day of reading material, while making other mundane activities more enjoyable.
6. Give Up Something Else. Finding more time to read may mean that we have to sacrifice something. It may mean that we turn the TV off by 9 or 10pm. It may mean that we limit our time online. Personally, I didn’t join FaceBook until 2011 and only joined Twitter in 2013. I enjoy them both. I’m also amazed at how much time those two sites can suck from you, if you are not careful. I can no longer use the excuse that I don’t have 20 minutes to read, because I know for certain that FaceBook and Twitter take at least 20 minutes of my day, each day.
Again, it is a fight to find time to read. And it’s a fight that’s certainly worth our attention and effort!
How do you find time in your busy schedule to read?