How To Squeeze Non-Fiction Reading Into Your Busy Life

27/03/2017 14:01 BST | Updated 27/03/2017 14:01 BST

If you're anything like me and love reading and learning, or quite simply need to read non-fiction books for information and development, you'll know how hard it is to find the time to do it.

You have a long list of books you need to read, and you're adding to it a lot quicker than you manage to go through it. So if you want to squeeze non-fiction books into your already-packed life, here's how.


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1. Narrow your list down and make it realistic

It goes without saying that if you have a ridiculous amount of books on your to-read list, it's going to take you some time to go through them all. But do you really want or need to read them all?

Sift through your list and pick a few - 3 to 5 to start with would be great. This way you know that if you don't manage to read anything else, at least you'll have these under your belt.

Hold on to that shortlist, and don't get distracted by new entries. Or think of it this way - if something new comes in, something else has to come out. That forces you to prioritise and keep your list manageable and realistic. You're one step closer to getting it done already.

2. Commit to your list and give yourself targets and deadlines

I know that this sounds terribly boring, but reading is like anything else. Unless you don't commit and allocate and dedicate time to it, you won't do it.

So you really want to read that book about parenting that your colleague recommended the other day at work? Great. Download it or go and buy it, and you've made the first step towards committing to read it.

Now set yourself a target: "I want to read this by the end of the month". Carry it with you from then on, and every time you see an opportunity in the day, pick it up and read it.

3. Prioritise reading over other tasks

If you really do want to read, then you need to decide what reading is more important than. It's probably not more important than turning up for work, having a shower or feeding your children. But it can (if you so wish) be more important than scrolling mindlessly through your Facebook newsfeed, half watching a TV series you're not really into, or washing up if you can do that in the morning instead.

Sometimes we can be guilty of saying: "I just don't have time to do X", but we haven't even made the faintest attempt at making time for it. And then can't really complain, can we? Especially if we were just wasting time on social media because we were too tired to go and even fetch the book (yes, I've been there and done that).

4. Switch your habits around

So we established that some things you can't do without. But there are times in the day when you can concentrate and read, and others that aren't really appropriate for it (just before bed when you're tired and need to wind down, for example).

So you may find it hard to sit down with a book when your children have just come home from school demanding snacks and fighting over who gets to choose what to watch on TV. But during those times you may still get away with a quick round of tidying up or putting the washing machine on instead (once you've sorted the snacks and TV remote situation, of course).

Start noticing the moments of peace and quiet in your day when you can sit down and read, and grab them. Yes, I know that you have to do the hoover and last night's washing up, but can you do them later perhaps? At a time when reading wouldn't be possible?

Sometimes moving tasks around in the day can make space for new things - things that you wouldn't have been able to do otherwise.

5. Use an app

If you're trying to narrow down your list of favourite books and prioritise what you want to read, you can use an app like Blinkist or Joosr, for example. You can get access to brief summaries of the key points from many non-fiction books, and with this information in mind, you can always make a decision to read a book cover to cover.