#AYearofWellness | Fitting reading into a busy schedule

March has been quite the whirlwind. I feel like my feet have barely touched the ground. If you asked me what I’ve been up to, I probably couldn’t tell you. It has been a blur and I’m struggling to wrap my head around the fact that it’s April! If I’m honest, this months wellness challenge has been a bit of a fail. The plan was to spend the month trying to work out how to fit reading back into my life, trying something slightly different each week, but it’s just not happened. In fact, trying to read happened more frequently in January and February, so I guess I’m cheating a little bit. But hey, I’ve still learnt a lot, just not in the right month. So grab a cup of tea and settle in – here’s how I’ve been fitting reading into a busy schedule.

Reading

1 – Tech free bed times

This is a bit of a follow-on from trying to nail a sleep routine last month. Instead of procrastinating on my phone watching youtube videos, I made the effort to sit and read in bed for half an hour before I went to sleep. It’s by far the easiest way of trying to read more. Granted, there have been a few nights where I’ve come in late and crashed, but I do normally have around half an hour or so to spare before bed in the evening.

2 – Carry a book

Carrying a book or kindle in your handbag is an easy way of squeezing in reading here and there. Say you’re out and about and a friend is running a little late, instead of trying to kill time, take a seat and crack open your book. These moments may be few and far between but it’s still one small way that I’ve been reading more.

If you commute to work or travel a lot, try reading on your way to your destination. I walk to work so this one isn’t for me. But when I’ve been on a train at the weekends, I’ve found myself sitting and reading.

3 – Scheduling reading time

This may sound a little insane, but as someone who relies heavily on a dairy to remember what she’s doing, blocking out time to read is a good way of reminding you to do it. If you’re someone who follows their diary religiously this should be an easy way of ensuring you pick up a book for an hour or two. I have a little reminder to read for an hour on a Sunday night. I really want to start scheduling in reading and yoga on nights that’s I’m free, too. 

Reading in bed

4 – Questioning habits and routines

By that I mean, question whether you actually want to sit down and watch Netflix/TV/Youtube when you get in, or whether it’s just become a habit. Instead of being on auto pilot over the last few months, I’ve been asking myself what I actually want to do when I get home from work. Surprisingly I’ve found myself reading for a few evenings instead of watching Netflix. Yes, there are some nights when I’m too exhausted to read and want to watching something mindless, but this little tip has given me some extra reading time. 

5 – Set goals and start small

I’m going to hold my hands up here and say I sort of failed on this one, but can see how it could work well. Set yourself a goal of a number or pages a day or an amount of time a day. Start small and work all the way up to whatever your goal may be. I really want to try five minutes a day. 

The sucesses

Reading in bed

Tech-free bedtimes have definitely been the most successful thing I tried. Devouring books aside, the additional benefits of sleeping better and having a calmer mind have been incredible. Questioning rituals and habits is something that has had huge benefits, too. I’ve actually started doing it in other areas of my life and have got to know myself a little better. Understanding why you do things and finding out how they became habits, has been, and will continue to be, invaluable for my wellness journey.

My reading list 

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I’m a big non-fiction fan. It comes from my love of learning new things and soaking up the experience and knowledge of others. I also find non-fiction books a lot easier to dip in and out of. If I want to get into a fiction book I definitely need a longer period of time to immerse myself in the storyline. I just don’t have that time at the moment.

Anyway, I’ve got through four books this year. The first book I devoured was Victoria McGrath’s The New Fashion Rules. It’s a smart and insightful look into how the internet has changed the fashion industry. It’s written in such a way that makes it so easy to read and understand. It really made me think about my shopping habits and how things have changed since the explosion of online shopping. If you’re interested fashion it’s well worth a read. 

My next book was Matt Haig’s Notes on a Nervous Planet. It was a good one for dipping in and out of before bed. It’s a thought-provoking, insightful and harrowing look at anxiety and modern life. It really made me stop and think about things and gave me a different perspective on life.

Book with the pages folded into a heart

Afterwards, I read Sally Hughes’ Pretty Iconic which is a look back at classic and game-changing beauty products. Again, it was an easy one to dip in and out of. I love that it mixes fact with storytelling and has such a lovely and nostalgic tine. It’s definitely one for all of the beauty lovers.

At the moment I’m part way into Katherine Ormerod’s Why Social Media is Ruining Your Life. So far I’m liking it, but it’s not the best for bedtime reading. It’s a heavier read than the others. It is structured more like an essay, gathering thoughts, fact and opinions on the effects of social media. I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be one that should be read by everyone on the internet though.

What I’ve learnt 

Library

Since trying to read more I’ve discovered how expensive reading can be! I was lucky enough to get most of these books for Christmas or my Birthday but I’ve been conscious of the fact that reading too much will have a negative effect on my bank balance. A lot of the books I’ve been looking at are around the £15 mark. Granted, that’s a couple of drinks in the pub, but a significant amount to have to consider and budget for. 

So I looked at reading more on the Kindle app. But then I remembered that I’d be staring at a screen right before bed. Instead, I renewed my membership at Norwich Library and plan on heading down there to check out a few books. I’m hoping that the returns deadline will actually spur me on to read more. I’ve also made a mental note to drop into my local Oxfam Shop which has loads of books for sale.

I’ve also learnt that starting small is always a good idea. The one thing I’ve always done is read online articles and countless copies of Elle Magazine. I always used to think that wasn’t really reading, but it does count! That must sound as silly to read as it did type. But taking time out to read articles and magazines still has its benefits.

Reading and wellbeing 

Stack of books

Speaking of benefits, I’ve noticed that reading has had a massive impact on my overall wellbeing. By taking time out to dive into a book before bed I’ve found that my mind is calmer and I’m less stressed which means I sleep better. It’s increased my curiosity and helped expand my mind and creativity. There’s just something about climbing into bed and reading that makes me insanely happy, too. Especially on a Sunday evening when I’ve done yoga and meditated. It really helps me to head into the next week feeling cool, calm, collected and happy. It sounds a bit silly but I really wasn’t expecting that at all!

There are billions of benefits to reading, reasons to start and tips on how to make reading a habit, but I hope this post has inspired you to pick up a book or at least try to.

What are your top tips for fitting reading into a busy schedule?


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