Is it just me, or is it becoming impossible to find time, energy, or even the desire for relaxing downtime these days? At the very least, I’m having to be extremely intentional about finding that downtime.

I asked you guys on Facebook what one thing kept you from reading, and I wasn’t all that shocked by how many of you said “time” or that you simply couldn’t turn your brain off long enough to actually enjoy pleasure reading.

We are a go, go, go society. We go and go until we’re exhausted. And to unwind from that, we fall into bed and sleep or we spend hours trying to shut off our brains by watching Netflix.

Today, I’d like to discuss all of the reasons I’ve heard since posting that post on Facebook for not reading, and then lay out some solutions to these. Because… Come on people!! Reading is fun and good for our minds! We should all be reading more.

#1 Reason:  “I don’t have time to read for pleasure”

Okay… I get this one. I totally do. I’ve been of a mindset lately that if I have time to curl up with a book, then I have time to write/work more. And since I’m so far behind on a current deadline, I shouldn’t be reading for pleasure when I have so much work to do. Therefore, technically, I “don’t have time to read.”

And many of you echoed these sentiments.

So, this discussion is for me as much as it is for everyone else who claimed time was the “one thing” that kept them from reading.

We all have time to read. It’s really a matter of priorities. Maybe reading for pleasure isn’t your priority right now. Maybe you prioritize other things higher on your list and you do, in fact, run out of time at the end of the day.

Let’s face it. There are only so many hours in the day, and we have to make choices on how to spend every single one of those hours.

I can tell you where I chose to spend time yesterday that I wish I had said “no” to. Instead, I wish I had finished my workday earlier and taken time to read or do other relaxing things that I have not made a priority lately. Those time wasting activities?

– Facebook (Some time on Facebook is allowable for me. But I’m not sure I really want to know how much time I spend there.

– Instagram (see Facebook)

– Twitter (see Facebook and Instagram)

– Pinterest… you get the point.

– Reading things on the internet (blogs, “news”, etc.) Some of this is allowable, as well. I am researching books, researching ways to tweak my website, and other job-related searches. However, there are times when I go down a rabbit hole of information that I didn’t really need. For example, I’m in the process of remodeling my kitchen, and there are so many rabbit holes of information and super cool websites to “research” choices for the remodel.

While some social media and online reading is part of my job, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that I’m always careful with my time spent there. There is definitely room for improvement.

You might even have additional areas where you waste time. For example, when I worked the corporate job, I was always wasting time chatting too much with coworkers. What can I say? I’m a social being.

Time wasted on any of the above should have been time I spent on work output (aka novel writing) so that I could end the workday on time, or (crazy thought ahead) even finish early. Because when we get our actual jobs done on time or early, we have time for relaxing downtime or leisure activities we’re always saying we don’t have time for.

#2 Reason: I Can’t Shut Out All the Noise in My Head and Concentrate on Pleasure Reading

When this happens to me it means I’m overly stressed about work or other things going on in my life. And if there’s too much noise in my head, I know that I need to release that noise and pressure.

Too much noise in my head affects my entire life. It affects my mood during time with my family; It keeps me from cooking healthy meals for my family because I didn’t shut out that noise and give myself enough time to do that cooking; and it prevents me from relaxing in the evening so that I can have a restful night of sleep.

If we are not shutting out the noise from the day, it could affect our sleeping and our health. And it’s certainly preventing many of us from reading for pleasure.

While some people actually use pleasure reading to unwind and shut out the rest of the world, I heard from several of you on Facebook that you’re unable to do this.

My suggestions?

  • Exercise. A long walk or a hard workout at the gym is a great way to release those feel-good endorphins that have been proven to help lower stress and relieve our daily worries. (Bonus tip: Listen to an audio book while exercising!)
  • Yoga. I love yoga. The stretching. The quiet. The concentrating of holding poses for any length of time. Yoga is a wonderful way to get rid of the noise. And you can do it anywhere. My favorite way to do yoga is in my own home. I can do yoga for fifteen minutes or I can stretch it into 90-minute sessions. My favorite way to do yoga is with an app called YogaGlo.
  • Meditation. I am very new to meditation, and I’m not all that great at it just yet. But I know many people who swear by fifteen minutes of meditation a day. Just the other day I was listening to a podcast who spoke of a man who said that once he was trained in meditation, he spent his entire days in meditation in everything he did. I love that!
  • A hobby you love. By spending time doing something you love after a long day at work, you’ll clear your head of workday stress. For some people this is actually reading. For others of us, we have to unwind in other ways first.

Some of the above things require alone time, and I know what many of you are thinking. “I don’t have time to do any of that. If I did, I would have time to read, which was the original question.”

Here’s the thing. This comes back to priorities. What do you need most? I’m thinking that if the one thing that keeps you from reading is the noise left over from the day, then maybe you need to prioritize getting rid of the noise before you even think about adding reading to your routine.

But if we’re watching Netflix or Amazon Prime every night for two to three hours… Do I really need to finish that sentence?

We all need to make a pact right now that we’ll make it a priority to find a way to rid our minds of the noise, of the daily worries, and stress by taking a moment to ourselves every day to do one of the above. Or maybe you have another tactic. I would love it if you shared it in the comments.

Some of you actually admitted that reading is a huge priority for you.

When people tell me that they read every single day or night, I’m ecstatic. I was also curious what people were willing to give up in order to make reading a bigger priority. Here is what they said:

  • Netflix or other TV time
  • Sleep – I’m not a huge fan of giving this one up, though I’ve been known to do it. It kind of goes together with reducing stress and making your health a priority.
  • Housework – This one? I am totally in! I’ll give up housework to read any ol’ day. However, I’ve discovered that I don’t have to. I’ve found that I enjoy audio books while I clean, make dinner, exercise.
  • Exercise – Again, I’m not a fan of sacrificing our health. But I am a fan of combining reading or audio books into exercise.

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So there you have it. It’s pretty obvious that we are all just a little too busy and that if we want to find time to read, we’re going to have to prioritize it higher on the list and/or give up something that is keeping us from it.

Would love to hear your thoughts. Is there anything not covered above? What is keeping you from reading? If you are finding time to read, what are you giving up?

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