The Orange Slate

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Becoming a Better Reader in 2014: 5 Steps

January 7, 2014


One of my 2014 resolutions is to read more. 2013 was wonderful in so many ways, but as I reflect back on it, I’m a little saddened to realize that I read less than I normally do. I don’t have a lot of reading to show for the year. Oh, I read a lot. . . articles from Politico and The Hill for work; wedding blogs, design books, and magazines as we planned the wedding; freelance blogs as I prepared to leap out of my job back into self-employment, and lots of teaching advice as I dove back into teaching.

But a lot of what I read last year was out of necessity, out of my need to simply find information: articles, blog posts, quickly digestible articles. I made it a few chapters into several titles from my pile of books and didn’t actually finish nearly as many as I started. I think this was partly due to my Masters program mercifully concluding in December of 2012 and partly due to the generally tumultuous nature of much of last year. I needed some time away from goals and checklists – even those that involved books.


But this year I am determined to read – and finish – more books. Here are the steps I am taking to guarantee that it happens.

1. Set clear goals. I’m in the process of making a book list for the year (which I can’t wait to share!). Writing goals down and creating lists are steps that help me accomplish more. I am so much more motivated to act when I see what I have accomplished and what else I need to accomplish.

2. Read faster. I was talking to someone the other day who reads 3 or 4 books a week on the metro. 3 or 4 per week.  He does it simply by reading faster. It’s a discipline he’s cultivated. I tend to cuddle up with every book I read, savoring every paragraph. But this just isn’t a practical method for reading through a large quantity of books. Also, not every book needs to be carefully absorbed. If I want to read more, I simply need to read more quickly.

3. Carve out regular daily time to read. My best time to read is in the morning, when I can squeeze about 20 minutes of reading in. That way, before the day starts to distract me with everything that is going on, I’ve made some progress. If you can’t reliably carve out morning time, maybe your lunch break is ideal or maybe you can make time to read right before you go to sleep. Making your book list a priority isn’t always going to be easy, but like any other goal, reading won’t happen without regular, measurable progress.


4. Carry a book everywhere. A readily accessible book, whether a physical book or an e-book, will allow me (and you!) to take advantage of time spent waiting in line, waiting before appointments and meetings, or just waiting for the oven timer to ring. I can quickly power through a few page just waiting at the metro, and all of those little blocks of time add up!

5. Spend less time “browsing”. I’ve realized that if I want to accomplish more substantial reading, I simply need to spend less time on the internet or paging (mindlessly) through magazines or pretty blogs. I’m leaving my computer in the living room more when I head to bed so that I am more inclined to pick up one of the books from the pile by my bed.


This year, I am determined to improve my reading habits. I’d love to hear from you, dear readers! Any tips for me? How are you making time to read in 2014?

Looking for some more inspiration? The advice of the following writers and websites have inspired me to improve my reading discipline.

5 Way to Make More Time to Read from Michael Hyatt’s blog

How To Read More: A Lover’s Guide from zenhabits

Why I Read (+ a Dozen Book Recommendations) from zenhabits

The 10 Best Top 100 Book Lists from BookRiot

35 Books You Must Read in Your Lifetime from Business Insider

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  1. I love this topic! Sometimes it’s really hard to set aside time to read, but I’m able to on the metro (much like your friend). My commute is when I get two 30-minute chunks of time a day to read – and I also take the city bus to elementary schools daily for my job, so I can find a 20 minute block of time then to read. Sometimes I read for 15 or 20 minutes before bed, but commuting is what gives me the biggest amount of time dedicated to reading (and not wasting time doing nothing!). If you need any book inspiration, I listed my favorite books I read last year here: Good luck!!

    1. Stephanie, thanks for visiting! You’re right – commute time provides a lot of extra time to read. I think it’s just so important for everyone who wants to read more to find that magical window in their schedule and then *prioritize*. I love your blog and read it all of the time . . . definitely enjoyed that post!

  2. Carry a book everywhere works for me, I always have a book on the go on the kindle app on my phone, that way I can whip it out anywhere.

    1. IrishMum,
      Grand idea! I have finally gotten used to reading on my phone and it is so convenient when I’m just waiting in the car or stuck in line somewhere. Thanks for visiting!

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