How to Be Awesome at Sneaking In More Reading Time (Without Getting Fired)

Posted by Danielle Mohlman

Photo via Blogging Cage

My friends know me as The Reader. They never call me this to my face, but my phone is filled with texts asking for book recommendations, silences are filled with questions about what I’m reading, and folks who come over to my apartment often leave with something from my library tucked under their arm. (I’ve lost more books than I care to admit this way.) Since 2010, I’ve read fifty-two books a year. Give or take.  I just love books so much, guys.

Over the years, I’ve read magazine articles and blog posts listing ways to sneak in more reading time. And they’re great. But recently, I’ve been seeing tips that include keeping an ebook open on your desktop at work or going for a “cigarette break” with your novel. And I know that if I tried to pull something like that at work, I’d be called into a meeting to discuss my job performance. So here are some ways I sneak reading into my day – without getting fired.

Read during lunch. I’ve been reading during my lunch break for as long as I can remember. When I changed jobs a couple of years ago, I had to get used to blocking out other coworkers’ conversations at nearby tables in exchange for a few chapters at lunchtime. Every once in a while, I’ll find an unoccupied corner of the office where my reading is surrounded by silence. These are the best days. Just me, my bagged lunch, and that week’s protagonist. It’s the best way to break up the workday. 

Perfect the walk-and-read. Like Belle in that opening sequence of Beauty and the Beast, I’ve perfected the walk-and-read. I live in a city and rely on public transportation and bike sharing to get me where I need to be, but some days my book demands to be paired up with the weather. It’s not unheard of for me to add to my commute by walking to the next subway stop or bike station with my eyes glued to the page. But don’t worry! I make sure to put my book down and look both ways before crossing the street.

Try audiobooks. I’m a huge podcast nerd and what’s an audiobook but a really long podcast? Audiobooks are great. I’m in an admittedly rare position where my boss doesn’t mind if I have headphones in at work. I do a lot of data entry and I’ve found that listening to podcasts has improved my productivity. I brought audiobooks into the mix earlier this year and it’s taken some experimentation to get me into the rhythm of listening to long-form audio. I discovered that as long as my audiobook is completely different from what I’m reading, I’m happy. If I’m deeply engrossed in a young adult novel, my audiobook has to be non-fiction essays. It’s all about balance here.

Find a quiet place. When the weather is so perfect and the book is difficult to put down, I sneak off to my quiet reading place. It’s a few blocks from my apartment – a publicly situated alcove between a government building and a baseball stadium, next to rushing man-made waterfalls. It is a luxury to walk there after work and sit on the concrete ledge with a soda and whatever book I’m reading. I can sit there for hours, deafened by the sound of the water and listening to the characters. It’s a place I go to read a book, not to finish one. I don’t know why that is. Something about the adventure that a novel can take you on? Something about not ever wanting good things to end? 

Read in line. I’ve started pulling out my book whenever I have to wait for something, and that includes standing in line for food. Or for theatre tickets. Or at self-checkout on solo grocery runs. I wait in line a lot. (We all do, I suppose.) And I’ve started taking advantage of that waiting time.  It takes the same amount of concentration as lunchtime reading to block out the noises of the check stand or the restaurant, but the pages snuck into those five minutes here, ten minutes there are glorious.