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Story time! (How to crowbar more reading into your life)

[Today's post is brought to you by the amazing co-founder of OcTBR - Kathryn Alton!]

OK – so as the OcTBR Challenge kicks off in all its tantalising TBR glory [Huzzah! Gimme ALLLLL the books!], I wanted to do a quick blog post about time management. Because I know what you’re thinking: “Hey Kathryn, the OcTBR Challenge is a great idea in theory, but HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO FIND TIME TO READ?!”

Well, I hear you. As a busy mum, I’m going to be scratching around for reading time too, but that’s why OcTBR exists, to give us a reason to attempt it, and that’s also why we called it a challenge! :)

So… where is this magical reading time going to come from?

Consider ditching the screens

Before you all throw your much loved iPhones and binge-worthy box-sets at me in protest, I’m not suggesting you turn off the box completely. However, according to a 2018 study, the average adult in the UK watches television for 12 hours a week, spends 17 hours on their phone or tablet, and 12 hours using social media sites (full article from The Guardian here). That’s 41 hours A WEEK – over 164 hours during October alone! If you devote even half of that to reading, that’s 82 hours of extra reading time. You can still watch Bake off and Strictly (because – duh – how can you not?) and obviously post your OcTBR progress on Twitter, but you’ve given yourself the equivalent of nearly 7 days of extra reading time.

Embrace the short

As specified in our FAQs, anything you read will count towards your OcTBR goal. If you want the satisfaction of finishing a story all in one go, but are struggling for time, why not dive into some short stories or non-fiction? Some rail stations have machines that will print out short reads of 3-5 minutes for your rail journey, or else you could borrow an anthology from the library, or check out the myriad of short fiction available online. (I tweeted for some folks to drop links to their free shorts; find the thread here).

Go for multitasking with audiobooks and radio plays

For the month of OcTBR, why not swap some of the time you normally spend listening to music for an audiobook, radio play or podcast? Working out? Listen to an audio version from your TBR pile as you pump that iron (such a deep burn). Chores? Listen to a radio play as you clean or a podcast as you do the big weekly shop. It doesn’t have to be expensive either – many libraries now offer audiobooks free for download, and if you’re in the UK the BBC Sounds app has a wealth of content. For example, one of my top TBR books – Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments – is currently being broadcast (abridged) as handy episodes on BBC Radio 4, so I don’t even have to listen to it all at once.

Never be without a book

If you keep reading material handy, you’re simply more likely to read it. Whether it’s a stack of ebooks on your phone (classics out of copyright are often free!), a paperback in your handbag, or a comic stashed in your briefcase, always have something handy so if you get a few minutes – waiting for a bus, or in a doctor’s waiting room, for example – you can pull out your trusty reading and crack on.

Don’t be afraid to snatch the sneaky page. Or two.

As lovely as it would be to sit in a comfy armchair all day devouring books, most of us just don’t have that sort of time. But you can get a lot of reading done one page at a time. For example, I tend to read as I sit beside my little one, waiting for her to go to sleep at night. I may read only a few pages, but I’ve read several books this year that way, and it’s surprising how quickly it adds up. So whether it’s during your lunch break, on the loo, or just before you go to bed, a little bit of reading can go a long way!

So those are my top tips. The normal disclaimers apply – this is just my opinion and there are tonnes of ways to find time to read. If you have some ideas, please tweet us at @OcTBRChallenge and we’ll retweet it for the rest of the gang.

Good luck – and happy reading!


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