Now that I’m a month into my 2015 efforts to make better use of my time, I thought I’d talk about one area I knew going in that I would have to work on:
I spent a LOT of time reading junk.
The internet is a dangerous time-suck, as we all know. I’ve spent countless hours on websites that have no value, and while it’s nice sometimes to check out and read something stupid, I do it way too often. Reading magazines, gossip websites, and Reddit started taking over my free time. After a while, I started to realize that when I wasn’t watching dumb crap on the television, I was reading dumb crap online.
So in an effort to “clean up” my reading habits, I’ve started to change what I read, and when. It led to me establishing a few new rules for myself, both to curb my spending on books and my time spent on reading nonsense.
Rule #1: No more buying reading material
This rule came about partly because I’m currently unemployed and don’t have the money to spend on books. It also happened because I saw the number of books I had to toss/donate when I moved, and it hit me that I was buying way too many books. I don’t re-read books, like, ever – so why spend money on something I’ll use for a week and then leave sitting around? So, I got a library card, and started to find books for free on my iPad. Now that I can even get most of the magazines I read for free, this rule is going to be easy to follow.
Rule #2: Read one book each month that’s for learning, not for fun
I wanted to set this rule for myself because I spend a lot of time reading, but not a lot of time learning. I know that if I stick to it, I can learn a lot of useful things for my profession – all in the time it took me in the last year to learn about eye creams and the Duchess of Cambridge. The library has been a huge help with this, and I recently picked up a book on social media management – a book I can use to build a skill for work, and one that can help me better manage the blog as well.
Rule #3: Blogs for breakfast, YouTube for lunch
Two things that take up a lot of my reading/watching time are blogs and YouTube. So, I’ve forced myself to keep blog reading to breakfast – which is easy because most blogs run on east coast time, so they’re up hours before I am. I also limit my YouTube watching to lunch time, since it’s the perfect time for me to sit back and relax in the middle of my day. My rule is that when I’m done eating, I quit and head back to work. It’s easier for me to tie these two things to something I already do regularly, and so far it has helped keep me on track.
Rule #4: Read a real book before bedtime
I find that I can’t sleep if I’m on a screen right before bed, so I have gotten back in the habit of reading a book before bedtime. It helps me relax, and distracts my brain from whatever is stressing me out. Anxiety has been a major reason why I haven’t been sleeping well, and reading before bed helps with that. Well, that and a good dose of melatonin. It’s hard to put the phone down before bed, but I keep reminding myself that no one is online that late, and the rest can wait until morning.
Rule #5: As with all things in life, moderation is key
One thing about making rules for ourselves is the guilt that hits us when we break them. It’s why diets don’t work many of us – if we fall, why bother getting back up? While these are rules I’ve established for myself over the past month, I haven’t always stuck to them – and that’s okay. I have nights where I don’t read at all, and days where I get anxious or upset and need to unwind with a good dose of Cooking With Dog videos (seriously, look that up on YouTube – they’re amazing). What’s important is that I’m making choices that will affect me positively over time, and that it will take time to phase out the old time wasters.
My hope is that I can rediscover my passion for reading, and for learning new things. The past year was all about making major changes in my life, and this year is about getting back to what makes me thrive – and reading quality things is a big part of that.