It will come as no surprise that, for many, reading books is a great way of calming the mind. However, it may seem next to impossible to find the time for books when you have several assignments waiting to be completed — or even started — and you can’t seem to clean your conscience whenever you eye your bookshelf longingly after a long, long night of essay-writing.
This year, I’ve found myself in this exact predicament more often than not. Every time I finish an exam block or a specially intense series of assignments, I can’t bring myself to open up a book for fear of another school task popping up.
Irrational as it may be, the act of turning to page one of a book is a daunting commitment that requires either of these two things: the certainty that I don’t have any upcoming tasks due, or the certainty that I won’t be completely enthralled in a book in the midst of any tasks. Both are extremely difficult to come by — human flaw, I guess — so I’ve had to devise a plan of attack. My Goodreads had suffered immensely from inactivity and I hadn’t read for leisure in what seemed like forever.
For the most part, my plan of attack was simple: a reward system. Some people reward themselves with social media time, friend time, gaming time. I found a great motivation in reading time.
Specifically, every time a new task materialised, I would start it straight away. Creating a Word document, highlighting, writing an introduction — these are all ways to just get the ball rolling. Are they predominantly a fixture of superficial productivity? Quite possibly, yes. But tasks tend to seem less daunting to me when I know that at least I have something — even just a fancy heading.
After just starting a task, I would often segment different work from different subjects into my timetable — which, by the way, is short of free time already. These segments would usually last an hour or two in the evening, with two segments per night. All up, a maximum of four hours a night would be dedicated to work — kind of.
Thing is, these four hours don’t have to necessarily be a straight four hours of intense work. (Though this method may prove effective to other people, I know that I would never have the kind of mental energy to sit down knowing what was ahead of me.)
Thirty minute intervals would most probably be spent on reading a book as a reward for getting through an hour or two of work. To put it simply, if I could get work done — and done well, if I revised in the following days — then I could immerse myself in my favourite books.
Further, I would make it my mission that every time I opened up a book, I would finish an entire chapter. In doing so, I wouldn’t be left feeling interrupted or coerced into leaving behind these magnificent fantasy worlds, even if only for an hour.
So far, this has proved effective in my time management and deeply ingrained need to read for leisure. I’ve managed to stick to schedules relatively well, especially when taking into consideration the increased workload of senior studies, and I haven’t compromised the activity I most love doing: reading.
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