Keeping on top of your reading goals is hard. Working full-time, being a student or supporting a family whilst trying to keep on top of your reading goals is even harder. But doing all of the things above whilst also trying to blog is the HARDEST!
Whether you’re an avid reader who has already read over 50 books this year, or the type who struggles to get into the flow of reading, we all have reading goals. We set our sights according to what we believe we are capable of, but when we don’t reach our target our response can be to get frustrated with ourselves, beat ourselves up and perhaps even stop trying to reach our goal altogether.
This is normal. We all have a perfectionist streak within ourselves and quite often this can take over when we feel as though we haven’t reached our goal because we haven’t tried hard enough.
I have read a total of 20 books this year. It’s a number I’m proud of, after all, I’ve achieved that whilst working towards by infinite uni deadlines, socialising, part-time work, moving house, decorating my new one…the list goes on really. But then I see posts from my fellow bookstagrammers/bloggers, some of whom have read a total of 50-72 books. 50-72 books. In 7 MONTHS! That’s crazy, honestly, I thought I was a fast reader until I saw what some of you crazy extraterrestrial beings get up to.
But you know what, I’m still proud of my number. I read every day, as often as I can and I’m happy with that. That’s an average of 3 books a month. I’m basically superwoman.
Nethertheless, no matter what your goals are, I for one can vouch that it gets really tricky to keep on top of them. Quite simply life gets in the way a bit and it can be hard to find that slither of time for reading.
I was recently talking with my lovely blogger friend allexxmarie (check out her blog here) and quickly realised that it wasn’t just me who struggles to keep up with their goals; we all do. We get caught up in thinking we don’t have enough time or energy, we feel ourselves slipping away from our goals so we procrastinate, we decide to do other activities like watching TV, listening to music. When we fall into these traps, we end up feeling worse about ourselves and struck to reach our own expectations.
So I decided that now would be a good to have a frank talk with myself about what I truly believe I can achieve and stick to. 3 books for me at the moment is acceptable, it may be summer but I still have a dissertation to write and that takes up a big chunk of my time. 3 books is minimum and achievable but I still need to stick to it, so I decided it was time to lay out some tips on how to stay on top of bookish goals. Carry on reading for a dash of reading inspisation (inspiration/organisation).
Be clear about your goals
The best piece of starting advice I can give you is to be honest with yourself and set out a clear attainable goal. Being honest with yourself is hard. You know full well what your aspirations are but that doesn’t mean you are going to achieve them instantly. That’s why goal setting is a fabulous tool. Making them attainable means that you are more likely to be able to reach them, tick them off and feel that blissful satisfaction when you have accomplished something.
Take this as an opportunity to reach out and build your book blogger community. We’re all here to help and be a positive force of inspiration and motivation, so make sure you get networking!
If you can’t ensure that your dedicating time to spend working on your bookish goals each day, then unfortunately you are going to struggle to reach them. Dedicating reading time doesn’t have to be this scary commitment; reading should be a pleasure not a drain. All you need to do is set a portion of time each day aside for reading. It can be in a particular place, at a particular hour. Make it a bit of a ritual, that way it will be easier to stick to.
When I’m at uni this step becomes easier. I have to travel a total of 2 hours each day and so I know that each day I am going to have at least an hour set aside purely for reading. I make it a ritual. Mornings are my time for a coffee, my notebook and whatever book I’m reading that week.
If you can’t resist temptation, destroy it
Social media is a wonderful thing but by god it is distracting. I believe it is an important tool to network, build your community and to spread your work as well as others, but it quickly becomes a full time job. Some mornings when I’m desperate to read, I still manage to find myself sucked into the social book blogger world. It’s all too easy, you post something, people like it, comment and so you reply.
That’s not to say that we should all ditch our social media accounts, like I said, I think they’re very important, but we need to establish boundaries. There is a time and a place to be using our phones and it is not while we’re reading. Sure, we need to still take aesthetically pleasing pictures, copy down quotes that we love and share, but do that after we’ve finished our slot of dedicated reading time.
This is easier said than done, and so if putting your phone out of arm’s reach, switching it off or putting it on airplane mode is utterly mortifying then compromise with yourself. Perhaps try something like a timed app lock so that for a set period you cannot access your social media. For more ideas and to see what works for you, read this article on how to stop your smartphone addiction.
You know those books that you read every so often that just leave such a huge impression on you that you don’t possibly believe you could ever read a book quite so fantastic ever again? You know how when after you finish those books, you pick up a new one and it just falls…flat? This is because your mind is still caught up in the world of the last book you read, the characters, the language, the place; you can’t stop thinking about it. Don’t worry, this isn’t obsession, it’s a sign of good literature. You need time to ruminate over what you just read to come to terms with its message, make sense of it and salvage the way in which it made you feel.
Naturally, when this happens to you, you try (or should do) to take a day or 2 off from reading something new, to let the book settle and come to terms with its end. You need to reach equillibrium before you can muddle your brain with something new.
To be honest, I think this is a good technique for every boom you finish. Reading slumps (for me at least) commonly take place after I just become sick of hoping from one book to the next. That sense of needing to reach a goal gets in the way of enjoyment and means that I don’t actually have time to sit and absorb what happened or to fully understand how it made me feel. Can you say that you’ve read a book if you haven’t truly understood it? Reading is an active process that you take part in and so, if you’re just passively zooming over each word and page, you haven’t really read it. So make sure you allow a little respite period between each book.
Read because you want to, not because you have to
How many times have you taken weeks, months or years to get through a book just because you felt like you needed to?
Wasting time forcing your way through a book just because it’s on your TBR, just because you’re halfway through it, or just because somebody recommended it to you isn’t worth it. It completely slows down your reading process and results in your goal very quickly dropping out of sight.
Discarding a book just because it doesn’t connect with you doesn’t make you a bad reader, nor does it mean that you’re not going to reach your goals. It just means that you have to be frugal with your time and persevering with a text that doesn’t speak to you right now is unproductive. Read it because you want to, not because you have to. If you force yourself to read it you won’t actually take it in and then it has become nothing more than a waste of time.
So put that book back on the shelf and come back to it in a few years. I did this myself last year with The Great Gatsby; after struggling to read the book and abandoning it, last summer I picked it up from my shelf and I knew it was the right time to read (and fall in love with) it.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Let me know if you have any more in the comments bellow; spread the blogger love, we all need a little help sometimes!
Copyright: Laura Davis © 2018, all rights reserved.