How to read when you’re busy! Part 1…

Clock & books - image

Photo courtesy ©iStockphoto/SarapulSar38

I wonder if you’ve ever thought, “I’d like to read more, but I just don’t have the time!”

Mm, me too.

The benefits of reading are many, but it’s a tough challenge.

Here’s what worked for me…

Part 1 – Winning the mind game…

I’d been in practice a few years and began to realise that I was getting more and more out of touch with research. I hadn’t really read much since college, a number of years before.

There are a few reasons why this might have been. Here are some excuses that I used that might resonate with you, too:

  • Work is busy enough without reading about it too…
  • No-one else in the office reads much – at least not about work…
  • I know the job pretty well now – I’m not sure I really need to read…
  • Books are expensive and just not a priority…

I feel a bit embarrassed now to think about my attitude, but I guess progress starts with realising the need for change!

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How I made the shift to reading…

In the year 2000 (ish!) I hit on a way of working that has kept me reading (with the odd lull) ever since.

These are not a panacea, but I hope they might help you to find your own combination of steps to get reading again.

  • Admit you don’t know it all – you may know more than most or more than you did to start with. But you don’t know it all. Neither do I. Because we are professionals-whether it be youth work, social work, youth offending team work, teaching, secure estate, drugs work, fostering/adoption, mental health, probation, psychology, etc.-we’ve trained a long time to get where we are. But what got us here? Reading. So why do we stop? Realising this is the first step on the road to reviving our reading and improving our practice – whatever field we’re in.
  • Determine to do something about it – just like at college, the reading won’t do it itself. We have to crack on and start. Before we make a plan, it’s a good move to make some kind of mental determination-a decision if you will-that something needs to be done. This is
    Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/PhotoEuphoria

    Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/PhotoEuphoria

    what helped me at first – living with the idea that I needed to read more, learn more, expose my mind to research and new ideas. This allowed me time to chew over how best to do it.

  • Start “sample reading” – one way of finding a focus for your reading is to try it. Sample a few topics and see what piques your interest. Doing this is good in itself – you’re now reading, after all! It won’t take long to eliminate stuff you’re not interested in. But you’ll soon hit on something you want to read around a little more.
  • Try audio books – these are great for “reading” on the move. You download the book you want to your phone, tablet, iPod or whatever and away you go. Great for getting through material when you’re running, driving, sunbathing, etc. Give it a whirl…

Final thoughts…

People, including me, tend to fall most easily during the early stages of change. Starting the change is a great first step. Now, stick at it! 

In the next blog post, we’ll move on a bit more and look at a couple of practical steps that worked for me. By then, you’ll know what sort of subject matter you’re interested in…

Struggling to find time to read ? Give audio books a try…

What do you think?…

  • What are your views on reading as a tool for improving practice? 
  • What’s hindered or helped you in your quest to read more?…

What are your thoughts?

Please let me know what your thoughts are… Leave a comment below or click here.

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