Saturday, August 14, 2010

Finding the Time

Reading this many books on a ten-year schedule involves a huge commitment of time and a great discipline.  How do I actually get all this reading done?  I have four secrets.

First, I take a book (or a Kindle) everywhere.  If I eat lunch alone, I have a book to read.  If I end up in a waiting room, I have a book to read.  Sometimes I only get in a page or two at a time, and it might seem that this strategy would spoil all sense of continuity.  But I figure I can either read this way, lose the train of the argument sometimes, and get more reading done, or else wait for longer continuous stretches of time and ultimately read less.  Being realistic, I remind myself that I'm only going to retain a fraction of all that I read anyway, so I go with the first option.

Second, I often read while I walk.  Almost every day, I take a walk of twenty or thirty minutes, and I take a book with me.  Sometimes I walk around the lakes close to my house; sometimes I walk around the campus or the neighborhoods close by.  I see other geeks like me only every once in a great while.  You'd think you might see more ambulatory walkers in a university town, but I actually meet more people who make funny faces or snide comments.  Oh, well, I'm happy to entertain others.

Third, I divide my reading into books that could be read for hours on end (if I find the time) and books that must be taken slowly.  Some of the books in the second category are philosophical works, some require note-taking, and some are historical works dense with facts.  For these books I make a schedule to read just a few pages a day, five days a week.  For some works, I schedule as few as five pages a day, for others as many as twenty.  Either way, I astonish myself each year at how much I can get through this way during the course of a year.  I just stick to my daily schedule as much as I can and use weekends to catch up if I must.

Finally, in December I prepare a calendar for the upcoming year.  (I posted my calendar for 2010 under a tab you can find at the top of this page.)  I glance at the calendar periodically to keep me on pace, and it usually just works.  Most years, I even get ahead a little and find time to read mysteries, children's literature, recommended books, or simply things that catch my eye. 

Now that I've started a blog, I may have to find a fifth secret of time management in order to keep up with it!  Next time, back to the list with a report on Durant's history of the Middle Ages.

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