Habit Spotlight: Reading

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I’ve been in a huge reading mood lately. There’s something special about getting lost in another world, another story. Bookstores are, by far, some of my favorite places to visit whenever possible (besides coffee shops, of course). There’s something magical about stepping into a bookstore and being overwhelmed by the endless possibilities and stacks upon stacks of books.

Growing up, I was definitely a reader. I preferred curling up with a good book instead of watching TV. My parents are also huge readers so being surrounded by books was not out of the ordinary for our family. We frequently stopped at the library and I joined summer reading competitions more than once.

In high school, I opted for Honors English, in which one of the requirements was to read 50 books in an academic year. Although this might sound overwhelming to some, I never shied away from a challenge.

Then college came. The habit of reading for fun was only practiced during the summer months. During the academic months, I hardly had time to pick up a book for PLEASURE. The books I read were related to my courses, and although some were interesting, most were text-books.

I’d sometimes study in bookstores because I loved the atmosphere and being surrounded by books. I’d see all of new releases and couldn’t wait until summer to read for fun again. At this time, audiobooks weren’t as popular as they are now so listening to a book wasn’t something I even thought of.

Fast forward a few years and the love for reading is still there. This year my goal is to read at least 35 books (not Honors English level, but I’ll get there!). I use Goodreads to track my progress and books I want to read. The hardest part was getting back into the habit of reading daily, and when I did sit down to read, the constant distraction of my phone seemed to always be hindering my progress.

Here are a few ways I’ve made reading part of my everyday routine so I crawl closer and closer to my goals:

  1. Set a timer. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time (even 10 minutes will do), but this helps me stay focused on reading when I know I’m being timed. It also eliminates the urge to check my phone every 5 minutes.
  2. Schedule the time. Sounds obvious, but finding the time to focus on reading is half the battle. Select time in your schedule when you’re the most likely to read, and plan on it. Don’t say you’ll “find time,” but actually schedule the time into your routine so it has a timeframe.
  3. Listen to audiobooks. Some say audiobooks don’t count toward your reading goal, but I’m in the camp that they definitely do. Yes, you can easily get distracted listening to a book while doing other things, so learning when to listen helps with that. For example, I only listen to audiobooks when doing something mindless that doesn’t require my full attention (i.e., doing my makeup, folding clothes, walking on the treadmill).
  4. Use Goodreads. Goodreads has honestly motivated me to stay on track on reading because I can update my progress and visually see how much of the book left to go. I also set my yearly reading goal on there so I can see how close I am to reaching it.
  5. Quit a book if it’s not for you. There are SO many awesome books out there that if you start a book and it doesn’t thrill you, quit it. Seriously. Don’t waste your time dragging through a book when there is a plethora of choices out there waiting for you!
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How I’m Becoming a Morning Person

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I hate to admit this because I never thought I’d say it.

I’m *slowly* becoming a morning person.

Not one of those “I wake up at 3am every day for fun” people. I’ll never be like that. I’m talking about the “I wake up at 6am” person, which may sound unimpressive but that is really early for me.

Apparently you are either a Night Owl or an Early Bird, and for years I thought I was the former. I stay awake until at least 12-1am almost every night and I thought that made me a Night Owl.

However when I started thinking about it, I’m not productive at night. I’m not inspired by or find that my prime hours of creativity are when the sun is asleep. I would rather watch a movie or read a book at night, not create something or clean my house. I realized I’m way more productive and motivated in the morning.

Now that I’ve started to embrace this realization, I love learning about others’ morning routines. YouTube is a jackpot for this. Learning what people do during their morning routines has helped me pinpoint what I can implement into my own.

If you’re like me and want a morning routine, or maybe you’re curious what I do before work, just keep reading.

{ONE} Create a to-do list the night before.

I’ve mentioned this in other blog posts but it is so important I’m telling you again. Creating a to-do list the night before helps me wake up focused and ready to conquer the day. I even add obvious to-dos like making my bed because who doesn’t like checking things off and feeling productive? 😉

{TWO} Don’t check social media.

This is a BIG one and something that is extremely difficult for me to do. I could write an entire blog post dedicated to this, but I’ll refrain (for now). I recently listened to an episode of The Date Night Diaries with Steve & Stacy Hart that was all about how the screen affects us. I was instantly motivated to change my habit of checking social media first thing in the morning. I find myself absentmindedly scrolling through Instagram and Twitter all the time. It’s insane how much time you can waste aimlessly scrolling. No one needs that kind of distraction in the morning and believe me, social media can wait a few hours! Put it aside, get things done, and enjoy being unplugged for a bit.

{THREE} Make your bed.

If you read about successful people and their habits, one theme is they all make their beds in the morning. It instantly makes your bedroom cleaner and helps start your day productive and ready to take on anything. A simple habit like making your bed can be the stepping stone to a good day ahead. As soon as I wake up, I make my bed because it also forces me to stay awake instead of crawling back between the sheets.

{FOUR} Drink water…

I have a difficult time drinking enough water most days. As soon as I wake up, I try to drink at least 16 ounces of water. Some people drink more, others less. As long as water is the first thing you consume, you’re off to a good start.

{FIVE} Then get coffee, ASAP. 

Honestly though, water’s great and all but it doesn’t have caffeine. As a “reward” to myself after drinking my morning water, I get coffee ASAP. It honestly is so nice to drink coffee while going through my morning routine instead of chugging it in the car on the way to work. There’s something about a cute mug filled with coffee that just gets to me every time.

{SIX} Straighten up.

Whether it’s putting clothes away or tossing junk mail, I also try to straighten up a bit. When my surroundings are clear, my mind is clear. It’s a pleasing sight to see that my space is already clean when I come home at the end of the work day.

{SEVEN} Read.

As mentioned before, one of my 2018 goals is to read more. One of the ways I’m fitting this into my daily routine is to read for at least 15-30 minutes in the morning. Whether it’s a few pages or a few chapters, it doesn’t matter. As long as I’m inching my way closer to completing the goal, I’m good!

{EIGHT} Start your get ready routine.

Eventually the “fun stuff” comes to an end and I have to begin by get ready routine. This isn’t as exciting as the other things, but one of the major pros to waking up earlier is doing all the other stuff BEFORE the get ready routine. By waking up earlier, I no longer scramble to fit everything I need to do within a crunched timeframe. Establishing a morning routine is helpful and ensures your day is off to a great (and productive) start.