When the world first began to properly grapple with COVID-19 and we went into lockdown, some of us pledged to use that time to work on ourselves: to learn a new language or instrument, to learn to cook, or to finally make time for reading. But the truth, that many of us weren’t prepared for, is that living through a pandemic is hard. Being in lockdown is hard. And for people who were still working full-time, that free time we thought would materialise simply did not.
I was one of the people who wanted to make the most of lockdown and upskill, especially as I was not in full-time employment. In some ways I did – I chaired the Burning Work conference on Windrush Day, I completed OISC training too. But I also wanted to catch up on my reading, to tackle my TBR pile. I started out great, and then…
Boom. Reading slump.
I just couldn’t do it. Couldn’t get my mind to focus enough to take in the words on the page. The world was on fire and I became addicted to doom scrolling. Then when that became too much I found my escapism in the 16 seasons of Grey’s Anatomy.
Now, we’re in lockdown again. This time it is winter (read: dark and cold) and I am working full-time. I spend each day at my computer screen and, when I am not looking at that, I’m looking at the same old walls. However, I’m determined not to let this lockdown be like the last. Reading is my favourite hobby and it saddens me that this pandemic and the state of the world stole so much of my joy last year that I couldn’t find the time and space for it.
As I discussed in my last post, I’m doing four reading challenges this year, and I’m making progress in each of my books. Want to know how I’m doing it? How to break out of your own reading slump? Read on.
- Start with an easy read
Something short, simple and captivating. I know you probably have many anti-racism books to read that you bought last summer (lol), but you’ll never get round to reading them – or anything else – if you can’t get your reading mojo back. If you start with a short, easy novel, the sense of accomplishment you’ll feel when you finish – along with the momentum you’ll have created – will have you reaching for your next read immediately.
- Make reading part of your routine
If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, it’s that in this world we live in – with so much to do and so many distractions – we’ll never get anything done that we don’t actively make time for. Gone are the days (if they ever existed) where we will just magically find the time to do things, and that includes the things we love. So, make time for your reading by making it part of your routine. For example, I take myself off to bed about half an hour before I need to go to sleep and I read for a bit. Now that I’m no longer commuting, I actually have time to make myself breakfast in the morning and enjoy it away from a computer screen, so I read a few pages while I’m eating. Try making little pockets of time for your reading and you’ll be surprised at how much you get through, and how much better you feel for it.
I said before that I’ve never really been into audiobooks, but for the first time this year I’m giving them a proper try. So far, I have to say it’s been truly helpful and enjoyable. Even though it’s dark and cold, as part of my self-care this lockdown I’m making an effort to go outside and get fresh air. So on days when I don’t go for runs in the morning I go for walks after work, during which time I listen to my audiobook. See? Two birds with one stone: exercise and reading.
- Track your reads
Ok, so this one might not work for everyone – it might make it feel more like a chore for some. But I am someone who is very goal-driven, so I like to track the progress I’m making on each of my books. I currently use Goodreads to do this. I like updating my page progress each day after I’ve read a chapter or two and seeing what percentage of the book I’ve read thus far. Again, I’m motivated by that feeling of accomplishment. Like I said, this may not work for some, but if you’re like me and you like to track progress this might be a helpful motivator for you.
So there you have it. A few (hopefully) useful tips on how to get your reading mojo back. Let me know if any of them work for you or if you have other tips that are worth sharing.