Q&A: Finding Time to Read and Blog

From Jacki:
I'm curious how you fit time to blog and read?!! And how do you read without falling asleep (not from a boring book, but because you must be tired!)?
At first I was going to answer this question by talking about time management or priorities. We don't have television, for instance, so I don't get sucked in to watching it. I've mostly put aside my design work and sewing and I don't scrapbook very often anymore, leaving more time for reading and blogging.

And I thought about writing about all the things I don't have time for, like keeping my house as clean as I want or organizing the garage or trying new recipes. But then I realized the answer to how I find time to blog and read is simple: It's important to me. And the reason I don't clean out or become a master chef is the opposite: It's not important to me.

I think we all have amazing abilities to fit in what's most important to us. Sometimes we look at another person with a talent different than our own and think, "Well, if I just wasn't so busy . . ." or "How in the world does she find time to do that?" I admire my friends who are always cooking up something new and exciting in their kitchen, for example, and it's tempting to say it's because I'm too busy that I don't do that, but really, it's because I've chosen to focus my efforts on other things. Other friends are amazing with sewing or decorating or celebrating holidays or photography or hosting parties or other wonderful things. Me? I dabble in Photoshop, love to write, and devour books.

Through the years, I have had to give up some of my hobbies or find ways to simplify them. For example, I used to make hardbound books that included scrapbook pages with tons of journaling and all the best pictures. Now, I simply take this blog, my weekly emails, and throw them in a book, adding a few scrapbook pages and lots of the best pictures. The goal of keeping my family history and especially the family stories preserved is met, but it takes less time. I used to sew a lot but I don't anymore. I'm still grateful I have the skills to do it and I hope that somewhere in the distance I might take time for it again, but it's not important enough to me to fit it in now.

Reading is something that's always been as natural as breathing to me, and I do it anytime I have a moment free. I usually have four or five books I'm reading at a time and I tend to leave them around the house. So there's always something close by to read. I read the newspaper after I feed the kids breakfast. If I don't get through it then, I read again after I feed the kids lunch. If I'm still not done, I'll often sit down with a snack after the kids go to bed and finish it then. I know newspapers are a dying breed, and it makes me sad. There's something so satisfying about getting my world, national, and local news every day in print. I hope I never have to change to reading it on the internet.

I try to keep a book or a magazine in my purse so I can steal a few moments to read. I'm a fast reader, and I read the Ensign, National Geographic, Reader's Digest, and the Smithsonian every month as well as mostly non-fiction books. I gave up reading most fiction when my oldest was a baby because I realized I have no self-control when there is a good story involved. I find myself staying up way too late at night to see how something ends or find it's way too easy to read instead of getting the housework done. If I'm reading a fiction book, I almost always finish it within a day or two. With non-fiction, I usually find it easy to put it down after a few pages or a chapter and it doesn't bother me if it takes a month or more to finish.

As for falling asleep, I actually find it hard to sleep unless I read before I go to bed. I try to go to bed around 9:00 so I have time to read the scriptures for a half an hour or so as well as whatever else I'm currently reading. I'll often read for an hour or two before I shut off the light and fall asleep. I enjoy having new ideas and experiences to think about and ponder while I go to sleep. In fact, I think those moments when I settle in and wait for sleep to come are some of my best ones of the day, maybe because I have my thoughts all to myself with only sweet sleep to interrupt.

I really enjoy blogging and I thrive on the opportunity to formulate my thoughts and come up with the right words to express my feelings. Frankly, it's also nice to know I'm interacting with adults -- after talking to kids all day, it's nice to interact in some measure with other mothers.
I get a little thrill knowing that someone's reading my words and it feels wonderful to get comments (insert shameful begging here: I really, really like those comments!).

Most important to me are the times when I've felt like I've been able to be of help and encouragement to others with this blog. It feels great to know that my experiences might lift others.

To find the time for it, I like to hop on the computer for a few minutes here and there during the day, but usually (until morning sickness took over!), I use the time in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed and DH is working to update my blog or read and comment on other people's. I am pretty vigilant about making sure I don't allow the computer to take over my life. I installed TimeTracker on Firefox at the beginning of the year and I keep an eye on how long I'm using the internet, because I know there are lots of other important things I also need to fit into my life.

What are your hobbies and talents? What do you always make time for, no matter how busy you are?


Tiffany Wacaser said…
I solved my problem with reading fiction (I, too, get really sucked in and can't function if I get involved in a story) by listening to books on audio tape or CD while I clean, wash dishes, cook meals, etc.

I used to spend a lot more time on the computer, but I found that I was frittering away time that could be better spent doing other things I really loved doing.

As a mother, I realized I don't have the luxury of starting and finishing something right away. Learning how to take and do things in pieces has really helped me find joy in projects and things I love.

Your final question has intriqued me, but is one I need to think about before I respond completely.
I enjoy reading your blog and make time for it. I agree with you that when you have a strong interest you make time. Writing on my blog is on of the few relaxing things I get to do. Thank goodness for hotspots around town. I can get online almost anywhere to type my feelings and life down. I feel like a better mother of 6 (almost 7) because I can document and keep track of the kids' lives.
Jacki said…
Thanks. I'm glad you like to blog so I can read it :)
I think sometimes (most of the time) that I am trying to do too many things, that it seems I'm not doing any of them- or at least as well or as much as I'd like. I'll have to think about that some.
Tiffany Wacaser said…
I think we all need to access our hobbies and habits from time to time. At the beginning of this year when I was so sick, I really had to decide what was most important. I need to rest more than anything so I could function for a 2-3 hour period when my older children came home from school. I cut back on everything--including housework. I only did minimal cooking and made sure the dishes were done. Other than that, I rested so that I could be at my best in the afternoon. That often meant that Brooke and I were downstairs in the basement for the majority of the day. She would play with her toys or watch videos while I rested on the couch.

A few months ago, I had some scrapbooking projects I wanted to complete, so I stopped blogging for a period, and cut out a lot of computer time. I stuck to my goal of doing 3 pages a day. That felt great and I was able to do a lot on that project.

Then when we moved, I put away my crafting projects and focused on getting settled into our house.

The last month, I've focused on preparing for our baby. I finished my quilting project, which was so fun, organized, etc.

Next week, will start a new phase. We'll have a newborn in the house again and so I think that I'll focus mainly on staying well, taking care of the baby and keeping up with boys after school. I'll probably do a lot of reading during that time.

In a few months, I'll probably re-evaluate and change some things. But I feel content in doing things in this way.
alligood said…
Like you, I LOVE to read. Unlike you, I haven't been able to switch to non-fiction books (I am lacking in the self-control department, there!) I also love to cook. It is important to me to have a hot, nutritious meal on the table at dinnertime. Having all boys makes that hobby very rewarding. They eat anything I cook and it's easy to love cooking when you have sweet people asking for more! It's also important to me to cook from scratch and to always use glass plates, glasses, and real silverware. One thing that many large families do is buy large packages of disposable dishes. I don't want that for my family (again, just something that's important to me). I don't have the passion for writing that you do. I blog mainly to keep a record for our family. I am terrible at journaling and the guilt just eats away at me. Neglecting my blog doesn't make me feel guilty, and I feel like I can just pick up and keep blogging whenever I wish. The result is a guilt-free record that I cherish!
Handsfullmom said…
Allison, I absolutely agree about using real place settings at the table. I was very surprised to learn that at least two large TV families used paper every day. I just cannot fathom that kind of waste.
Unknown said…
This is an absolutely perfect post -- a wisdom-filled lesson that applies to me with my little family as perfectly as a large family. You are right when you wrote, "it's tempting to say it's because I'm too busy that I don't do that, but really, it's because I've chosen to focus my efforts on other things."

I realize that my focus can be just as easily spent on things that aren't really that important to me -- so am I focusing on the things I really want.

Again, thank you thank you!

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