Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Two Hours of Reading Time A Day

When I was writing up my end of the year post, I mentioned that I had roughly two hours of reading time a day and a couple of you asked some questions about that which I thought I would take the time to answer in a separate post.

Q1: I have a practical question about your blogging practices, which you don't have to answer: does the 2 hours a day include your blogging time? If not, how much time (and more importantly, when?) do you blog? To write a thoughtful review takes me quite a while!

A1: Yes. It does. So if I spend about an hour writing up a post then I only have one hour left to read. Because of that I really try to only sit down and write up my thoughts on books when I'm in the mood to do so. If I'm not in the mood I end up clicking around on Facebook or checking my Google Reader about a thousand times hoping someone else said something interesting.

Just like the person who asked this question, a thoughtful blog post on any given book takes me anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour to think through and type up. I can type fast but the thoughts need to be ready to flow or else I feel like I'm sitting down next to the computer to waste time.

My two hours of available time typically takes place between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. (During that time I really don't like visitors at the house and I dislike talking on the phone. I particularly do not like talking on the phone. When the kids are down for their quiet/nap times I like to be able to focus on reading and writing and that's the only time of day I have for either! I guard it rather ferociously as a result. I used to feel guilty about this. I don't anymore.

Q2: Does your blogging time include reading others' blogs?

A2: It's not supposed to, no. (But sometimes it does when I'm feeling lazy and distracted.) I try to read other people's blogs in the morning when I'm eating breakfast. Jonathan is the Morning Hero around here. I'm a slow starter and I'm also, by nature, a rather quiet, introverted person. Three kids making noise for several hours every day holds me to certain limits. Before Jonathan goes to work, he feeds the kids breakfast while I eat mine and that's the time I usually scroll through my Google reader and play catch up. I also save my reading of other blogs until the evening after the kids go to bed.

Bekahcubed wrote a post once about valuing time and cleaning out her Google Reader. She wasn't trying to be mean or suggest bloggy rudeness. But she did prompt me to start thinking about setting my priorities. While I think it would be fun to read a great many more blogs than I do, I also know the following about myself and my time:

a.) Time is limited and my reading/blog habits need to be contained and manageable.
b.) I either personally know (in "real life") people who blog and/or I've gotten to know a few of you really well and I like tracking with your lives.
c.) I also like leaving comments as I follow along with people's lives and thoughts. (We all like comments, right? So I try to follow the "do unto others" bloggy rule and leave comments consistently.)

What this results in is my following (closely) about a dozen-ish blogs. I cleaned up my Reader a bit and got it down to a manageable amount so that I'm never TOO far behind in my blog reading and I'm also able to glean valuable information to think on from the blogs I do read.

I have a "real life" friend who models a great deal of self-discipline for me when it comes to observing a personal time of refreshment/devotion and also makes sure that she is spending time where it really matters - with her kids and family, building a home. She'll be quick to tell you that she's still working on balance and using her time appropriately -- as we all are, I'm quite certain. She has been a great source of encouragement to me to find balance in what I want to do and ought to do and love to do.

Honestly, I never thought I'd be a person who liked structure and consistency but now that I have three little ones I see a great deal of beauty in structure and stability! (Are you chuckling at me? I'm snickering at myself!) Times and seasons in life change and I imagine I won't always have the same morning routine. I also know that there are periods in life (such as the period after Bookworm3 was born) where I won't have those valuable 2 hours available to me each afternoon. For now, this sort of schedule seems to work for me, for us, and for our family. It gives me time to do "my thing" (while still being in the home, which I am very grateful for!) and also forces me to be disciplined with "my" time so that I am not neglecting the family. It allows my kids to have some quiet time themselves in the afternoon to sleep, read and play. (I think that's very important also.) And it keeps the house stable. It really works for us!

Now, I know I have the two hours for now. The question is - do I use it well and will I keep using it well? This is the constant battle.


Monica said...

Great blog post. I am working on protecting my time, in many areas. I went through my Google Reader and really cut a lot. It kind of made me sad, but for the first time in a long time, I am actually reading the blogs I follow. (Yours made the cut, lol!) Thank you for taking the time to share with us!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Thanks for answering my question, Carrie! Right now I have tons of blog-reading time now because I'm still nursing the DLM and we have wi-fi (which is often a curse) and an iPod touch which I can hold and manipulate while rocking and nursing. Of course, I SHOULD be reading books instead. What I have a hard time with us figuring out what I want to model for my kids!

Bluerose said...

I agree about the Google Reader thing! I've been slowly trying to narrow my list WAY down, so that I can actually have time to read all the blogs I follow. At this point, it's just impossible, and I don't even try! I've collected entirely too many.
I've been struggling with trying to find a schedule that works for us, so you've given me more to think about!

Annette W. said...

Thanks for a great sharing.

You motivated me to cut my list. I'm guessing I just unsubscribed to about 1/3 of my subscriptions.

Katrina said...

I really appreciated this post as I'm working on my personal planning/schedule and trying to be more disciplined about my time. It's so easy to just randomly surf the Internet, or to let my Google Reader get out of control (as it is now) because I'm afraid to prune it. But I'm trying to get that balance where I make the important things really important. We have afternoon quiet time around here, and I, too, guard it! Right now, I use it for excercise and some writing, and I often just turn off the phone ringer completely. :)

Heather said...

Thanks, I've been struggling with being able to find time in a day anymore for my books so this is a great post for me.

Janet said...

I enjoyed reading this. It sounds like you have a good sense of your boundaries with the Internet and you manage your time well. "Internet-creep" happens so easily if we're not aware.

I so relate to your comments about being a quiet-loving person in a house full of... not so quietness. :-) I've instituted a half hour of quiet in the afternoons -- just for silent reading. I'm hoping that can be increased over time, but we're starting small.

BerlinerinPoet said...

Well, I'm impressed by your organization. I hear you about only blogging when you have something to say. I'll end up somewhere else online and wasting time.

Time management has always been an uphill battle for me, but at least now I know it has been for you too. Gives me hope. :-)

Sky said...

I like how you addressed the questions. I crave my reading time and have to be careful not to let overtake more of my life. My time with my family is precious too!

Stephanie Kay said...

I also like to guard my 2 hour nap/rest time after lunch. AND I like to start my morning slowly and quietly. Thankfully I have a husband who doesn't mind taking the morning shift.

This weekend I reorganized my google reader. I unsubscribed from a ton of blogs because the author hasn't written there in months and months, some were even a year of two. No point in keeping that subscription. It was just visual clutter.

Then I set up new categories based on blog niche - my family, college friends, home management, blog info, homeschool, thought provoking. I also made a "daily read" category and arranged the blogs in it in the order for me to read each day. By the way, you are in the #1 position. ;) I have about 20 blogs in the daily reads but a lot of those don't post every day.

One final tip for Google Reader: star the posts that are meaningful to you. For example, with RTK - the books that I want to go back and read I check the star button. When I reorganized my subscriptions there were some blogs that posted every day but had no or very few stars. Why keep reading a blog that doesn't speak to me and I have no relationship with the author?

Barbara H. said...

Life with little does give you built-in limitations on free time. My challenge is, with the older two out of the nest and the youngest just on the verge and gone from home several hours a day, I could easily spend much of the day on the computer if I let myself -- and reading good stuff. It would be an easier decision if I had to choose between bad and good, but it's between better and best. I've valued and loved being a mom at home but I know God didn't allow that for me to sit at the computer in excess, so I've had to trim my Google Reader at times, too. If I find myself continually scanning through someone's posts rather than reading them, I figure it's time to stop reading them.

Adjusting schedules and priorities seems to be a continual thing throughout life, at least for me.

I did that two, when mine were young -- they had to spend some quiet times in their room in the afternoon even if they didn't go to sleep. I'm a more quiet, introverted person, too, and needed that oasis in the middle of the day for my own sanity. :-D

Diary of an Autodidact said...

I have a day job, but also a spouse who is a reader. We put twin reading lamps above our bed so we can read together. (Separate books though...) I figure right after the kids go to bed is a good time for me (also NOT a morning person) to unwind for an hour or so. It definitely beats what is on TV these days.

Jennifer said...

A very nice, thoughtful post. It is ever difficult for me to set aside time for reading. I'd like to make a promise to myself to read one chapter a day, but with school it is like stacking reading upon reading. I'll see what I can do, though. And with such little reading time, the question of whether or not what I am reading is useful and edifying is ever-present. That's a good thing, I think.

Sherry said...

I admire you, but I don't think I want to do the time management/self-discipline thing right now in my life. And that's probably not OK. But it is where I am.

A Faithful Journey said...

Great, thought provoking post! Got my brain churning! :) My struggle with time management is being more disciplined in quiet times for my kids. They are 4 and 2 so truly still need it, but don't want it! LOL! I need to put into practice more of a routine to sit in their room, quietly, and look through books, color, or play quietly with the toys in their rooms. My youngest really should be taking naps still, but that is a struggle in and of itself! With baby #3 on the way, this is really something I need to be working today! :) Thank you for the urge to do so!

Shonya said...

I'm so far behind on reading my favorite blogs!! But I love this post--it is challenging me to be more "scheduled" in both my reading and blogging. My times tend to be naptime and after the kiddos go to bed too, but I have to confess to reading other people's blogs in between math problems or while waiting on a science experiment, etc., which is not good. . .

And I LOVE that you also don't like to talk on the phone. I realized my bad attitude to the phone ringing when my 4yod moaned "whyyyyyyyy? why do people call me??!!" when the phone rang the other day. giggle Guess I need to control myself! :)

Carrie said...

Shonya - ROFL!!!!!!

Laura S Reading said...

Before the last round of holidays I was trying to win gifts for people. That meant following a lot of GFC pages and liking a ton of facebook pages. It also means a lot of cleaning and clearing those lists thrhoughout the new year. I just can not follow/read (nor do I want to) everyone.
Unfortunately for New Years I did it again with G+ pages.

When my kids were little I found time to craft and read. Now I am an old lady time gets away from me. We all need that structure and awareness of the passage of time to use it to our best advantage.

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