A rantbox by Michiel Scholten

Reading challenge: a start

Stack of magazines, physical book and e-reader

I have a problem. I have too many hobbies.

Thankfully, that's actually a pretty good problem to have, and it is not even the actual issue. The matter at hand is the limited time in a typical day. This is nothing new, but it provides certain... challenges when wanting to optimise time spent on each of them, or even spending time on a certain thing at all.

Some of my favourite things to do are coding (no really!), preferably on projects that scratch an itch; watching series and movies, and playing computer games are high on my list of things that give me satisfaction and relaxation. Going on (brisk) walks and the occasional run or bike trip provide the necessary exercise and time for my brain to recuperate. These physical activities I already tend to regularly apply, especially when they are in the daily routine of moving somewhere, or a weekly sports appointment, like with badminton that I took up in 2022.

The time spent on the others though is more... fluid. This mostly boils down to the limited time I can spend on them throughout the day.

To provide some insight into the conundrum I'm trying to solve for myself:

  • weekday starts at 7 in the morning, waking up and getting dressed and such, getting the kids out of bed, making breakfast and making lunch for the kids to take to school. No free time is left between that, bringing the kids to school and getting myself to work; thankfully this is a moment for some short biking to the office or waking up walking in the park when working from home
  • day at work of course has breaks for getting refreshments and eating lunch. When at the office, we try to be social though, so no shutting ourselves in books (or phones too much)
  • returning home, or getting downstairs after work lands me in the routine of making and consuming dinner, after which the hour to need to bring the kids to bed approaches quickly (they turn in relatively early because - oh irony - they like to read in bed)
  • a few spare minutes might be available here, but it's also family time
  • bringing the kids to bed takes time (well spent, but still)
  • it is generally around 20:00h or even later now, and I am already starting to feel a bit sleepy
  • finally some me-time can commence, shortly interrupted by me visiting my son's bedroom to have him recount the day a bit so he can sleep
  • also, I have my wife to spend time with
  • ideally, I'll start going to bed at 22:00-22:30

In this later-on-the-evening-time, I will be doing administration for our household, the hosting association that I'm board member of; I'll be chatting with people online, reading the interwebs, listening to music, doing... stuff; oh and maybe play something? Watch something? Code a bit? Read something?

Especially the reading was a growing concern, as I have a pretty big list of great books to read, and the actual reading has been slowing down. As I love reading, I am actually a bit baffled by how my oldest and dearest hobby is on the decline so much.

I resolved to do something about it.

From today on I will read (at least) 30 minutes every day. Not counting articles on websites, RSS feeds or web comics which are still allowed for consumption of course, but are exempt from this allotted time. No, I challenge myself to read in my book(s) and/or the (scientific) magazines I have a subscription on.

Ways of making this work on days that time is extra tight:

  • take material to work and read 10-15 minutes during coffee break
  • break the habit of staying at the (home/real) office too long, finishing work instead of winding down the day
  • finish dinner early and cram in a bit of quality time with a book/magazine
  • making sure a book or magazine is always close by
  • read in bed, can be combined with going to bed earlier
  • stop bringing the kids to bed, read instead

The latter is not really an option, but some days I'm tempted ;)

I really am curious to how other people schedule their daily routine in such a way that they still are able to do what they love and like. Please let me know, I might draw some inspiration from it, and it might make for an interesting conversation.

I am not complaining, as my life is pretty nice - maybe a bit mundane. It's just that I am trying to find ways to do... more. More of the things to feast my brain on.

tl;dr need to download more free time, will allot 30 minutes per day to solid reading.

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