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Culture & Religion

Distraction Steals Our Reading Time, Not Our Busy Lives

Developing repeatable reading habits will allow you to block out the distracting noise of the outside world and focus more intently on your calming activity.

Most people who say they don’t have enough time to read for fun are wrong. Of course this isn’t the case for everybody, but for the most part there’s plenty of time to read. What’s lacking is a suitable amount of clarity of mind to filter out noise from the outside world. That’s the determination of The Guardian’s Oliver Burkeman in a piece that went up earlier today. We seek out calm activities to free ourselves from communication. Unfortunately, communication has a way of butting into our free time:

“Sit down to read and the flywheel of work-related thoughts keeps spinning — or else you’re so exhausted that a challenging book’s the last thing you need. The modern mind, [novelist and critic Tim] Parks writes, ‘is overwhelmingly inclined toward communication. … It is not simply that one is interrupted; it is that one is actually inclined to interruption.'”

Think about how many times you’ve sought out to perform some task only to become distracted by your phone, an e-mail, social media, internal worries about work, or some other 21st century digital malady. It’s not enough to simply make time to read. It’s the quality of that time that counts. It’s the amount of freedom you can achieve away from interruption.

How do we reach the appropriate levels of freedom? Burkeman suggests ritualizing reading (or whatever activity you prefer — it could be knitting or crafting or something similar). Set a scheduled time every week which you will set aside for your calming activity. The first few weeks may be a struggle, but eventually the formation of a new habit will allow you to stifle outside distractions and find a place of peace.

Below, author and Big Think expert Gretchen Rubin discusses how habits form:

Habits Are Decisions You Only Need to Make Once, with Gretchen

Read more at The Guardian.

Photo credit: LoloStock / Shutterstock


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