Who Has Time to Even Read?

I spent a lot of time thinking about how to title this piece. The fact is that I want to ask you to read something.

It’s hard not to feel defeated before I begin. There are so many pulls on your attention, like a line at a stadium bathroom.

So I have a question. It’s going to sound ironic now that I’ve acknowledged that you probably don’t have an iota of time in your day. But it’s an important question:

What are you reading?

photo credit:  picsea/unsplash

photo credit: picsea/unsplash

I’m so excited about two new books that I’ve started (but not finished — more on that in a moment) that I'm dying to share what I'm learning. But first, I am really curious:

What is it that you are reading?

I don’t care if it’s great fiction, a trashy romance novel, or a comic book. Captain Underpants, maybe?

Actually, before you answer that, let’s step back for a second. Do you even get to read anymore? Do you have time to read?

“Dad, you do that know that books are dead, right?“ warned one of our kids, to whom I would later dedicate my 2015 book “Laugh More, Yell Less: A guide to raising kick-ass kids.“

And the funny thing is that they were the rare kind of kid that would actually sit down and read. In fact, they would regularly do something that I struggle to do: finish a book.

I used to beat myself up about starting and never finishing books. I always have a stack on my nightstand and a huge Kindle library. I tend to start a new book, move on, then come back to it when I’m curious again. I basically read far enough to get what I need.

One of my heroes, Seth Godin, shared his secret move when authors send him books to read and review. Seth says that treats these books the same way he views a piece of modern art. He reads until “he gets the joke,“ and then puts it down.

While writing this, I mentioned reading to a teacher friend who used the word “should“ five times in her response. “I don’t read but I SHOULD. It’s not like I don’t have the time. If I have time to watch TV, then I have time to read.”

Why do we feel so guilty about not reading?
Was it drilled into us in school?
Do we think we’re getting dumber?

Maybe it’s the universal sense that we’re managing our time badly. Maybe it's that damn bathroom line grumbling for our attention.

I may not have the biological or market-researched tools to compete for your attention. What I do have (and value!) is your trust. The relationship we have built together, between reader and writer, tells you that you will find value here. I am grateful that you believe that it is worth sharing some of your valuable time and attention to read these words.

This attention dilemma bounced around in my (also crowded) mind and then I attended my first Caveday, my friend Jake Kahana’s project, which was frankly mind-blowing (email me for details).

So I created a solution, mixing my Caveday experience with my expertise in Executive Functioning and the personal work that I’ve done to make space for my superpower of creativity.

Two of the books I’m reading are “Deep Work” by Cal Newport and “Indistractable” by Nir Eyal. Both authors address the concern that we are dividing our attention and can never seem to block off our time to do deep, creative work.

I used all of these insights and more to develop “Become inDISTRACTable," a 3-week program to help early-career female-identifying professionals carve out the space to breathe, at least for longer than your phone notifications usually give you.

If you want to learn how you can manage your "line" and hold the rest of the world at bay so you can do some long-term planning and thoughtful decision-making, come join us for a Free Intro Talk to the upcoming program “Become inDISTRACTable.”

Learn how you can become inDISTRACTable at the next Free Intro Talk.

Robert Zeitlin