Reading is by far one of the smartest things you can do for personal growth, not just because it offers information, but also because it exposes you to multiple points of view. If the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics are right, though, we probably all could step up our reading game up a few notches.
Barely in the double digits
According to the BLS American Time Use Survey, released in June for this year, individuals ages 15 to 44 read for personal interest for an average of just 10 minutes or less per day. From there, time reading increases with age, with those in the 75 and over group averaging 51 minutes. The average time reading per day is roughly 16 minutes.
No, it's not that we're too busy
On one hand, the survey results make tons of sense just from the standpoint that most individuals end up having more leisure time for reading or other activities later in life. Responsibilities like taking care of children decrease, for example, and retirement eventually hits. But the results also seem to indicate that, as much as we might lament that there's not enough time for books, the small amount of reading time from Millennials and other generations is a choice.
As you might guess, television is the biggest time sucker when it comes to leisure activities--the general average over all age groups is 2.8 hours a day. Even though people ages 15 to 44 actually watch the least amount of television (seniors have the most at over four hours a day), we still average around two hours.
From there, over all age groups, our priorities fall into the order of
- socializing (33.3 minutes each weekday)
- playing computer games or general computer use (about 31.7 minutes each weekday day)
- other leisure and sports activities, including travel (about 24.5 minutes each weekday)
- relaxing/thinking (about 21.9 minutes each weekday)
- sports, exercise and recreation (16.65 minutes each weekday)
How to get in more reading
The numbers above show that the simplest way to get more time for reading or other healthy activities is just to unplug. A typical young adult could have about two and a half "extra" hours if they gave up screens for entertainment (2 hours TV, 31 minutes computer). Even if you redistribute half of that to other critical time like thinking and spending time with people, you'd still have 75 minutes every day to curl up with your favorite texts. And if the idea of cutting out screens cold turkey makes you shudder, don't worry. Even if you do take half that 75 minutes for a show or some Facebook time, you'd more than triple the time most young people read and more than double the overall reading average.
If you unplug and still crave more pages, you might be able to squeeze a few extra ones in just by carrying some reading material with you at work. Read at lunch or on your breaks, on your subway commute or even for a minute or two as people shuffle into a meeting.
Lastly, while you might not connect organization and delegation to reading time, make sure that your home is well organized and that everybody's carrying their fair share of responsibilities. Nobody's place is going to be spotless or run like clockwork 100 percent of the time, but the better prepared you are, the less stressed and more productive you'll probably be, which probably could translate to more free opportunities for reading.
As you try to get more reading in, just remember, ultimately, it doesn't matter what you read. Just read something. Anything. Every minute, every word, counts.