Secrets of Adulthood #2: I'd Rather Read Than Waste Time

Oct 23, 2015

Secrets of Adulthood: I'd Rather Read Than Waste Time

It's been a couple of months since I shared my first Secret of Adulthood, and today I'm finally getting around to sharing another. For those of you who are new here, the term "Secrets of Adulthood" was coined by Gretchen Rubin in her book, The Happiness Project, and it simply refers to those bits of advice that make your life so much better when you adhere to them.

Today's Secret of Adulthood is one I thought up years ago, and it is this:

I'd rather read than waste time.

On the surface, it seems so obvious. Who actually sets out to waste time? But you'd be surprised how often my hand is poised over my phone or the computer when a little whisper inside my head reminds me, "I'd rather read than waste time."

Life is full of little 5-15-minute stretches that seem perfect for wasting time in: in the car waiting to pick up a child from school or soccer practice; rocking a baby to sleep; waiting for a child to get done with a task so you can help him with his homework; taking a moment for a quick break in the middle of the day; going to bed at night.

Each moment presents a choice: should I use this time to mindlessly scroll through Facebook or spend it doing something that I actually enjoy? Even the very act of stopping and asking that question usually makes it easier to choose the latter.

Although I've been repeating it to myself for over three years, it wasn't until I took my break that I saw the full benefits of it. When Instagram and Facebook and blogs were no longer an option, I almost always chose to read during those small gifts of time. I felt so happy about it. And I got through so many books.

Since the end of my break, I've tried really hard to not have my phone with me at all times. The result has been that I'm more present with my kids and more present with my books.

One of the keys, of course, to making sure this adage is easy to follow is to make sure that whatever you're reading is readily accessible. Luckily, I have that part of it down and always seem to have reading material scattered (I mean, placed strategically) around the house.

Now some of you might be thinking, That's a great little mantra, but I don't really love to read in my free time. First of all, if you're saying that, then I better break the news to you right now: This blog's probably not for you. But second, this tip can easily adapted to varying interests, like so:

I'd rather _______ than waste time.

See? You can fill that in with whatever floats your boat: knitting or drawing or cleaning or gardening (although all of those things would be hard to do if you're rocking a baby to sleep--that's why reading is probably the ultimate pastime (wink, wink)). Sometimes we think five minutes isn't really enough time to do anything in (except scroll through Facebook), but I'm telling you, most hobbies can be adapted for little chunks of time.

What do you think? Is this advice you already follow? And if so, how do you avoid those other tempting options? What's one Secret of Adulthood you like to tell yourself? 


  1. I love it! I'm not as good about this as you would think, and I'm going to try borrowing your "secret". I am good about using dead time to listen to audiobooks (folding laundry, etc.), but I think I could keep my book closer to hand for some of the other moments. Facebook on the phone is so easy...

  2. I thought this same thing just last night! But I'm definitely not great at keeping what I want to read nearby. I can't even tell you how many times I've thought, "oh, I want to read right now" but then my book has been left at home or out of reach. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Also, Amy, I wanted to tell you that I read Gretchen Rubin's Better than Before over the weekend, and got a lot out of it. I picked it up because of your multiple references to her work. So thank you!


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