A Post from Deb J ~ Reading Too Much

Deb J

Deb J

I have discovered something about myself.  I read too much.  Yes, I really said that.  I definitely read too much.  I love to read and I am a very fast reader.  I read 2-3 books in an evening depending upon the length of the book.  I was pretty happy with the decluttering I have done over the years.  I used to have an extensive library.  I once sold enough books to pay for one semester of college.  While I never accumulated that many books again, I did have a bunch of books that I decluttered over the last few years.  Then I started using a Kindle and had over 1000 books on it.  I decluttered many of those and am decluttering more.  With all that, you would think I would be very happy with where things are today.  Then I realized I’m not happy at where I am.

I discovered I read too much.  How can I say that?  I have acquired the habit of reading the entire evening and into the early morning each day.  I need the relaxation and rest of being in my recliner.  It makes me able to go to bed and actually sleep because it helps my body have less pain.  I also like to have the quiet time once Mom is gone to bed and thus the reading into the early morning.  Unfortunately, reading so late is not good for my body and especially it is not good for my diabetes because it means I don’t have a good schedule like diabetes requires. 

What does this have to do with decluttering?  Sometimes decluttering requires ridding ourselves of more than “things”.  Decluttering often means ridding ourselves of or changing habits or people or even jobs.  It means being intentional about how we spend our time.  I have not been intentional enough lately. 

Moni, suggested I should set a time to go to bed and announce it to my mother.  I should also then go to my room and not let her interrupt my “quiet” time.  I can then read some more if I want.  I am going to take it a step further.  I am going to be pickier about the books I put on my Kindle.  I am going to set the standard that I will only read one book an evening.  When I go to my room at 10, the time there will be used to read my Bible and pray more or to journal.  I need to spend time with the Lord listening to what he has to say and dialoging with him in a journal.  And I will not stay up past midnight.  I will also continue to declutter my Kindle until the only books left are the ones I really like and will read again. 

For me, reading so much has become a way to passively deal with things I don’t like in my life.  It is not a good way to do this. 

Do you have any habits that are cluttering your life?

Colleen’s 10c worth

I have often wondered about this in relation to all my blog readers who are avid readers. Not being much of a reader myself it is easy to form the opinion that reading can consume an awful lot of a person’s time that might be better spent doing less pleasant things they are avoiding.

I will be the first to insist that everyone is entitled to a certain amount of downtime in their day. We all need relaxation time in which to wind down and rest mentally and physically. However sometimes it is also good to do the math on how much downtime we are weaving into our day. Also trying to mentally relax while knowing that there are chores you have left undone, leaving your home unpleasant, can be counterproductive to rejuvenation. And never discount the the tranquility of mind that comes from knowing you have achieved something extra in your day. Especially an extra that can be a permanent fixture. Who among you has later interrupted your downtime to return to that drawer or shelf, you earlier uncluttered and reorganised, just to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment again. I know I have, sometimes more than once.

Today’s Mini Mission

Find something in your closet that you haven’t used for three months and let it go.


Continue reading with these posts:

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  • Slaying the “PROCRASTINATION” dragon ” By Jackie Do you have trouble with procrastination? Is “later” always the perfect time to do something? Are you stressed, missing deadlines, and constantly playing catch-up? Well…..hello! It’s so […]
  • Intentional Living by Deb J In my last post I talked about how I had been reading too much and needing to be more intentional with my reading.  This post I want to talk about being intentional about what we do so […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.

Comments

  1. Wow, Deb J – 2 to 3 books in an evening!!!
    I consider myself a rather fast reader myself (I’m faster than most others I know), but I am far from that speed!!

    I think that it is quite common in people to fill their completely free time (downtime) with some for them go-to-activities without really considering if these activities are good for them in that amount. For some it might be watching TV and staying up too late or neglecting chores doing so, for others it might be the internet, talking endlessly on the phone or other things. For you it seems to be reading. I think it is good to identify our “addictive” time consumers and try to get our habits back to what’s really good for us. So I hope you get your reading back to an amount and schedule that it enriches your life rather than draining energy out of it! Good luck!

    • Sanna, i like your statement, “I think that it is quite common in people to fill their completely free time (downtime) with some for them go-to-activities without really considering if these activities are good for them in that amount.”

  2. Like you I read a lot…but only a book a day. I love having a kindle so I don’t have the physical clutter to deal with. Every month I go in and permanently delete 30+books. I only keep what I think I’ll reread, or I’ll use for reference or books I consider 5 star.

    What I finally had to do was restrict my reading to when it’s dark so I can’t do yard work or it’s raining or snowing that makes being outside difficult. I also had to set a bed time so I wouldn’t read all night. It took awhile for these to become part of my daily life, but slowly & surely they did.

    Good luck Deb J, & thanks for bringing this issue up. I thought I was the only one struggling with it. Lol

    • Calla, isn’t it nice to know that there are other fellow strugglers out there? I am finding it hard to stick to my plans. I’m really having to dig to find the “oomph” to do it.

    • I am amazed with both of you and Sanna. A book a day is amazing enough but three a night, WOW!
      I am curious about how long it takes you Calla to read one book, in actual reading hours. And how many pages that amounts to.

      • I read about 4 hours a day…sometimes 5 if it’s a longer book. Usually 8 pm to midnight or 1 am
        The books I read are usually 300 -500 pages. I try & mix it up with my light reading, with at least one financial and one history book (usually early American history)and one downsizing or clutter free book a month. That how I justify reading so much….I tell myself i’m learning stuff too! Lol

        • I am simply amazed at all you fast avid readers. I have always been a slow reader. It would take be at least a week to read a 500 page book even at 4 hours a day. And maybe not even then. Can’t say I have ever timed myself but I am such a doing person that it is a challenge to get me to sit still for four hours a day. So you can imagine what sort of effort I put in writing my blog and reading through and responding to as many comments as I get.

          • Most times being a fast reader is an asset I am thankful for. It was a big help in high school and college. Great for tests too. But it can be a problem when it comes to the amount of books it takes to have something new to read. When all we had was books on paper, my book budget was too much. Our library couldn’t keep ahead of me. I don’t know how I read so fast. I never took a class to be able to do it. I have just always done it.

          • Colleen, there is no need to sit still while reading. 😉 Lately I read a lot in the train, at my station I usually stop the reading and concentrate on the walking, but since my books are really good, I began to read while walking. I stop exactly at the door of my office.
            The nice side effect: I dont notice the sometimes stressing amount of people around me anymore.

          • Hi Lena, reading while walking to ignore the ignorance of how some people think they own the footpath or at best don’t consider the other people they are sharing it with, does sound appealing.

  3. Wow Deb J, I am impressed. I consider myself a quick reader, and I am known for sometimes reading a book in one go, in a couple of hours. But I never would read more than one book in a day.

    It is like with any other thing: once you experience negative consequences from your doing, you should reconsider and change something… it doesnt matter if it is watching tv, reading, cleaning, doing sports or whatever it is, that people do for the fun of it. once you do something so frequent or obsessive or too much, it can bring you harm. if you dont watch out, it can then grow into a proper addiction or OCD.

    I am struggling with a similar thing, which is reading online. I can have my laptop on my lap and read for hours and hours. usually just like you – until late at night before I should sleep. My cure for that is – ironically – reading books. Simply because I fall asleep when I read a book. and I stress the point that it needs to be a proper book, ink on paper. I am sure, this wouldnt work with a kindle. at least it doesnt work with my iPad… somehow staring in a screen keeps me awake.

    come to think of it. when I was a teenager, I WAS reading more than one book a day. I spent all my pocket money on books, and a good chunk of my time with my nose hidden. I was basically just fleeing from the real world into the world of books. I mean I had friends and I was out a lot, but I also read always a book. I still do and I usually carry a book with me.

    • Lena, I have had the issue with reading online too but I seem to be worse about reading books on my tablet or paper & ink books. I have always been a reader and I only now realizing I need to be less addicted to it.

    • Lena – iPads, smart phones, computer monitors and tv screens all emit something called blue light which disrupts the body’s production of natural melotonin ie the sleep hormone, the one that says the sun is up = wake up, the sun is down = sleep. The thing I like about Kobo e-reader is that it has an e-ink screen which is like looking at a printed page. A friend of mine who is a firm iPad reader says she changes her screen light setting to sepia at night.

      Wherever there is a problem, there is a human thinking of a way around it.

      • ahhhh, thanks Moni… I like scientific explanations to something I experience. I will for sure change the light to sepia and try that, but I think I keep on reading normal books anyway.

    • I am pleased you suggested the idea of reading prolifically with the purpose of fleeing from the real world. I often wonder who many avid readers are doing just that.

      • Colleen – I don’t intend to sound controversial, but I feel recreational readers are taking a bit of a rap here. I often feel scrap-bookers, crafters avid tv viewers and ?? are in the same league.

        • I would agree with the TV viewing as it is basically living in a different world just like reading but crafting might me a stretch. Although it can certainly be just as time consuming and a diversion tactic to avoid other more unpleasant tasks such as housecleaning etc. I have to admit I can get a little sidetracked with card making although only since it has become more than just a hobby.

        • Moni, I think anything can be taken to the extreme but I also think that many things are just hobbies and a fun way to express ourselves. Reading, TV watching, crafts, etc. are not something bad unless they become something we do too much of to the detriment of our families, work, faith, and/or household needs. I know that in my case both my reading and my scrapbook supply buying became something that was a detriment to the rest of my life. My reading is keeping me from getting the amount of rest my body needs and I sometimes now use it as a way to escape which I feel is not good for me. My scrapbook supply buying was way over the top. When I think of the amount of supplies I gave away or sold for pennies of their worth I cringe because of other more important places that money could have gone. None of this necessarly hold true for others. My post was an example of how we can sometimes let things get out of control without thinking about it and why it is alway good to evaluate whoat we do and buy on a regulare basis.

      • I guess some avid readers may be fleeing from the real world. For me and many others it is just because we love the written word and we like learning. For every book I read I find something new and interesting that I didn’t know before. I love to learn.

        • here too, Deb J… I read a lot scientific, historical, political or psychological material, just because I want to know about that theme. Right know I have a magazine that is explaning a lot about Israel and its history, a huge novel about psychology, a magaszine about sport and physical exercise (from a medical perspective) and a very funny novel (light reading at night for falling asleep). learning has and always will be important for me.

          For me it has something to do with the Input and the Output. Input is watching movies, Output is digesting what you heard/saw/experienced. Things like crafting, sports, doing puzzles, writing, etc. is clearly Output. Watching TV, movies, series, listening to music, audio books, reading “learning material” is Input.
          However, reading novels is something in between for me. I get a story from the written word, but my fantasy is also part of that story. It is something different to let your brain do the filming and drawing instead of just absorbing someone elses product.

          • Lena, you sound a lot like me. I want to know about things not just bypass something I hear about. Plus, I read very little of the “light” variety and am into the suspense kinds like psychological, scientific, etc. With my background in knowledge management in the computer world there are a lot of books out there that grab my attention in that realm.

  4. Deb J, I guess all us book lovers have some sort of problem!!!! I would LOVE it if I could read all I wanted to or as fast as you!!!! I don’t have time to sit down and read for long periods of time, but I wish I did! Ha! I tend to read too long into the night also, because that is the only time I have to do it and it keeps me in night owl mode. My problem is that I read a lot of reference books—– mostly health or Christian related. As I read, I underline in bold red the things I might want to reference in the future and write in the margin up top what the subject is. It makes it very easy to go back at a later date and find information. This leads to the problem of wanting to keep the book forever for the information. I may not reference them often, but invariably, I DO use them. I also have things such as survival information, and “eating the weeds” type books because those are main interests. I read very little fiction and don’t have a kindle or anything. Those books I have no problem passing on or trading in. However, although my book stash is contained (nothing lurking under beds or such), I still have more books than I’d like to keep. I have been through them twice and I can no longer find any to discard. I start reading all the great info I have underlined and it goes right back on the shelf. So, I guess I am saving books till the last thing to be scaled down.

    Some people say they can find any info they need on the Internet, but I find it much easier to go back to a book I am familiar with. Some I have used for 40 years! Eventually, I will try really hard to let some of them go, but for now the ones I have are staying.

    I think for yourself, it would be helpful to determine what time you need to be asleep for health’s sake. Stop reading your books/kindle a good while beforehand. Then do your Bible reading last to calm your soul and spend that last bit of time praying before sleep. I’m sure you already know you can read the Bible through in a year reading 3 chapters a day during the week and 5 chapters on weekend days. As fast as you read, you could do that twice a year!!!! Wow!!! What a powerhouse you could be, hiding that much Word in your heart!!!!

    I understand your reading after your Mom goes to bed, as I wait till hubby is in bed for the quiet time! I don’t watch TV at all and can’t stand the noise. This is one reason why I wind up staying up so late, too.

    I will pray for your success in your new endeavor to get into balance with your reading!

    • Brenda, I know how you can get to where you underline. I used to do that too. I still do occasionally. I used to keep copious notes too. I have found though that for me I seldom referred back to those books. I have an few books that I will always hold onto because they are the type that I feel the need to read again from time to time to remind me of the truths they contain. But I am learning to let go of most and remember that they can always be found again if need be at the library or from an online library source.

  5. What an interesting post Deb J. I love reading too, but I can’t imagine getting through so many books so quickly. Apart from anything else these days I just can’t stay awake long enough to read much at night, although I wish I could because these days I don’t read much during the day – afraid of falling asleep! and also I probably need reading glasses. As for habits that are cluttering my life, I know I have those, and I think the biggest one is spending too long on the computer. I have thought about setting a timer as I am always amazed at how quickly time disappears when I am absorbed by my screen.

    • Oh my! I know what you mean about spending too much time on the computer. I could do that easily. I have made myself set a time limit.

  6. Reading is my favourite recreation. I’m also a fast reader which is why from a young age I got enjoyment out of re-reading my favourite books. Yes I ended up with thousands of books but I have an e-reader now and consider it the greatest invention since sliced bread, apart from the digital camera, iPod and Automatic transmission cars. And smartphones.

    I use reading to slow my brain down after a busy day and all the he-said-she-said-they-said-we-said that goes on in a household of four teenagers. Its my variation of cavemen staring at fire at the end of the day. Could I be doing something more productive? Yes but that would fire up all the neurons and synapses in my brain again. And I have it on good authority that my family prefers me not to start household projects in the evening or no one is getting any peace until it done.

    • Hi Moni, after reading you comments over the years I am sure that by the time the evening comes you have probably done twice as much as most other human beings anyway. So I think you are entitled to sit down and chill out for a while.

    • Moni, I know what you mean. That is one reason why I read every evening. Oh I am sure we all could have things that we could be doing but we also need the down time. My issue is that I am taking it to extremes and can even stay up all night reading. Not good with all my health issues.

  7. Speaking about books, Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston is in my hall of fame books. Karen suggests we look at “downtime” as “uptime”. I agree. What this all comes down to is balance. Each individual knows instinctively when we have tipped the scales of balance in our lives. Sometimes it is an easy fix, sometimes not so easy, especially when we have been brought up to view “me” time with guilt attached. To be honest, I think we women need to take a clue from the men in our lives. They seem to view downtime/uptime as “I deserve it” with no guilt attached.

    • Kimberley, it took us years to make Mom realize that she could sit down and read or do a craft and it was OK. Talk about living with a “guilty voice” talking to her! She still goes way too much and thinks certain things have to be done when the only person who thinks that is her.

  8. I’m going a little bit off topic here. I have a toasted sandwich maker which I got for my engagement 22 years ago. Its the kind that Colleen might know as a ‘jaffles’? The edges of the bread and a diagonal line thru the bread kind of end up welded shut. We have a girl boarding with us who goes to the local Polytechnic with my older daughter, and she brought with her her George Foreman sandwich press or grill or some such thing. So toasted sandwichs are a bit more like the ones in the cafes with open edges. Everyone in the house seems to prefer using that and told me they don’t like my ‘old fashioned’ toastie maker. It doesn’t bother me. Should I get rid of my old fashioned toastie maker and when our boarder moves on, buy one like hers or just let it hang out in the cupboard?

    • Moni, maybe your family should pitch in, cost-wise, for the new kind since they are the ones who prefer it! I am surprised yours lasted as long as it has. We burned ours out in a few years, and are working on a newer one now 🙂

    • Hi Moni, I had the old style like you have ~ and I do know it as a jaffle iron ~ when I returned from America. It had been unused for so long it no longer worked so ended up in the trash. I didn’t replace it for a long while but then one day a panini press came into the thrift shop and I bought it for $5. It is so much more versatile. I use it to cook pancakes on, roti bread for when we have curry, it is great for cook both sides of french toast at the same time, pikelets and, of course, toasted sandwiches.
      My daughter however like the style you have she likes all the crunchy corners that the old jaffle iron creates when cooking a toasted sandwich.

    • Moni, I would get rid of the old one and get the one everyone likes.

  9. Deb J, I have been thinking about my own reading habits for some time now. I read more than I should, and especially later than I should, too. It has more to do with lack of energy than anything else for me. The rest of my day is busy and I am not a person of high energy to start with. But once I start reading it’s hard to stop. I need to find a better balance, too. Good luck to us both!

    • Jo H, like you I have very little energy and what I have is gone by the end of the afternoon. So for me reading is what I do in the evening because anything else takes too much energy. Yes, good luck to us both.

  10. The Other Christine :

    I’m also an avid reader, though I don’t put as much time in every day as some of the other commenters. I’ve noticed that with all my downtime activities including reading, browsing the internet, and watching TV that I do a lot of it just for the sake of having something to do. Some of the books, shows and websites I really love, and I get a lot of value out of them, but it’s less than half, maybe even less than a quarter. I’ve been trying to question my downtime activities and avoid the time-fillers. I want to spend that downtime on things that have high value for me.

    • The Other Christine, this statement of yours is good. “I’ve been trying to question my downtime activities and avoid the time-fillers. I want to spend that downtime on things that have high value for me.”

  11. Hi, Deb J. Your post really resonates with me as I. LOVE. READING.

    I began reading at a very early age and it has brought me tremendous joy while educating me at the same time. I totally get what you mean when you say that you love words and learning.

    I am amazed by your reading speed and shall describe myself as a moderately fast reader, by comparison. 🙂

    Thank you for the reminders that even something that’s beneficial can be detrimental if taken to the extreme and to be “intentional about how we spend our time”. I hope you attain the “golden mean” that you are looking for.

    • Nicole V, thanks for hoping I attain the “golden mean.” Glad I was able to give you a reminder. Since reading is my favorite thing to do I have to hold myself accountable.

  12. Hello Deb, your post ‘spoke to my condition’ as well…. I’m also blessed with the ability to read fast, though since having children it’s rare that I can squeeze in the time to read more than one book in an evening, and I have no chance in the days…. you made me think, as although I see my online addiction as something which needs to be kept under control (and isn’t, always), I’ve been reading since as long as I can remember – there are pictures of me aged 4 with my nose buried in a book, and I haven’t stopped since – but I can see that it isn’t always particularly good use of time. Thank you for the food for thought 🙂

  13. Wow Deb…amazing! I’m not a fast reader, I like to savour the sentences carefully and I like to slow down towards the end of the book because I don’t want it to finish (if I liked it, of course!). I always try do squeeze some time to read every day, but I also do other things I enjoy as much as reading. Honestly (I hope Deb and all the others don’t get offended) it seems to me that this eccessive and fast reading is some sort of compulsive habit, like a “drug” for the brain…I know that sometimes I can’t stop reading, even if I’m tired and sleepy and it’s way past midnight: I just can’t close the book, and it feels like I’m not able to decide to stop because if I stop I won’t sleep so I go on and on…
    Maybe you should try to slow down a little, to “detoxify” your brain, like a smoker who decides to quit, day by day.

    • yliharma, I have tried to slow down. It seems my brain reads lines or paragraphs not word for word. Or something. I’m not sure. I just know that when I try to slow down it doesn’t happen very well. I also remember most of what I read. That means I do well on tests, can’t reread a book unless it is one I really enjoy, and can spew out all sorts of “knowledge” if I choose. As for reading being a “drug” for the brain, I agree it can be that sometimes. For me, it just seems to be a way to recoup some energy and calm my brain and body before going to sleep. But like you, I will get caught up in a book and the next thing I know it is 3 in the morning. I’m thinking of setting an alarm on my tablet so that I will no longer do this. Too bad they don’t make a way to automatically turn it off at a time I set. Grin.

    • Yliharm and Deb J – Deb J’s explanation of how she reads is exactly how I read. I taught myself to read around age 3-4 and read above my age right thru school. I look at it as being similar to some people are naturally good runners and can train to be higher level athletes and marathon runners. I could get fit but I’m too short to have been a runner of any note, besides which I don’t like running and even if I was fit enough to run a marathon, I’d be the person veering off the course at the first Starbucks.

      So reading is my talent. When I met my biological family I discovered that they too are speed readers.

      So I don’t think it is excessive or a drug any more than any other recreation is.