Time to read

Reading means different things to different people. But regardless of that, it is often difficult for people to find time to read. 

There are so many suggestions on the internet on how to carve out some time for reading. The most popular ones are reading during commute, before bed, or immediately after waking up. Whereas I believe that some of these advice are useful, they are missing something very essential. The time for reading shouldn’t be found but rather created.

The moment we think about reading as highly necessary and unwise to leave out rather than as something we ought to do more often, the higher its priority is going to be on your daily schedule. The question then becomes not whether we should read or not, but when.

We are living in the knowledge society. In fact, we have been doing so for almost half a century. And knowledge, more than ever, is playing a larger part in our life.

It is well known that the most successful, and also the most busy people on the plant are avid readers. Nevertheless the most stated obstacle for not reading more is that there is not time because of work. But lets think a little bit about that.

Companies spend annually billions of dollars  for training and development. This can take the form of training courses, tuition reimbursement, workshops, and online education.

However they might be missing out a great approach that can develop their employees without much expenses, or at least not as much as training programs: allocating time for employees to read.

It doesn’t have to be hours. It can be something like half an hour daily or one hour each week to read something that can help employees in their work and inspire them to come up with solutions for their problems.

Of course, establishing such time has its difficulties. There are all kind of organisational policies that have to be adjusted. Also, companies might not be in favour of this idea because it is difficult to control the process. Will employees indeed be reading what is useful to their work, or will they be do something entirely different?

But here is why this could make sense for both employees and employers.

For starters, it is difficult anyway to control employees and what they do during work. In fact, doing it would be very cumbersome for management and restrictive to employees. Successful companies focus rather on results, and give employees the freedom to do what they think is suitable to achieve these results. Therefore, in successful companies employees already might be reading books during work time. Why not in other companies?

Furthermore, most employees, although being very busy, still have time to browse the internet not only for checking facts, but also for reading articles that are relevant to their work. If they are already reading articles, why shouldn’t they read books? Articles provide information in a condensed and summarised way, but books have the advantage of discussing issues in a deeper and more coherent way. And I think both types of knowledge are required for success at work. So why focus on the first type and ignore the second type?

There are also many employers to tolerate the fact that some of their employees are engaged in continuous studies and use some work time to study. The logic behind this is that providing employees support during their studies will benefit the organisation. It will make the employees happier and at the time the knowledge and skills gained from the studies might have a positive impact on the organisation on the long term. So why not apply the same logic on a smaller scale with books?

Last but not least, employees are not always payed overtime, yet they keep doing it, sometimes everyday. Going home to read a book might not be an option because when you are home, family or your mental mode don’t allow you to do something related to work. However if you allocate half an hour from the unpaid overtime you are already doing voluntarily to read, then you might be able to benefit twice. Once from the knowledge you gain, but also from building down the tension from work while you are still at the office. Reading is known to relax and your mood might improve before you arrive home.   

The discussion above was of course about the situation where people are working for an organisation. The goal was to point out for both employees and employers the benefits of giving employees some time during work hours to read books, if they wanted to. However I didn’t mention people who are self-employed or own an organisation.

I think those people need reading even more, because there is no boss telling them what to do. They are the ones who have complete control over their personal future, and that of their organisations. These people need solutions and more information about the problems they are facing.

Therefore, reading for those people is especially vital. They can carve out half and hour to read from their work time without any questions asked, and without the need to feel guilty about it, if the intention is to improve and not to shirk.

That said, I think that reading during work shouldn’t be a privilege for managers and owners only, but a right for each employee.

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