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I have 5 books in my "read-wish-list". When do I read them?

I mean I could force myself to use 1 hour during working hours, but this will last for 2 days then someone will ask me to do more "high priority things". One option can be reading at night, but also this has limits, even because I prefer to spend time with kids.

Could you please share your experiences?

A long term plan is needed of course, it makes no sense to read 5 books in a week, but to continuously read something. For this reason it must not be a stressful thing. It should be easy. It must not be a struggle to find time to read, but it should be done on a continuous regular basis.

Somehow this question can be similar to THIS ONE but I want to ask about books. How many if you read books at work for self improvement, not to tackle a specific task?

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closed as off topic by gnat, Walter, StuperUser, Robert Harvey, Ryathal Nov 2 '12 at 19:43

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Reconsider your priorities. If you currently don't have the time to read and you think it's important that you do, you'll have to give up time spent on other activities. I don't believe it is any more complicated than this. –  Diego Deberdt Jun 24 '11 at 18:26
I think that part of the challenge consists of finding the "right" books. I have lost a lot of time reading books that simply did not present the material in a way that was a good fit for what I actually needed. You do not have to be and cannot be an expert in everything. Sometimes a 250 page book is better than a 600 page book on the same subject. –  Diego Deberdt Jun 24 '11 at 18:49
Read at home during off-work hours. –  Gilles Nov 1 '12 at 16:19

11 Answers 11

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I think you need to protect some of your work time for reading. I work at a disorganization where tasks are frequently called "high priority", but that usually means they are letting me know about a project at the last minute. I think your office should want you to spend some time reading and improving your skills, so time should be available during your work hours. Otherwise, during lunch can be a good time. If the book concerns something more personal than work related, then you should set aside an hour a few nights a week to read.

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I choose this as answer since it matches my case best, but thanks to all for the comments! unfortunately I walk to office, I never have lunch alone. Anyway I will ask for official permission of reading books during work time. I am reading books that 100% deal with my work. –  user193655 Oct 14 '10 at 16:11
+1 for "working at a disorganisation". I'm stealing that! :) –  Bobby Tables Oct 15 '10 at 5:48

Here's my plan that's working out well:

  • Stop watching TV & Movies/DVDs. Started this a few years ago and watch around two movies a month. Lots of time freed up.
  • Stop reading about things that don't affect your daily life. For example, national news, world economics, sports, Reddit/Digg, etc. Substitute instead information sources directly relevant to your life (programming, hobbies, community, etc.) such as blogs and podcasts and Stack Exchange topics
  • Get into eBooks. Kindle, ORA Safari, etc.
  • Get yourself a good multimedia reader that handles eBooks plus your targeted information. Something like an Android phone or an iTouch that combines eReaders, RSS readers, podcast clients, etc.
  • Double-up on time. For example, read during lunch, watch podcasts or educational videos while working out, take the bus and read while commuting.

I've been extremely happy with these changes in my life. I'm better educated, I'm happier because I'm reading less about angst & catastrophe and more about progress and accomplishment. I have more time with my family and I lead a more active life physically and mentally.

Of course, you won't be able to discuss world events or TV episodes or movies with friends or at parties. But you said you were a programmer, so by definition you don't have friends or parties to worry about :-)

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Yes, good list. It could seem obvious, but I think everyone knows that in practice it isn't. –  user193655 Oct 18 '10 at 18:52
You can still read xkcd and talk about that at parties. Anyone who doesn't read xkcd isn't worth talking to anyway –  Martin Beckett Nov 1 '12 at 17:09

Time isn't found. Time is made.

In my case, I download my TV shows so that I can watch 2-3 of them, commercial free on a saturday night. This leaves time during the week, after dinner to let my food settle in my stomach, while I sit and read for an hour.

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+1. In my experience, "too busy" is just an excuse for not finding the time to do something. There's always time for everything no matter how busy you are. –  Terence Ponce Oct 14 '10 at 16:02
+1 when you understand you have the power to TAKE the time, your life is changed forever. –  user2567 Oct 14 '10 at 17:27
+1 for "time is made". I know what do you mean, I expereinced the same when I decided to take a piano degree. I was able to find the time. Of course I didn't get top mark, but it was for my personal satisfaction. And I found lot of time. And at that time I also "had no time". –  user193655 Oct 18 '10 at 18:51

Use Public Transports

Every day I have a 50 minutes trip by train to reach my company and 50 minutes to come home. Thats roughly 370 hours of reading every year.

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+1 I've found that I can easily read a book a week if I use public transport with a 1 hour commute. –  Sergio Acosta Oct 15 '10 at 3:52
That's pretty hard to pull off if you're reading a thick/heavy book and that's usually the case when it comes to technical books. –  Terence Ponce Oct 15 '10 at 4:43
I use commute time too. Even when walking. –  icelava Oct 15 '10 at 5:36
The side effect, for me, is nausea and motion sickness. –  user16764 Nov 1 '12 at 18:16

I read during lunch often. Also, I am prone to reading a chapter when there's a bit of run-time idling i.e., something's compiling or whatever.

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I picked up the "compiling trick" today! –  user193655 Oct 18 '10 at 18:52

I would rather the people in my team sit and a read a book for a while then produce better, code than write lots of worse code immediately. I have generally found that other parts of the business can't recognise what a busy programmer looks like. If you want to you can (and I think should) do research as a work activity. If you are in an organisation that doesn't understand that engineering involves research, and that is preventing you from doing it, then I would seriously consider what exactly the organisation is offering you.

You could try and make it part of your team's normal activities. Perhaps even set some time aside to disscuss if and how to integrate the new ideas and technologies into your products.

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Yes, I agree. Probably the organization shuold officially allow people to study. Nothing better than an employee that wants to improve. Of course the organization can fear the fact that this employee is studying just to get a better position... –  user193655 Oct 18 '10 at 12:17
At the very least the organization should be willing to buy the books. –  Dima Oct 26 '10 at 4:12

I read in the bath, during any meals where I'm on my own ( I tend to leave the house later than my wife and she doesn't have breakfast so a chapter over breakfast is a pretty standard thing ) and if it's something that I think of as professional development I'll often bring a book into work and read it while I'm compiling, waiting for software to run or waiting for windows to start.

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Time is in limited supply. Economics 101. You have to choose what's most important to you.

If after hours, spending time at the movies, watching football, on a date with your GF/Wife, kids... or learning to program with a new book.

All have worth... you have to decide what's worth more. If you can do it AT work while getting paid? Awesome... odds are you won't get 40 hours to read and digest a new book.

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yes but being constant pays more than a single "peak" and then nothing. I am now forcing myself to do at least 30 mintues of reading/trying out book examples. In the short term the productivity gets lower, but in the long not, because what I study I am sure it will return as investment. –  user193655 Oct 18 '10 at 12:18

Some programming books aren't amenable to this, but many are available in audio book format. I have a 1 hour (each way) commute to work and like to listen to programming audio books and pod-casts during my commute.

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there is pdf or kindle too –  user193655 Oct 18 '10 at 12:15

Hang a bookshelf in your bathroom.

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Yes this is a very smart advice. I am not joking at all. With kids around the house (and the desire to stay as much as possible with them) it is often difficult to find free time except for bathroom time. Unfortunately I optimized for speed all my methods that interact with the Bathroom object ;) –  user193655 Oct 27 '10 at 11:44
The side effect is hemmoroids, right? –  user16764 Nov 1 '12 at 18:16

I listen to the Pluralsight video courses on my way to work. Very helpful but you've got to pay for the more costly subscription so you can store the video modules on your device. It's not as good as watching the videos, but I get a surprising amount out of it and it always raises questions that I'm eager to look up when I get into the office.

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