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Much has been written about the benefits of reading. Not skimming Facebook, Twitter links, or blog posts, but focused reading, especially books, or at least magazines that don’t feature a celebrity on the cover.

I am a reader. I average about three books a month on different topics. When I tell people this, invariably they lament how much they’d like to read but can’t find the time. That usually leads to the question, ‘How do you do it?” The answer: time can be found if you just look for it.

Ideally, you should schedule time to read (before bed, for example). But when that’s not possible, turn periods of down time into reading opportunities. Following are some that work for me. This does require that you always have a book handy. Digital versions are convenient (though I prefer the real thing in my hands). Regardless, having good reading material stashed within easy reach (on your desk, in your briefcase, in your car) is key. That way it’s readily available when you are…

Early for a meeting
Eating alone
Waiting for friends to arrive
In a doctor’s waiting room
Having your car serviced
At the DMV
Called for jury duty
Waiting in a parking lot
On a plane, train or bus
Waiting for a class to start
On hold with customer service
Our default these days to filling up short periods like those is to gaze at our smartphone. Instead, fill it with reading something that helps you grow personally or professionally, or simply take a breath. It’s a smart use of time.

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