Reading at Home – How to self-motivate

Our Account Manager, Cillian Morgan, shares his tips on how to motivate yourself to read at home during a lockdown.

With the structure of the working day having changed so fundamentally (for those in a school community especially), I’ve found a marked change in the pace and rhythm of time. Pretty much everything has come to an abrupt halt in the wider world, and because there is no economic, social, political or any other real ‘progress’ being made (save for environmental and medical…!), it feels as though the world’s clock has been paused.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve found an ever-growing reliance on my most trusty form of escapism: reading. (Needless to say this reading at home doesn’t include current events, a type of reading which can very easily send me down a dark and lonesome road.) The problem I have right now is gathering up enough motivation on a day-to-day basis to even open a book in the first place, what with all that’s been going on. Many people reading this will also be taking care of children at home, and while I can’t speak to that challenge personally, I completely understand how your time must be even more skewed and warped and changed. So, before offering you 5 Book Recommendations, I thought it more prudent to first offer tips on how to self-motivate for reading at home. Starting with:

1) A Good Old Twitter Shut-down

A classic, tried-and-tested go-to for motivation. For me, there’s nothing that gets in the way of committing to (or starting) a book more than the constant inundation of messages from my phone. Having intended to type out one last retort, just one more post, I’m inevitably sucked into an Instagram or Twitter time-vortex lasting an hour or more. If you’d like to do more book reading, a good strategy is – maybe obviously – to do less social media reading. I usually message whoever I need to message, ‘like’ whatever cat picture I want to ‘like’, and then leave my phone in a different room for a minimum of 10 mins.

2) Tidy up your reading space

Creating or clearing physical space does wonders for clearing the mind in equal measure. Tidy up your reading space, whether that’s one chair in the corner, a whole room, or the cupboard under the stairs, and relish the freedom that that newfound space gives your mind as you turn, hands shaking with anticipation, to page 1.

3) Read after your daily walk / exercise

Another barrier to sitting down to read for me is feeling guilty for having been sitting down the entire morning already. “I’ve been sitting down since 9am, I’m not going to fire up a book at 2pm, I need to get out of here!” is what I usually scream at my flatmates around lunchtime every day. Going for a walk or doing some exercise (limiting yourself to one a day, thank you) clears up space in the mind much like the tidying-up does, but with some added endorphins and self-congratulatory feelings dancing around your head. What better way to rest those weary feet than with a well-earned sit-down, a cup of whatever, and that book you just bought in a bulk buy?

4) Commit yourself to only 5 minutes of reading a day

This will be the biggest and sharpest weapon in your reading arsenal, especially if you’re not a habitual reader. Opening a book can often seem like a daunting task. Many people, myself included, view it more and more as something that can only be done on the weekend or when we have some “downtime”. This is why social media is so attractive to us: it’s incredibly accessible, now habitual, and doesn’t seem at all time-consuming in the moment. Reading a novel, on the other hand, seems to require a huge commitment of time, the right headspace, a quiet environment, and enough mental energy at the chosen moment to tackle even Chapter 1. I’m tired just thinking about it now.

But, this is nothing more than a fixed mindset which is not difficult to change. Start a countdown timer and decide that I’m only going to read this book for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, you can stop. Try doing this every day, or every second day, even if you don’t feel up to it at all in the moment. The goal with this is to remove the pressure of having to strap yourself in for a long reading session. Instead, all you have to do is read for 5 minutes, and if you’re not feeling it, then that’s fine: once that bell rings you’re free. What you’ll find, of course, is that sometimes you will be feeling it and will continue to read past the buzzer. On the days where you don’t quite have the energy or focus or mindset, then at least you’ve done 5 minutes, which is what you committed to anyway.

I hope these tips are helpful. They’ve been incredibly helpful for me when motivation has been lacking. If you’re keen to try these tips out with a belter, but are uninspired by your current selection, then be sure to check out my Top 5 Book Recommendations (for teachers!) here.


Account Manager Cillian reading at home