Make Time for Reading

I love reading.

But this love didn’t start early. As a child, I loved writing, but reading really wasn’t my thing. Recently, I had an epiphany. When I was a child, I was pushed fiction books to read all the time. That’s about all we were given (other than textbooks, obviously) as kids in school.

There were never books about various interests, just “stories.” And while I enjoy reading the odd fiction book now, my  preferred genre is non-fiction. Whether it’s business, self-development, or my favourite, memoirs of those with interesting stories to tell, I love learning through reading.

Perhaps I didn’t enjoy reading as a child because I was never given the choice of what to read. That has all changed now, of course, and my love of reading, combined with my love of acting, has created a great opportunity to read to my children and use all the different voices and accents I can make up. This means I’ve been reading more children’s literature, as well as more fiction. 

Our family enjoys both fiction and nonfiction, and of all the things we left behind before we came on this trip, the most difficult to put into storage were our books. We did bring some books on the trip, however, as well as eReaders and a tablet for ease of book carrying.

While some would argue that listening to an audiobook isn’t “reading,” to me, it doesn’t matter. Yes, of course you should read print whenever possible, but just like tablets in education, there’s a time and a place for listening to audibooks.

Make time for reading, www.marianamcdougall.com, man wearing a hat sitting on a windowsill and reading, Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

For example, for children who don’t yet read, listening to audibooks (or a parent reading) helps them to develop a love for literature early on, and I would argue, even an interest in learning to read. For children who need to be in constant motion, audiobooks provide an opportunity to enjoy literature while still allowing for energy expenditure. And for those who are on the road, like us, audiobooks means being able to carry as many books as we like, and still have a chance to discover new and re-discover old literature.

On this trip so far, we’ve had lots of time to do reading, whether that be on our own, through audiobooks, or with me reading to the family while my husband drives. But what if you’re not on a road trip, and you simply don’t have the time to read? Make the time.

Reading is such an amazing activity, and has a tonne of benefits. It expands your knowledge, relaxes you, and builds your vocabulary, among other benefits. But in today’s rushed world, it’s hard to find the time to enjoy these benefits. Here are some simple ways to enjoy reading, even when you’re short on time.

1. Do it in short bursts

Even 5 minutes of reading a day will relax you and allow you to take a break from your busy life. Set aside 5 minutes of your lunch break or 5 minutes after a meal to read a page or two.

2. Put the phone down (unless you’ve got a eReader installed)

Stop scrolling through social media during your commute or when you’re bored, and replace that time with reading time. You can even use your phone for reading time if needed.

3. Make use of the tools available to you

If carrying a book is burdensome, use an eReader or even an eReader app on your phone. Reading is reading; use the tools available to you to read in the most convenient and efficient way for you. 

4. Multitask

Although multitasking has earned a bad rep in recent years, when it comes to reading, it might be worth a try. If you’re already fitting exercise into your day, why not add reading to you exercise? Here’s where audiobooks work wonderfully. Listen to a book as you run, cycle, or lift weights.

5. Remember to read what you like

I didn’t like reading as a kid because people constantly told me what to read. Now that I’m an adult, I pick books that interest me, and I enjoy reading so much. If you pick books you enjoy rather than the ones you think you “should read,” you’ll be much more successful in your quest for more reading time.

How do you fit reading into your day?

 

Seek to Serve: Improving Yourself by Helping Others

I love connecting people to resources, whether those resources are other people, information, or places. And whereas that looks helpful, the truth is, it could be seen as a pretty selfish thing to do. I help others because helping others makes me feel good. And we all like to feel good, don’t we? And making me feel good is not the only advantage of helping others. It turns out that it helps people remember who I am—and that’s pretty good for business.

I’ve met many people in my 36 years. Wonderful people, helpful people, people who are truly interested in helping others succeed. And I’ve also met people who will do anything to ensure they themselves are successful—including throwing others under the metaphorical bus to get ahead.

And in my experience, those people who’ll do anything to get ahead—including hurting others—get ahead in business, all right. But eventually, it all comes crashing down. They might be making a tonne of money, but they slowly lose friends, and end up alone and miserable. Money doesn’t bring happiness—though it sure makes life easier sometimes.

Seek to serve: improving yourself by helping others, www.marianamcdougall.com, several hands holding each other in background

I may not be rich in material goods, but collecting material stuff is not what I want out of life. I have what I need to live a good life: water, shelter, food, and friends and family that I enjoy spending time with—both in person and online. And to me, personally, that’s what life is all about: friends, family, and spending time with the people who bring you joy.

A long time ago, I adopted a “seek to serve” mentality. I’m always thinking about how I could help others, though I’ll be honest, on days when I’m having a lot of pain, that’s hard. And sometimes, it’s OK to “take a day off” from being super nice. I’m not mean to people when I’m having flare-ups, but I make sure I’m taking time away from people when I need to concentrate on self-care. But on any other day, I do what I need to do to take care of myself, while also looking to help others. 

The “seek to serve” mentality has served me well over the years. I use this mantra because it makes me feel good, but the side effect is that people remember me. And that’s how I get most of my business through word-of-mouth. After seeing me answer questions in many Facebook groups for writers, or after witnessing me connect people with useful resources, these same people remember me when a client is looking for work that they’re not experts in, but that they know I could do well. This is how one of my largest clients “landed on my lap:” a referral from an online friend who’s seen me help others online.

So if you want to grow your business, remember this: put helping others first, and the clients will follow. You still have to do your marketing, of course. But you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how helping others can also help you succeed. Here’s a quick recap of how the Seek to Serve lifeview works:

1. Be genuinely interested in others.

Gecko looking straight into camera

 

Take interest in what other people are doing, in what their business is about, and in what their interests are. Because when we are “aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits… [and] we all help one another, everybody wins” (Jim Stovall).

2. Truly listen.

Two women talking, Photo by Trung Thanh on Unsplash

Study good active listening skills and practice them daily. Listen to what others are saying, don’t interrupt, truly take in information, and think about how you could help them based on that information.

3. Always be thinking about how you can help people.

two older women talking and laughing on a bench, Photo by Dario Valenzuela on Unsplash

 

As you truly listen to others, always be thinking about how you could help them with resources you know about, be those resources people, information, or places. Tell people about things that could help them in their business: not unsolicited advice about how to do things, but things they may be interested in researching or checking out. This actually provides people with useful tips, without making you seem like a know-it-all or a bossy person.

4. Wait for those referrals (don’t ask for them—yet).

man sitting at airport looking at plane taking off, Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

 

I rarely ask for referrals, yet I frequently get them. I believe this happens because people tend to remember those who help them, and subconsciously, at least, they want to help them, too. Again, I don’t help people just to get referrals. I truly take joy in connecting people with resources, because seeing others succeed makes me happy. 

So, remember: seek to serve, and you’ll see success.

How do you seek to serve?

Setting Goals That Actually Work—FREE Worksheet!

So… you’re a procrastinator. It’s OK, you can admit it.

Most of us had no issue calling ourselves out in school. When we were up all night finishing an assignment that was due the next day, we’d just say it: I procrastinated. Then we became adults, and realized adulting is hard. Missing deadlines now have bigger consequences than failing a class. Especially if you’re a freelance writer. Or a mom who’s also a freelance writer. If procrastination is getting you down, it’s time to make things right by setting some goals that actually work.

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Accountability in Practice: How I Stay Accountable with My Personal Goals

I’m not great with accountability. Let me rephrase that. I’m an accountable person when it comes to my work. But when it comes to personal goals, I often don’t do well with accountability strategies, such as checking in with an accountability buddy. But I think that’s just because I hadn’t found “my people” yet.

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Unleash Your Creative Self

You’re more creative than you think.

I’ve been neglecting this blog since I started building the MultiTalented Writers site. With 3 young homeschooled kids at home, managing a household, building a new site, trying to maintain an exercise routine, maintaining some semblance of a social life, building a site from the ground up, and creating a new YouTube channel, there really isn’t that much time left to work on this blog. 

But since I love writing posts and I’d like to keep writing about my parenting, homeschooling, and general life experiences, I’ve returned for a few more posts 🙂 My hope is to post something at least weekly on this site, but we’ll see how it goes. I like to keep it real, and reality is, when you live the crazy life I live, not everything gets done. And I’ve learned to be OK with that.

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New Year’s Resolutions to Make the World a Better Place

Did you make New Year’s Resolutions for 2017? How are they coming along?

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something after following a link on this post, I may receive a small commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products and services that I use and love, or that I want to use in the near future.

If you’re like most people, even if you’re doing awesome with your New Year’s Resolutions, you’ll fall off the wagon as soon as March (if not sooner). And it’s not surprising, really.

If you follow the blog, you know it’s no secret that I don’t like New Year’s Resolutions. Not just because they’re the most ineffective way to reach a goal, but also because they tend to be too near-sighted and belly-button focused. The majority of people who make New Year’s Resolutions are thinking only of themselves when they make them. Case in point: the top New Year’s Resolutions are “losing weight” and working on self-improvement.

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Start 2017 on the right foot

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something after following a link on this post, I may receive a small commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products and services that I use and love, or that I want to use in the near future.

I’m committed to having my most organized, healthiest, most awesome year ever in 2017. I’m committed to setting SMART goals and making them happen this year. I’ve decided to quit making excuses for why I can’t do things, and remember that if I try my hardest, I can accomplish anything. I need to remember to take my own advice more often. I have followed my dreams and taken leaps of faith in the past, and it always ends well. It’s when I don’t take action that I get into a spiral of feeling sorry for myself, and I start to believe the word “can’t.”

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Your New Year’s Resolutions? They’re just not gonna happen.

I’m not fond of New Year’s Resolutions.

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that if you purchase something after following a link on this post, I may receive a small commission. Rest assured that I only recommend products and services that I use and love, or that I want to use in the near future.

I never make New Year’s Resolutions, and with good reason. Every year-end, about 50% of the US population makes New Year’s Resolutions, hoping to accomplish everything from weight loss to debt repayment. Yet, only about 8% of resolution-makers actually fulfill their New Year’s resolutions.

The reasons for these failures are many, but one of the main problems with New Year’s Resolutions is the lack of planning involved in making them. When people do make a plan, it’s often not well designed. And when it is well-designed, there’s often a lack of commitment to making it happen.

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Live life on your terms

I have an amazing life and I know it.  Even in my most dire financial times, I never wanted for food, shelter, or water.  I am blessed beyond belief.  Every time I feel like complaining, I remind myself of these three things: food, shelter, and clean water.  And not just any food, shelter, and water, either. 

I can afford to eat healthily and to indulge in treats. I live in a wonderful home with 3 flush toilets (yes, that is definitely a highlight), a comfortable bed, and even a bathtub.  I also have functioning modern appliances that mean I don’t have to slave over a wash basin to do the piles of laundry that 5 people undeniably create.  I have clean water that comes out of any tap inside my house. I can actually drink water from anywhere in my house without filtering it first (even if it does taste like chlorine sometimes, which is why we use a filter in the kitchen—oh yes, I can afford a filter!  Another blessing).

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