I have always wondered how people make time to read technical books. Because after working for 8-10 hrs a day (sometimes even 12 hrs) first thing I want to do is to keep myself away from the technical details. Even if I try to read the technical books, I can't put my 100% in to it (with out that reading is of no use, I believe). I read a bit during weekends but most of the time I will be on some other personal work.

So, Let me know how do you people manage time for reading technical books?

+9  A: 

I try and read a little bit every day and take the odd 15 mins at work to do this. Its important to keep learning.

+34  A: 

I think it works best while commuting :)

Otherwise its way tough in this busy world today!!

i do this almost everyday!
I would too, if my car had an autopilot.
Jim C
I do this, but the techy books usually get fierce competition from good novels. Oh well.
If you drive, it has to be podcasts.
Alan Hensel
I wish I could take the bus/subway again. I'd have so much reading done. Unfortunately, I live in an awkward location where it's 2 hours by transit, and 30 minutes by car. At least there's CBC radio for great news and issues coverage..
POdcast are good for news and general information, but I've never been able to use them for technical information. That I have to read.
Jim C
Reading during commuting never worked for me.Especially when you had to cram yourself inside a subway in New York City. It's a hour-long commute, one way, but it never worked out.
Sung Meister
One of the benefits of living in city: two hours of reading on the tube everyday. Assuming you have enough space to actually open a book, you get through the books pretty quick. I would be much less of a programmer if I lived closer to work.
I keep a book in my backpack, which I read when in metro or bus. It works quite well for me.
Esko Luontola
The problem with podcasts and the like is that I can't give full attention to the speaker. I'm listening now to the Feynman lectures on the way to work, and I've missed important parts due to traffic problems cropping up.
David Thornley
I hate the 1+ hour bus in, and then out, of Dublin every day, but I use the time to read all the technical books that I'd otherwise never read
+70  A: 

Turn off the television.

Jim C
I would also suggest turning off your Laptop/PC, unless you are reading from it.
You have a TV? Wow, how odd! :)
Jonathan Leffler
Related answer - Uninstall your PC games and game consoles.
Sung Meister
I agree with this - I found when I got rid of my TV, I suddenly had a lot more free time available to me.
Remi Despres-Smyth
I want to +1 Jonathan's comment. :-) *does not watch TV at all*
Chris Jester-Young
I don't have TV at my home. So no question of turning it off :-)
Switch of internet too, if you are reading on PC/laptop. Many a times mind starts wandering on net. Go through many books and pick up one that is most interesting. Some books are like novels and you may get glued to them.
What does "television" mean? :-??
Andrei Rinea
+5  A: 

I try to read and understand a chapter in bed, just before sleep. It's quite often that I read, but I don't understand it. In this case I read it again the next day.

I also read in bed. It help me relax before going to sleep. The only problem is sometime read for too long so I don't get all the sleep I need.
Eric Hogue
Reading before bed is good, but reading *in* bed lets your mind associate being in bed with a wakeful, attentive state. As one who is prone to insomnia, I find it best to read in a comfy chair *near* bed.
Alan Hensel
I have always found it helpful to read stuff I want to learn right before going to bed. I've never seen a difference between in bed or in a chair, except if I fall asleep it's nicer if I'm already in bed. :)
@ehogue: I have that same side effect...
Alex. S.
@ehogue: Same here...
Nelson Reis
+4  A: 

I got half an hour on the train to and from work. It's hard to use that time for coding on anything serious, but it works allright for reading half a chapter or so in a book.

Christian Vest Hansen
+30  A: 

I listen to tech podcasts when I'm driving or walking. Not quite the same, but I still learn

Have you some recommendations?
Hanselminutes, and herding code. And of course, StackOverflow (although that's mostly waffle ;-))
+1  A: 

On the way to work (train)

+9  A: 

Eat lunch? Read while eating. Carve out some learning time during work. You may need to convince your boss this is important, but most reasonable employers understand that technical folks need to keep improving their skills. If you are seriously working 10 and sometimes 12 hour days regularly, find a different job -- or let your employer know that he's hurting productivity. I've seen several studies that shows that productivity actually improves with reductions in work time. Here's a link to one article.

+24  A: 

On the throne! (elsewhere my girlfriend think she can ask me any question at any without problem, but you need to focus!)

Also dimecasts these are short 10 minutes videos to the point and on very nice topic.

Easily the best place to get anything done, although my girlfriend complains that I spend too long on the toilet.
i'm curious how many people also do this.
levi rosol
Yep! My girlfriend is constantly moving the books out of the bathroom so I wont spend so much time in there!
+2  A: 

I have a habit of reading early in the morning from my schooling days...I found it to be most distraction free :)

+2  A: 

I use for reading books online.

I read the books while commuting. A sub-notebook PC or a smartphone helps a lot :)

Also, limit your stackoverflow use :)

+1 for limiting stackoverflow use :)
Andrei Rinea
+54  A: 

I schedule it. (Seriously)

The way I look at it, most of my technical reading is directly related to the work I do and so it is a necessary and vital part to getting the job done. I block off 30 minutes a day to do some technical reading at my desk, whether that is out of a book or off some website. I don't tend to read a lot of technical books at home because I simply have other priorities.

I put my headphones in to block out any office chit-chat and can read quite a few pages during that half hour.

I schedule my tech ed time as well. That's really the only way to make sure that you stay abreast of technology. If you look around at the other answers everyone schedules time to study whether its during a commute or at work.
DL Redden
+1  A: 

I normally read on the bed before I go to sleep. I often fall asleep with the book in my hand ("ouch!")

You could also wake up early and read.


Guess need to read about Time Management to get an answer.


as i am still a stundent i read a lot during breaks. also i tend to start reading when i find that a particular lecture is boring or i find that i have heard about this before.

at home i do not have a tv and i sometimes have to force myself to turn off the computer to read, but most of the time i manage to find half an hour to an hour to read.

also you could try reading on the way to work or university if you do not drive yourself.

+8  A: 

All it takes is one hour a night. Turn off the TV (don't worry, Tivo's got you covered, right?). Schedule a defrag/virus-scan or some other task that renders your computers useless. Grab the book, go to a quiet, comfortable place with good lighting and just read.

It also helps if the book you are reading is well written and is conducive to just reading rather than "read paragraph - do example" type books.


Apparently I have more catching up to do than others here. I like to have at least an hour block. I can get through a solid 20-30 pages of material in that time. Adjust the amount of time you set aside appropriately for your reading habits.

Rob Allen
+1 For the defrag/virus-scan strategy :-)
Nelson Reis

Like most IT people I don't manage very well at all due to way too much work to do... I've got several books sitting around still unopened. I don't get enough sleep as it is, going from job to job to job, etc. Haven't turned on a TV in weeks, nevermind having half an hour to sit down with a book.

Brian Knoblauch
+4  A: 

The first thing to do is to find time to read "Getting Things Done" or go visit

I still need to schedule that one :)
Totally. This has changed my life!

I usually go to the office by the tram. Yes, it's slow, but it does'n get into traffic jams and it runs steady enough to read. So I have at least twenty minutes everyday for reading. It's not much, but it has regularity I can't keep to otherwise.

+1  A: 

Our company has enacted a period of 3 hours a week 'playtime' to do whatever (tech related, not playing warcraft) when you cannot be interrupted by work (short of emergency situations) I find it a good opportunity to catch up on the stack of magazines collecting on my desk or to go thru a chapter or two of some training guide.

+3  A: 

I try to go to the coffee shop a few times a week and spend an hour or so reading a technical book while I have my coffee before work -- it has been the most effective and pleasant way for me to read tech books.

Reading them in bed at bedtime is a recipie for falling asleep after two pages, I'm fresher in the morning and I can listen to music and really focus.

Guy Starbuck
+3  A: 

Instead of working my whole life and then retiring at the end, I take my retirement in chunks by quitting and being unemployed periodically. This approach gives me lots of time to read (also lots of time to watch television, surf the web, stare at the wall etc.).


I buy one or two new books every month and put them in the toilet, the one place I will not be bugged or interrupted... because everybody knows what happens if I drop a SBD.

Aside from that, I tend to read before going to sleep.

+2  A: 

Weekends mostly.. and finding the right books that keep me reading. Over time I find myself reading meta-books and soft-human-thinking skills... The value gained lasts longer than the techies.
technical books are normally tough long reads and require simultaneously typing.. So I am very choosy about the techie books i read.
Aim for something like a book every 2 months or so.. Other than that the only advice is 'If you want it hard enough... you'll make time for it.'


Before managing time to read technical books it's important to manage time to read books of any kind. If you have some kind of reading habit you can easily fit all kinds of books: technical, novels, etc.

Actually I read good novels at night. But it is difficult to concentrate on technical books after working for the whole day.
+1  A: 

Make it part of your schedule. Staying current is actually part of your job

+2  A: 

My secret: pack a lunch. Since I don't have to go anywhere to get lunch, my 1-hour break is a lot more time than I need to eat. (Bonus: it's cheap.)

In the past year, I've learned several whole new skill sets from what I read on my lunch break. And since I'm on my own time, I don't feel guilty if it doesn't have immediate relevance to my job.

Nathan Long
+1  A: 

I would suggest one solid hour in the early morning (6 to 7 AM) for good reading. Lunch breaks never work for me because of peer pressure. Late nights are also fine but of course that depends on personal commitments. Being a bachelor myself, I have plenty of time to kill, usually in the late nights. And I usually end up doing the bulk of my technical reading at around 11 PM to 1 AM.

Vijay Dev
+3  A: 

As RSI patient I have to do some kind of fitness training, so I tend to read while on the hometrainer.

That way the training part doesnt seem as boring, and I get some reading done. Though its hard to concentrate with hartrates above 125, so just keep it low for some time, then put the reading material away, put on your mp3 player and step on it :)

Emile Vrijdags
+1  A: 

Ruthless efficiency ;-)

... and an almost fanatical devotion to the pope?
Ola Eldøy
Nobody expects it, really !

I gravitate toward the shorter, well written books. The ones that don't tackle every dreadful crevice of a subject. If they are well written I stay interested - along the lines of Douglas Crockford's JavaScript: The Good Parts - weighing in at a mere 145 pages. If you're interested, you will be re-reading sections to flesh out the nuances.

If I get through the shorties (I did with Crockford), and my interest has been piqued, I move on to the tomes, like JavaScript The Definitive Guide by David Flanagan - weighing in at 945 pages.

Also, it helps to frequently skim and go back. Sort of an iterative and incremental reading style.


The way I do it is I often alternate between pleasure reading (Science fiction, fantasy, mystery) and technical books. I force myself to read a good technical book for every two non-technical books I read.

Also with respect to reading books. In the last year I've found that reading blogs can be more effective than books for certain subjects. New technology in particular has much better blog posts than available books. F# is a great example of this. There are only 2-3 books for F# and none of them are really great. The blog world though is full of impactful information.

+1  A: 

take breaks during working hours and do some readings; practice during weekends.


The book "How to Read a Book" is excellent. One point they make, and I agree with completely, is that reading in bed is doing yourself and the book a disservice. Unless you are using it as a tranquilizer, but if you want to really learn, it is important to do so in an environment conducive to learning. These usually don't include pillows and a comforter.


Do they still make books? I just get all my info in the intertubes.

+2  A: 

Sign your kids up for sports but don't get involved. You get to sit under a shady tree for 90 minutes during baseball practice and all you need to do is yell "Atta boy!" every five minutes or so.


Learn how to speed read or at least skim books. Most things you learn from doing especially with technology and math. I carry textbooks in my man bag and pull them out whenever I'm on the tube or bus.

I use an index card to keep my eyes on one line, it lets me read a lot faster. You might not get everything but you'll get an overview of the topic and can read it thru again.

ie: I read thru a book on Risk Management in Financial Institutions recently. I went thru 400 pages in 6 weeks of reading during my commute.

Remember theres a lot of idle time in the day, don't confuse that with relaxation. Sitting in your can or sitting on a bus listening to music is not relaxation time. You can turn that into productive time quite easily.

I'm looking into picking up an IRex Iliad for reading PDFs, I currently have a sony PRS-505 ebook for reading novels but its aweful for PDFs.

PS: I work 10-14h 6 days a week

Scott Cowan

When I read novels, I read quite slowly - effectively narrating them to myself. Now, it doesn't matter that I consume novels at a snail's pace: I'm reading for leisure. However, I hardly need to point out that narration is a terrible way to read technical books.

I don't make a lot of time to read technical books, so I have to make that time count. Apart from practising my speed-reading, which helps with all but the most complicated paragraphs, I find that my best ally is to decide which bits not to read. I don't have a bottomless pit of a memory - quite the opposite. So I like to get a brief overview of my subject, and enough detail to get me started, plus any obviously necessary bits of knowledge that will make me sound less vacuous.

+2  A: 

I find the best way to study new material is to do it in short bursts but often. Easy-to-read material will be understood after the first pass however more often than not, reading technical material can be very heavy so chipping away at it, bit-by-bit, is the approach I like the best.

In the past, I used to spend a few minutes reading material before I fell asleep. It's surprising how effective this can be!. On the other hand, an old friend used to keep tech books in his toilet, but I don't have the 'concentration' for that kind of reading. A few years ago, when I started a new job in a new field (it was quite a leap), I used to turn up early and spend an hour every morning reading through books and spec, studying the code, before the rest of the staff turned up and settled into their coffees.

These days I take the attitude that learning on the job is 1) necessary to keep uptodate, and 2) motivational - plus I'm appraised annually on my 'learnability', so I try hard to fit in time for short bursts (10-30 minutes) of study between daily tasks.


To be honest, I have never actually read a technical book cover to cover if it was over a programming topic. More often than not I just read the chapters that contain information that apply to what I am currently doing, or that seem interesting.

When I do sit down and read a chapter or two in a technical book it tends to depend upon what I am working on and where I am at. If I am working on a problem at work and the book has the solution - then I will just read the chapter and solve the problem. Otherwise, I typically read the books during lunch if I'm not eating with others, during my commute, or when I have some free time on the weekends.

Time management in regards to technical books is entirely dependent upon what you are looking to get out of them. If you find it hard to read them cover to cover, you might want to just focus on the chapters that seems the most intersting to you.


I am lucky in that I get paid to do it. The company I work for not only allows me to have up to 3 hours of personal development (researching new technologies, reading tech books etc.) a day, but if I find a new resource I would like, they will have it shipped amazon prime and on my desk ASAP. I take this time very seriously, and try to distill as much info as I can, so that I can distribute it to my co-workers. Not everyone likes to do all the tech reading, so I take that burden.


If you can't get your work done in an 8 hour day, you're taking on too much. Fix that first.

Then you've freed up 2-4 hours a day that you could use for reading.

+2  A: 

We are always multi-tasking, waiting for any of the blocking operations to complete (like long compiling, waiting for your buddy to do something for you, internet failure.) That is when you read a page.

Always bring along a book. You can read a page while waiting for a car wash to be completed, waiting in line for an appointment with a doctor, or a table.


Complete all your tasks ahead of schedule. Spare some time with books. Or on weekends you read.


I get asked this question a lot :) (along with: "how do you get the time to read all those blogs!"). Basically I usually come back home earlier than my wife so I just have some free time to read a few pages each day. I also read a little at work, but not that much, and mostly it's a "find quick answer" kind of reading.

Krzysztof Koźmic

Further to itsmatt, here's now i approach technical reading:

  1. Reiterate, schedule it! Like any project at home, making time for it is the only way to get it done.
  2. My office at home has a closable-lockable door. If you're PC is in the bedroom and you are able to move it out into a separate room, do it, you'll thank yourself
  3. My office only has my desk, PC, bookshelf, a reading chair, and headphones. I don't have a big stereo, nothing on the walls, no clock, no clutter, no other distractions
  4. My reading chair is a guest chair, not a lazy boy.
  5. My office has natural light, and has a reading light
  6. I choose something i'm really interested in, it's not always about programming, sometimes it's Scientific America, Wired or even PC Magazine

I was really hard to get my office to look this way, but after i did that, it was easier.


I put some reading material on my Smartphone. That way, I can always read a little passage when a time window opens.

Ola Eldøy

First, figure out how you already spend your time. Keep a log of activities during your entire day. After a week or two, break out the Excel pie chart. See where your time goes. Then decide what gets cut to make room for reading.

BTW, don't bother reading when you're tired. It won't stick. Look up SQ3R on wikipedia so you can be more effective at reading and remembering.


In the bath, safe from from interuptions (but be careful you don't drop the book).

I try to avoid reading or working anything too close to bedtime, if my mind is buzzing I have real trouble getting to sleep and when I do I dream of code and wake up knackered.


I like to take a break from the screen periodically at work - maybe 15 minutes twice a day - to do some reading. I have a comfy chair in my office - usually make some tea - and relax and read.

+2  A: 

I start my day out by NOT OPENING UP EMAIL, and instead take 20-30 minutes to read technical material - mostly reviewing rss feeds, but occasionally real books. It actually takes quite a bit of discipline not to jump into email first thing, but it's totally worth it. If your boss or work schedule doesn't allow that kind of activity during 'office hours', get to work 30 minutes early (or maybe get a new boss :) ). Reading at the end of the day doesn't work for me that well because my brain is too tired to engage and that makes it harder to be disciplined about it. Doing it first thing in the morning not only takes care of the scheduling issue, but it allows me to focus on the topics more clearly.

This is the approach suggested by *The Four Hour Work-Week*.

I read books only during unemployment, relevant to the last interview questions that I could not answer, or relevant to the future questions, if I know what they are going to be. Cannot find time otherwise.