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Find 10 free hours this weekend

(MoneyWatch) This past weekend, I read a entire book.

I'm still not quite sure how this happened. It wasn't a particular page turner (although my husband made it through "The Hunger Games" this weekend, which is). We went to an aquarium as a family. We had friends over, and we did some work in the yard. Yet somehow, with both of us intent on getting through our books, we probably manufactured 10 hours of reading time apiece.

Where did that time come from? It's an interesting question, and provides a bit of insight into that usual complaint from seemingly overworked and overscheduled Americans: that we have no free time. This was over a weekend, so while we weren't really working (except for the occasional email) we didn't have any childcare for our three children under age 5 either. And yet somehow we read like demons.

Looking back, I think there were a few things at play. First, our cable and Internet went out for half of Saturday. So on Saturday, while the kids played, and at night after the kids went to bed, when we might have been tempted to watch TV (or web surf, in our geeky way) we sat on the couch and read instead.

And second, the excuse "I don't have time" needs to be viewed in context. We have time for just about anything. As an example, if someone offered to pay you $10,000 to read a book this weekend, you'd probably find the time -- a full 10 hours if necessary. But since this isn't going to happen, you can use more accurate language: "It's not a priority." When things become important to us, we find the space. Twenty years ago, few people had personal cellphones. Over the past two decades, the majority of American families have found space in their budgets for such things, often for multiple family members. Likewise, we find time for TV. We find time to putter, to do inefficient housekeeping, to read things we don't really care about while hunting through the mail pile. All that time could be redeployed toward reading something one really does care about.

If you have a snappy enough book, you will. That's how you can find 10 free hours this weekend. What time could you redeploy in pursuit of something more enjoyable?

Photo courtesy of Flickr user CosmoPolitician
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