A celebrity acquaintance asked me this evening at the OSN re-launch at the Atlantis where I get the energy to keep up with work, travel, dance, child, gym and still buy books to read (this was after she read my blog on the potential near death of the publishing world)….it was a tough question because somehow, when you go with the flow, you integrate activities like reading into your lifestyle with ease. There is no set formula I can share with women who are hip, trendy working mothers who want it all in life and want to make no apologies for their ‘me’ time. I guess, reading falls under ‘me time’ for many, including myself.

It all boils down to how much you love reading. For instance I keep my blackberry on all the time because I love my job and believe in the philosophy that if I can tackle something right away while enjoying the sunset on the beach after work, it certainly beats staring at the computer doing the same thing the next day….it only delays things. There are days I take my magazines to the beach near my office and read it in between swimming – I learnt this by seeing how some Emirati women come to the beach with the Quran, read it just before sunset and pray after that with the sound of the waves in the background….they always look so calm and serene when they do that so it has inspired me now to stop at the beach after work, read and swim before heading home.

When you love what you do….its easy to integrate that in your lifestyle. I dance on days I don’t feel like the treadmill and choose what takes my fancy at that moment….depending on if its salsa, bellydancing, zumba or hip hop, I then decide where I will work out and if I can do my groceries on the way. When I need extra time with my child, I choose a gym nearer to where she is to make it easy and it gives me extra time to read or watch TV because she goes to bed early. Its all about planning your life around things that you enjoy.

Reading, like travelling broadens your horizon, your thinking and your outlook of life. I travel for work but naturally prefer travelling for pleasure…my holiday travel stopped tremendously with my current job because I had taken on way too much than I could chew to my own detriment. But I’m slowly getting back to my normal self where I make time to get out and see places instead of slogging all the time.

A therapist friend told me a few months ago that no matter how much you work there is always somebody else’s business benefitting from it such as clients demanding and getting more and  more and the money doesn’t necessarily go back into the same business unless you work for yourself. I even had a amusing incident last year where I was harassed by a woman from a dodgy country for money for a job she didn’t do any work for. These are good lessons because you learn the hard way that making sacrifices on your reading or ‘me’ time because of working during your personal time does not help you grow – books teach you about the world and going to places you read about enhances the experience.

There is a Chinese proverb that says “Learning is like rowing upstream; not to advance is to drop back”.  Learning new things is not just for personal growth though – in the business that we are in, intellectual savvy is just as important to gain clients confidence as much as the know how of the technical and implementation work. I strongly believe that clients have more confidence in people who are well travelled and have a wider knowledge base because they have better insights and can give different perspectives to different situations.

The business world today with unpredictable economic shifts and changing media keeps us on our toes and makes us become adaptive and savvy to stay one step ahead of the game. So I guess, reading is no longer a luxury but a necessity. And to my friend from tonight….yes making time to read is tough but its got to be done.

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