How to Keep Yourself Motivated and Organized for Reading Challenges

Posted November 19, 2015 by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction in Blogging Tips, Challenges, Let's Discuss / 59 Comments

It might seem strange for me to write an organization post – after all, I’ve confessed on multiple occasions that I’m NOT an organized person. But that just means that I need to be extra careful about organizing when it counts! The only way that reading and blogging challenges really work is if you’ve got them organized.

Now that the end of the year is coming up (hard to believe, right?), it’s time to start thinking challenges again. And this time I want to be ready!


Two years ago, I signed up for about a bajillion reading challenges – I was easily reading over 200 books a year at that point (this year I’ll be down closer to 150), and I figured why not apply all those books to challenges? Well, it didn’t take me long to realize that reading the books for the challenges and actually keeping track of them were two very different things. I drove myself so crazy that this year I said forget it, and I ONLY participated in the Goodreads reading challenge and the Book Blog Discussion Challenge (which I host along with Shannon, so that one was a given).

This year, I’d like to find a happy medium. I want to participate in a few challenges that will be fun and keep me motivated. Even though my challenge participation two years ago was dismal, it did teach me some valuable lessons. And I want to share them with you!

  • Don’t overwhelm yourself. This is key. If you sign up for twenty challenges, the chances that you’ll keep up with ANY of them is slimmer. I know it’s hard not to join in on everything that sounds fun, but try to limit yourself to a reasonable number that you can keep up with.
  • Go for variety. Sure, you could sign up for ten challenges where you try to get that NetGalley score up to 80%, but what’s the point? If every time you write a NetGalley review you feel the need to link it up to ten different places, it will start to feel like work instead of fun. And adding challenges for the same book doesn’t really help to motivate you more. (If you’re the type of person who likes to enter a lot of giveaways, and you’re willing to put in the work, entering multiple challenges for the same types of books might be worth it to you, but otherwise I’d skip it.)
  • Fully participate. Don’t just link up and leave. Check out some other posts that are linked up as well. Not only will you expand your horizons and meet some new bloggers you might not otherwise have met, but you’ll also feel more connected to the challenge, which will make you more likely to keep up with it! Participating on social media is a great idea too. I have to confess that I’m not great with social media, but I always retweet people’s discussion posts when they use the discussion hashtag – I love to spread the word about great discussions!
  • Bookmark the challenge post. Hopefully whoever is running the challenge you’ve signed up for has a good system for letting you  know when the newest link-up is available. I learned this the hard way after being really frustrated with a few challenges – that’s why when I created the Discussion Challenge, I vowed to keep the original sign-up post always updated with the newest link-up. It makes life SO much easier! If you’re signing up for an established challenge, check out older link-up posts and make sure that the host makes it obvious when and how to link up. If not, find another challenge – it won’t be worth your time and effort to keep up with this one. Then, bookmark the challenge page (or keep a list somewhere where you’ll be able to find it and access it often). You’d be amazed how many people have the best of intentions to follow through with a challenge and then just forget all about it. (This is something I’m going to try to amend next year for the Discussion Challenge – maybe with quarterly emails? What do you think of that idea? I don’t want to spam people, but quarterly probably wouldn’t be too frustrating.)
  • Give a monthly update. This is something I did do the year that I overwhelmed myself with challenges, but I just had too many to keep track of and eventually gave up. Monthly, go through your challenges and share where you’re at – if you do a month end wrap-up post, that’s a great place to share the info. This will help keep you organized and updated. It will also remind you to go link up all the posts you may have forgotten about during the month. 🙂
  • Make it fun! This is the most important part. Look for challenges that really speak to you because they’re fun and interesting. You’ll be more motivated to keep up with challenges that have some level of excitement to them – a great giveaway or an enthusiastic host who keeps you motivated or even just a goal that’s really important to you (like that NetGalley score). Don’t sign up for a challenge just because your blogger friends are doing it – find ones that really speak to you! And then go for it!!

I haven’t decided exactly which challenges I’m going to participate in next year (besides the Discussion Challenge, of course), but I think I’ll be looking for a series challenge (since I’m terrible at finishing series – I need some motivation!!) and probably one review book challenge. If you know of any great ones, let me know!

What challenges are you planning to participate in during 2016? Do you have any hints on how best to keep them organized? I want to know!




59 responses to “How to Keep Yourself Motivated and Organized for Reading Challenges

  1. I definitely over did it last year, so this year I only did the GR one, discussion, audiobooks, and the one we ran (ShelfLove). Much easier to keep up with just a select few. I like being able to track challenges using special GR shelves that you can embed in an update post. I haven’t decided which ones I’m doing next year. I always do the GR challenge (just a good way to track what you’re reading anyway).

  2. Great post! When I first sarted blogging I didn’t participate in any challenges, then slowly I took part in a few shorter ones and this is the first year I participated in some year long ones and I really enjoyed them, but also will be doing a few things differently next year. I found out some challenges I like and ones that don’t work for me and how I do beter with yearly goals than monthly goals.

    I like all your tips and I think those really help to make participating in challenges more fun. I think variety can make participating in challenges mrer exciting and I haven’t signed up for similiar challenges so far as I don’t see the point.

    Don’t overhwelm yourself is also a good one, I think my limit is 3 or 4 yearly ones and maybe some monthly ones, as else it becomes too much. I participate in some challenges more than others, but I do think the more I participate and the more the hosts do around a challenge, the more fun they are. I always participate in Coyer twice a year as it’s such a fun and interactive challenge and I met some greta peoepl through it. With the yearly ones I sometimes forget to link-up or get less dedicated after a few months. I am hoping to do better with that next year.

    I did monthly challenges for some of my reading challenges and quarterly for others and decided for next year to go with quarterly recap post and do one recap post for all my challenges instead of individual recap posts for eahc of them. Even if I make monthly progress I think the quarterly ones work better for me, so we’ll see how that goes next year. I might switch back to monthly if I don’t like it.

  3. I overdid it my first year of blogging and scaled it back this year. I tried to find challenges that actually shot for goals that I wanted to accomplish. The #ShelfLove Challenge definitely met a need in my life and your Discussion Challenge helped me focus on doing something other than book reviews.

    BTW, I would recommend that all hosts do what you did. On the Main Challenge page, you provided a direct link to each Monthly Post Link-Up. It made it SO easy to participate in your challenge. I started doing it with the #ShelfLove Challenge.

    Great post!

    Terri M., the Director recently posted: A Blog Post a Day Update | A Note from the Director
  4. I completed my GR challenge and was only doing the PopSugar one as well. But the I started blogging and am bogged down with ARCs so I won’t finish it. Next year I want to try maybe two smaller challenges that take me out of my comfort zone though. I like the monthly update idea to be held accountable. Great tips!

    Grace @ Rebel Mommy Book Blog recently posted: How I Keep Organized Blogging
    • That’s how I was too – I actually pretty much completed all of the challenges and even managed to mostly keep track on a monthly basis, but I never linked up, so it barely felt like I was participating! That’s why when we created our discussion challenge, I tried to make it REALLY easy to find the link-up. I got so frustrated trying to find all the link-ups sometimes that it wasn’t worth my time and effort!

  5. Great post! When I first started blogging I signed up for a TON of challenges. Obviously I overdid myself and wasn’t able to keep up. Especially since I wasn’t receiving ARCs back then and I signed up for things like the Debut Author Challenge, and there was just no way I could buy that many books all the time. Since then I kind of shy away from them completely. I didn’t join a single challenge this year except for Goodreads. There I challenged myself to read 100 books, which I was so happy to reach a few months ago. But that’s it for me. I do sign up for readathons throughout the year though when I think I have the extra time to read like mad! Great post, I love seeing others’ progress with challenges. 🙂

    Lisa @ Lost in Literature recently posted: Let’s Chat Buddy Style: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  6. Thank you for this post! I only joined 3 challenges this year, and I think that’s a good number for me. I haven’t done the monthly update though, and I may start doing that this month. And for the record, I think you’ve done a great job with the Discussion Challenge! It’s always really easy to find the link-ups. And I totally wouldn’t mind getting a quarterly email next year. 🙂

  7. I agree! My first real year I knew what I was doing, I signed up for everything I found. It was a lot of work and I didn’t do so well with the reading and first year teaching that year. Last year I was very strategic in what I selected for challenges, as I will do again this December.
    I always do the GR challenge and the Alphabet Soup challenge. Next year I want to focus more on challenges like ShelfLove and NetGalley more so than anything else.

  8. I am doing a reading challenge this year! One was to read 100 books which I finished pretty early xd And the other was a challenge where I needed to read subject specific books and I still have four books to read by the end of December which is making me panic a bit! Especially as one of them is an 800 page books and those usually take a month, so we’re gonna have to see how I do… But yes, keeping organised when it comes to challenges and NOT overwhelming yourself is essential!

    Olivia Roach recently posted: Cinder (Review)
  9. These are great points. I signed up for several challenges this year but kept the quota of books to a minimum and mostly did it so I would get out of my comfort zone a little, it’s easy to get stuck in the same kinds of books. I haven’t participated as much as I would wish, so I think I’ll go with even fewer challenges next year (two or three max) so I can visit other people’s links and such.
    I haven’t set a Goodreads challenge because I never know what the year will bring and I didn’t want to feel bad if I didn’t, say, finish 70 books this year (I did but I had no way of knowing I would have enough time, what with having a kid and all).
    Will you be having your discussion challenge again in 2016? That’s one I’d like to participate in, I think.

    Kaja recently posted: Lady Thief by A. C. Gaughen
  10. staying motivated it was i have a hard time doing. And I will read the books but not stay active in connecting what I read to the challenge. So bad. great post

    • I know – keeping connected is the hardest part, but it’s also what makes you feel a part of the challenge. I can honestly say that the bloggers who have participated in my discussion challenge are some of the bloggers I now know best because I’ve stayed connected with them all year!

  11. Agh, I am the absolute worst when it comes to blogging/reading challenges. The first year I tried them I only signed up for about 4 but I ended up abandoning them half way through the year and the same has happened again! I think my main problem is that if I feel like I have to read a book I will decide to read anything except that book, which means my challenges never get completed. I think next year the goal will be not to sign up for any challenges 😉 Thanks for the advice though!

    Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf

    Zareena @ The Slanted Bookshelf recently posted: Review: Rikki by Abigail Strom // I love Rikki!
  12. I think I actually only did the ones you did- the discussion one and Goodreads! I do join in with Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl’s debut one, but that’s pretty chill (kind of like ours- a link up, some giveaways, it’s fun!) Because I would become obsessed if I tried to do too many, and would likely drive myself insane. You are I are like, the disorganization twins 😉

    Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight recently posted: This Week At Midnight (88)
  13. The only challenge I’ve ever signed up for is the discussion challenge (which I have been loving by the way!), but I was thinking of signing up for a reading challenge next year. Probably just the one though, because if I do too many I’ll probably just get confused and end up not completing any of them!

    Laura recently posted: I opened an Etsy shop!
    • The more you actually participate, the more connected you’ll be, which will make it more fun, which will make you want to participate more. It’s a non-vicious circle. (Is there a positive word for a vicious circle? I can’t think of one, but it’s early in the morning and my brain’s not working yet! LOL!)

  14. Not adding too many challenges can be a challenge in itself, Nicole 😉 I have done pretty well this year, but I still want to make sure I don’t overdo it next year.
    I host the 2016 New Release Challenge, where we read and review books released in 2016… it’s possible to read both ARCs and purchased books, so for me, that’s a good way to keep going on my Netgalley and Edelweiss books.
    I also always participate in the COYER (clean out your e-reader) challenge, because it’s only for short periods during the year, and I’ve made so many good blogger-friends through that challenge!
    I think I’ll try the audiobook challenge again, too, even if I didn’t manage to reach my goal for this year.

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted: 2016 New Release Challenge sign-up
    • I’m creating a list of 2016 challenges that I’m going to put up on my blog, so I’ll be sure to include your New Release Challenge!! And I might just sign up for it too – this is one challenge that I can definitely handle, and it looks like you girls put a lot of fun into it (which is something I’m looking for).

  15. Great post, Nicole! I especially like your tips on not overwhelming yourself and fully participating. I’ve participated in quite a few challenges this year and while I’ve done well with them, it’s been difficult to keep up with my progress AND I feel like I haven’t had the time to connect with others participating in the same challenges. I’ll keep these tips in mind when signing up for challenges in 2016. 🙂

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: New Release Review ~ Eighteen (18) ~ JA Huss
  16. Wonderful post! My problem with challenges is that… I’m a very slow and AMBITIOUS reader. At the start of a year it’s like, “I GOT A WHOLE YEAR TO DO THIS! I got tiiimmeee” so I read very slow and do life and not read. My challenge this year was 30 books. I started in JUNE! And now I’m so busy, I can’t even finish it. I think I’ll get 25 books done max. Do you have tips for slow readers to get their reading actually done?

    *SUDDENLY SJ has been struck with her own post idea*


    • Ha! Glad you came up with a new post idea. Not sure what I’d say to help you speed up. I read A LOT, so it’s not an issue I’ve had to face! Although I would say, it might help you if you’re tracking your books monthly. So, if you have a 40 book challenge, you can think of it as a challenge to read two to three books a month. That should help.

  17. My first year, I WAY over did it on the challenges. My thing was, I wanted to challenge myself, (duh) to do MORE, read MORE. That did not work out.

    I wish I could remember where all the challenges were put together so I am able to take a look. I will do the discussion challenge again, if ya’ll do it. But not sure about any more LOL

    tonyalee recently posted: My Dream Literary Collection

Leave a Reply

(Enter your URL then click here to include a link to one of your blog posts.)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.