DEAR HARRIETTE: Many people have advised me to start a few hobbies again to get my motivation back. A few years back, I abhorred reading, but recently, I have found a love for it.

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I typically read during the summertime when I do not have other obligations. When I get into a book, it is hard for me to focus on anything else or go to sleep until I finish it. This is not exactly productive when I need to do schoolwork.

I do not want to stop reading, because it is a much better use of my time than getting consumed by social media or television or naps that are way too long. Still, I need to do a better job managing my time so that I do not become so entranced in my books.

How do you suggest I manage my reading time in tandem with my schoolwork?

— Time Management

DEAR TIME MANAGEMENT: Reading is a much better use of your time than some alternative activities, so congratulate yourself on that.

Use technology to help you out. Set a timer on your phone to alert you to the end of reading time. Give yourself an hour for reading, followed by quiet. In order to calm your mind and prepare to sleep, you need to stop any form of stimulation.

Reading can be extremely engaging. It is known as a way to transport readers to new locales and experiences — not to lull them to sleep or toward schoolwork. So limit your reading time and pivot to your duties when the alarm sounds.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents are still married, but observing their marriage has led me to apprehensions about my future.

My father, while present in my and my sister’s lives, often leaned on my mother to handle the bulk of household responsibilities and parenting duties. Not only this, but my mother has also been the breadwinner of the family throughout my parents’ entire relationship. This dynamic created strain and an imbalance in their relationship.

Witnessing this has made me reluctant to consider marriage. I fear replicating the same pattern in my future relationships. I don’t want to end up shouldering most of the responsibilities, as I’ve seen my mother do.

As a woman, I’m concerned that this might limit my personal and professional growth, and I’m hesitant to commit to a relationship that might follow a similar path.

How can I navigate these reservations about marriage that stem from my observations of my parents’ relationship dynamics?

— Don’t Want To Repeat

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DEAR DON’T WANT TO REPEAT: Consider going to therapy to unpack your family dynamics and learn how to proceed in a disentangled way. With conscious practice, you may be able to avoid some of the traps your parents fell into.

You can also be conscious and intentional about how you choose a partner and what roles you agree to assume.

Things may change over time, but the more you agree upon in the beginning, the better chance you have of designing a life that features what you desire the most.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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