“I don’t have time to read books.”
I’ve said those words many times, especially since becoming a mother. Gone are the days of lounging for hours with a captivating novel, inspiring biography, or transformational self-help book. During my childhood and teenage years I devoured one book after another. I traded favorite books with friends, spent hours at the library, and saved my money for special trips to the bookstore. I’ve always loved to read, but as my life has filled up with good things like family and work, I find my time to read is very limited.
Since my daughter was born and decided to use her first year of life blessing me with severe sleep deprivation, my attention span for reading seemed to shrink from whole books down to whole magazine articles and then landed somewhere between half a blog post and the back of a cereal box.
These days I am happy to report that my preschooler loves to sleep and will even sleep in when I let her. I’m a lot less sleep deprived but somehow even busier. At the beginning of 2015 I went back to work full time for the first time since my daughter was born in 2011. Quite the transition! Now I rather precariously balance my time between work, family, blogging, errands, and trying to maintain a decent living environment whilst avoiding insanity. Not a small challenge.
I have less time than ever, but in 2015 I discovered books again. Oh how I missed reading! My mind expands, my imagination ignites, my negative thought patterns are challenged. Every good book I read causes me to grow in some way. When I began reading books again this past summer, I couldn’t believe I had let myself go so long without reading whole books. For several years I had only read maybe two books a year, but in six months I’ve read more than a dozen books. That may not sound like much to an avid reader, but to this busy working mom it’s a lot!
How do busy women find time to read books? Here’s how I do it:
1. Audio Books
Don’t hate me for making this one #1 and before you hop down to comment that “audio books are not the same as real books!” let me stop you… just hear me out here.
I commute nearly two hours a day during my work week. I spend no less than 10 hours a week in my car. At first I saw audio books as a way to ensure all that time wasn’t a total waste. Once I began listening I found myself completely hooked. I was practically giddy with the excitement of learning new things and being inspired. I fell in love with books again because of audio books. I find it more important to get the information into my head than to hold out for actual print books. When I have time on my hands but can’t read a book, I “read” an audio book.
What time do you have that you could use to listen to books? Why not listen while doing mindless tasks like folding laundry or washing dishes. Try going for a long walk while listening to a book. You can fill your mind during trips in the car.
Tip: I love Audible for my audio books. The app on my phone makes it easy for me to listen any time.
I strongly prefer books that have been recorded by the author him/herself. I listened to one recently that was read by professional narrator and I hated it. Hated it! Authors, if at all possible, do record your own books yourself. It means more as a reader; it’s more personal and just feels so authentic. Who else could say “for the love!” just like Jen Hatmaker?
2. BYOB (Bring Your Own Book)
When I am trying to read through a book, I bring it with me everywhere I go. That book comes along in my bag so I can read during my daughters 45-minute dance class, or while waiting to pick her up from church club, or during lunch break… any possible quiet moment to read, I know I’ll have my book with me!
Go right now and pick up a book from your shelf that you’ve been wanting to read. Put it in your purse and train yourself to read it whenever you have a moment of waiting, even if it’s only five minutes.
3. Schedule Book Time
Busy women everywhere know that if it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done! Take a look at your weeks schedule right now and pick two 15-minute segments of time to block out for reading. It isn’t a lot of time, but that’s the point really. I prefer to set completely manageable expectations and reachable goals than to shoot for something unattainable and become discouraged. As you meet your two fifteen minute reading goals a week you’ll being to realize how important this time is to you and can then begin to increase the length and frequency of your reading appointments.
Make sure you have a very comfortable space to read in and have a fresh, soothing cup of tea or coffee at hand. During your reading appointment, breathe in the relaxation and fresh inspiration.
My Top Picks
I have a deep love for non-fiction. I love something that speaks to my goals, my spirit, my faith. Here are the books I’ve read recently and loved the most (all available on Audible):
For the Love – Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker was my favorite book of 2015 without question. I listened on Audible and had to pull my car over to cry more than once… sometimes due to the emotional and spiritual breakthrough I was having, and other times due to hysterical laughter. Often I was yelling “YES! Soooo me!” It was completely freeing to hear someone say things about faith, church, love, family, and people that I’ve been thinking for a while now and didn’t know how to articulate those thoughts. I replayed many chapters for my husband. I loved this book so much that I’ll soon own the print version in addition to the Audible. For the love… this one was SO good!
Platform – Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. This book was published in 2012 and I just recently got around to reading it. WOW… awesome!
Platform was my first audio book. When it ended I was nearly crying “NO! Keep talking to me! Keep sharing your wisdom, Michael!” I then pulled into a gas station and immediately bought a new audio book.
This book is an absolute must for a blogger, speaker, writer, business owner, or anyone who has a message or product that they want people to know about.
Busy women everywhere, this is the book for you. The Best Yes – Making Wise Decisions in the Midst of Endless Demands by Lysa TerKeurst will change the way you think about what you say “yes” to and what you say “no” to.
I need to tell you that the audio book version of this book was dangerous. Dangerous as in it very nearly put me to sleep at the wheel of my car. CAN’T DEAL with the sleepy soft all-too-perfectly spoken narration. No good. I had to opt for the print version and it was much better.