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How Busy Women Find Time To Read Books

I WANT to Read, But…

“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. Although I’m a lot less sleep deprived, somehow I’m 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.

Hello, Books! I’ve Missed You!

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:

How Busy Women Find Time To Read Books

How Busy Women Find Time to Read Books

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 and I fell in love with books again because of audio books. For me, it’s 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):

How Busy Women Find Time To Read BooksFor 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!
How Busy Women Find Time To Read BooksPlatform – Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt. Platform 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.
How Busy Women Find Time To Read BooksBusy 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.


Happy reading!

17 Comments on How Busy Women Find Time to Read Books

  1. Terri
    January 6, 2016 at 11:08 pm (3 years ago)

    Great post. I always am reading something, since christmas vacation I have read three books.

  2. Samantha Lee-Wiraatmaja
    January 7, 2016 at 12:42 am (3 years ago)

    I really need to make time to read more this year. Thank you for the timely reminder + practical tips!

  3. Sue Allen
    January 7, 2016 at 8:04 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks for the inspiring suggestions. I typically pick up a book and struggle to find the time to read amidst four kids & a puppy. There are so many amazing reads that are on my “to do” list. And even though audio books is an incredible option, I rarely think of doing it. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Mardene Carr
    January 7, 2016 at 9:13 am (3 years ago)

    I Love books and I get them free by reviewing for 4 great book review blogs. Reading is just awesome….love it

  5. Lauren Gaskill | Making Life Sweet
    January 7, 2016 at 11:56 am (3 years ago)

    I started getting into audiobooks once my work commute got long! They are such a great way to take in literature without actually having to sit down and read. (I love reading, but it’s nice to have alternatives!)

  6. Alonda
    January 7, 2016 at 12:33 pm (3 years ago)

    Love these tips! I too carry my books everywhere! I’ve been hesitant to try audio books but I may just give it a shot!

  7. andrea
    January 7, 2016 at 6:29 pm (3 years ago)

    i think that setting the time aside for reading is the ONLY way that I’m going to read books this year

  8. Carrie
    January 7, 2016 at 9:15 pm (3 years ago)

    Oh my goodness! I do the same thing! I carry books around with me WHEREVER I go so that I can HOPEFULLY read it! I LONG for those books! Love this! Thanks!

  9. Maria
    January 7, 2016 at 11:20 pm (3 years ago)

    #1 I love your book list. The Michael Hyatt one is on my list. #2 I fell in love with audio books kinda the same way. I’m a homeschooling Mom and I need to take my kids to therapy, sometimes the radio cuts out. I decided to be creative, since we spend two hours a day in our car, to play classics over the car radio on CD. I thought it would keep my kids quiet when I was on the verge of a migraine. I loved it! I found a new love for Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities” or “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. I’m listening to one on Celtic tales and it’s like my heart and my imagination are opening. Bring on the audio books cuz you can’t read and drive!

  10. Danielle DeVane Wells
    January 8, 2016 at 8:19 am (3 years ago)

    I love your suggestions for books! i’m always on the hunt for a new one! And i love the idea of audiobooks! I really need to get into that! Sometimes I just put the tv on for “company” around the house, but I think an audiobook might be so much more productive! Where and how do you buy your audiobooks?

  11. Kelly
    January 10, 2016 at 2:37 pm (3 years ago)

    I fell in love with reading again too due to audio books! I was back in school full, working part-time and had two young boys at home; so basically zero free time. My two hours of commuting everyday nearly killed me since I couldn’t do homework, housework, or spend time with loved ones during that time. I starting listening to books in the car and it was such a beautiful use of that time I was amazed it had taken me that long to start doing it! Love all your suggestions; sometimes I forget how much I need a book in my life at all times!

  12. Karen Grosz
    January 12, 2016 at 10:20 am (3 years ago)

    Great tips. I don’t do audio books because I also love podcasts so my audio is podcasts and I do the other things to make time for reading. Last fall I didn’t read much and I could tell my mood changed. Reading is my relaxation, my self-care.

    • carissashaw
      January 16, 2016 at 9:27 pm (3 years ago)

      I LOVE podcasts! Podcasts are one of my new favorite things.

  13. S
    January 16, 2016 at 8:35 pm (3 years ago)

    I started using OverDrive several years ago. You “check out” audio books through your library online and download them to your phone for a 14 or 21 day lending period. At first people would tell me “That’s not really reading!” But they stopped once they realized I was able to take in more books and my retention of the story was better than theirs generally. I definitely prefer having a physical book in my hands but being a busy working mom it’s not usually feasible anymore so audio is the next best thing!

    • carissashaw
      January 16, 2016 at 9:26 pm (3 years ago)

      OverDrive sounds awesome! I totally agree; I’d much rather have an actual book in my hands, but when life is super busy we have to get creative! I’d rather be taking in audio books than hardly any books at all.

  14. Ducks na Row
    January 31, 2016 at 9:40 pm (3 years ago)

    I do bring something to read whenever I get my hair done or have to go anywhere that involves waiting. In fact, I look forward to those times because it is so seldom I get to read!
    Sinea ♥

  15. Ann Kroeker
    August 22, 2016 at 2:16 pm (2 years ago)

    Great ideas, Carissa. So practical and do-able! I like a combination of physical books (my preference) and digital via Kindle. As a result, I usually have two or more books going at once, which isn’t ideal but allows me to read in one format or the other depending on what I have on hand. I need to bite the bullet and commit to Audible. I love listening to podcasts, but audiobooks offer so much depth.


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