How Busy Women Make Time to Read

If you’ve said to yourself, “I want to read more, but I just can’t find the time” this is post is for you. 

First of all, figure out which camp best describes your situation.

Do you feel guilty if you sit down to read before you finished your to do list? Are you just overwhelmed trying to juggle everything? Or do you struggle with decision fatigue and don’t know where to start?

Then take the steps to make more time for reading. 

If you feel guilty relaxing before your to do list is finished

  1. Put reading on your list. 
  2. Implement some hard stops. 
  3. Pair audio books with other tasks.

If you’re overwhelmed trying to juggle all the things

  1. Name What Matters.
  2. Plan your week
  3. Carry a book with you.

If Decision Fatigue is Paralyzing and You Don’t Know Where to Start

  1. Throw your phone in the ocean. 
  2. Decide about reading to escape or reading to learn. 
  3. Build an enticing book stack.

If You Feel Guilty for Relaxing Before Your To Do List is Finished 

Add Reading to your List

If it’s on your list of things to do, then you can check it off with a feeling of accomplishment and move on to something else.

Sarah Mackenzie from Read Aloud Revival recommends a 10 minute reading commitment.

This advice is based on a University of Sussex study that found six minutes of reading lowered heart rates and eased muscle tension.

Ten minutes doesn’t sound like much time, but, according to Sarah, 10 minutes every other day adds up to 40 hours per year. You can read or listen to a lot of books in 40 hours. 

Implement Some Hard Stops

Part of the problem of the to do list is that we never get to the end of it. 

Laundry and dishes, for example, are endless tasks that never stay done. 

Rosemarie Groner from The Busy Budgeter recommends one load of laundry a day, start to finish. No more ever. Having a hard stop relieves guilt. You know when you’re done for the day. You can relax in that knowledge. You can sit down without feeling guilty.

Pair Audio Book Listening with Exercising, Chores or Commuting

Coupling audio book listening with another low brain activity task is an easy way to redeem lost minutes.

I admit that implementing audio book listening has been a slow journey for me because I overwhelmingly prefer print. It took trying several genres to find one that could hold my attention in audio.

If You’re Overwhelmed Trying to Juggle All the Things

Name What Matters

         People around you have expectations. Some of them are legitimate, others are not. Everything feels important. 

The truth is, some things are more important than others. 

Take Kendra Adachi’s advice and Name What Matters. This is the heart of prioritizing.

Who and what are your top priorities? Which things will need to wait for another season of life or need to be weeded out completely?  

The genius of this advice is that you get to decide what matters to you. Your priorities don’t have to be the same as anyone else’s. 

She has a three steps process that I’ve found immensely helpful. 

First of all, you make a list of everything that could matter. All the possibilities. 

Next, you decide what does matter. 

Finally, choose what matters most. 

Name What Matters works for a given stretch of time. It also works for a topic. What matters most about reading? 

Is it time alone? New knowledge and understanding? Vicarious emotional release? Inspiration? 

Plan Your 168 Hour Week

Time management expert, Laura Vanderkam, talks about 168 hour weeks.

Look at a week at a time and give each hour a job to do, whether it’s exercise, sleep, rest, work or relationships.  

During a rest time block, actively avoid work and pursue activities that refresh you.  

Carry a Book, Ereader or Loaded Phone with You

Make it easy and convenient to pull out your book and read for a few minutes. If you load ebooks or audiobooks onto your phone, you’ll have easy access to them during down times like waiting in line or waiting for an appointment. 

If Decision Fatigue is Paralyzing and You Don’t Know Where to Start

First, Throw Your Phone in the Ocean”

This is Austin Kleon’s advice for how to read more. The idea, of course, is to stop scrolling, playing games on your phone and limit your texting.  Your phone can be a time suck that’s keeping you from worthy pursuits.

Life without your phone might not be possible. But you can fight the urge to waste time scrolling. Try Sarah Mackenzie’s tip— add wallpaper to your phone that says “Read instead”. 

Decide if you are reading to escape or reading to learn

Do you want to escape into fiction, learn from non-fiction or both? 

Reading to learn gives you dopamine hits every time an intriguing or exciting new fact hits your brain. Momentarily stepping into another reality by entering a story can reduce the anxiety you currently feel. Either one is a psychological boost that help you deal with the stresses of life. 

But acknowledging which one is most helpful to you makes the next step easier. 

Build an Enticing Book Stack

When you have a stack of books that you can’t wait to get to, time pockets will miraculously open up. 

Scheduling time for reading will become a non-issue. 

What do you want to learn? Which reality would you like to retreat to? Answering these questions will help you start to build your stack.

Looking for steps to build your book stack? Check out my post on the topic.

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