How to Keep Reading When Life Gets Crazy

June 15, 2017 Discussions 26

How to Keep Reading When Life Gets Crazy


Life can get totally crazy sometimes…especially every May/June for parents of school age children (if you want more details, read this). All those permission forms to fill out, special events to attend at school, theme days to remember, and changes in schedule. It all makes my head spin.

Something like reading can be one of the first things to fall by the wayside during all the chaos. It’s a hobby for most people. It’s expendable.

I don’t know about you, but reading has a calming influence on me. So, it’s during these chaotic times that reading becomes even more of a sanity essential. Taking a few minutes here and there to squeeze in some reading does wonders for my patience, parenting, and ability to let things go.

So, how to keep reading when life gets crazy? Let’s get to it…

Carry A Book Everywhere

Ladies, I know you carry those gigantic purses all over the place! There is room in there for a book, e-reader, or tablet.

And, if you’re in the 1% of women that don’t go the gigantic purse route, I’m sure you keep your phone on you most of the time…keep an e-book on it! Which will enable you to…

Take Advantage of Small Snippets of Time

I think some people feel like they need large blocks of quiet time to do any reading. If I thought that way, I would literally never read. I’d love to have a couple quiet hours to really dig into a book, but that doesn’t really fit into my life right now. And, I bet the same goes for many of you.

But, a couple 5 or 10 minute increments can add up to an hour before you know it…

Here some places where you can squeeze in an extra bit of reading:

  • When you wake up before your alarm
  • During or after your workout (bet you’ll hold those stretches longer if you’re reading!)
  • When you arrive somewhere a few minutes early (i.e. picking up your children from school, meeting friends for dinner, etc)
  • During your commute…if you ride a bus or train.
  • During your lunch hour at work
  • While waiting in any line or waiting room
  • During your children’s after-school activities (i.e. soccer practice, swimming lessons…just look up when it’s your child’s turn!)
  • Before bed (I can’t fall asleep without reading)

Embrace Audiobooks

This one was admittedly tough for me, but when I finally figured it out I was able to add 1-2 books to my monthly reading! If you can find your audiobook niche (mine is lighter nonfiction), it will make mundane tasks a lot more enjoyable.

Tasks that can be improved with audiobooks:

  • Driving
  • Household chores (cleaning, laundry, organizing, yard work, paying bills, etc)
  • Grocery shopping…and putting away said groceries
  • Getting dressed in the morning / undressed at night
  • Cooking
  • Exercising (if that’s your jam…audiobooks tend not to work for me while exercising)
  • While doing mundane tasks at work that don’t require lots of concentration

Choose Some Things NOT to Do

This section is inspired by the eye-opening book The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight (whose subtitle is “How to Stop Spending Time You Don’t Have with People You Don’t Like Doing Things You Don’t Want to Do”), which teaches you how to de-clutter your life (rather than your house, a la Marie Kondo) and Episode 79 of the Sorta Awesome podcast, entitled The Awesome Freedom of the Don’t Do List.

We can’t do everything in life…or at least can’t do it all well. Especially over the last few years, it’s become clear that I have to choose a couple meaningful things to focus on doing well…and get comfortable with saying no to lots of stuff that doesn’t fall those buckets.

Things I don’t do:

  • Attend many weeknight activities…like Book Club (I know, this makes no sense!), wine nights, etc. I will occasionally grab dinner with a few close friends, but it’s literally like once a month.
  • Join volunteer organizing committees at my children’s schools. I’ve found that being on an organizing committee or in charge of really anything ends up taking far more time than you thought you’d committed to. Instead, I choose to contribute by being a pair of hands (chaperoning soccer, working a booth at Carnival, etc) and by providing items for various events (i.e. bottled water for Reading Celebration, etc).
  • Worry about keeping my house perfectly neat all the time.
  • Put on make-up or do my hair during the week (I literally don’t even blow-dry my hair unless I’m going out to dinner on a weekend).
  • Run a lot of errands. I try to do everything I can online so I don’t waste time running around town.
  • Shop. I genuinely don’t like shopping, so that makes it pretty easy not to waste time doing it.

Where can you squeeze some extra reading into your day?

And, what can you add to your DON’T do list so you can spend more time doing the things you love?

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26 Responses to “How to Keep Reading When Life Gets Crazy”

  1. Meaghan Gerard

    I bring a book with me all the time! And I often bring my lunch to work. We have a really nice view and a table out back so I spend the whole hour reading while eating. It really helps me reset for the afternoon.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Sounds like a delightful lunch break! And I love the reset partway through the day. Before I decided to stay home with my kids, I used to work out at lunch and it totally cleared my head and made for a productive afternoon.

  2. Aj @ Read All The Things!

    I always try to read for a few hours before bed. Sometimes I fall asleep, but I usually get at least an hour of uninterrupted reading time each night. That’s when I do most of my reading.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Me too (well, not a few hours…more like an hour for me)! But, I cannot fall asleep without reading first…no matter how late I get into bed. It helps decompress from the day.

  3. Susie | Novel Visits

    Great topic! I so agree about reading being a calming influence. When I was going through a really tough time in my life, escaping into books was the only thing that kept me sane. Whenever I’m feeling a lot of stress, reading helps me let it go and calm myself.

    Sometimes when I have a lot of other stuff to do around the house, I make a deal with myself: read one chapter, do one task… There are so many ways to fit reading into a day, but the desire has to be there. After a while, finding the time becomes habit.

    In part thanks to you, I have really discovered the joy of a great audiobook. I find myself singing their praises to others all the time! Next week, when I’m done with school for the summer, I’m going to have to try some of your tips so I can be listening when I’m no longer driving to work each day.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I’m so glad you figured out audiobooks…and you can listen to fiction, which I haven’t yet figured out! I think audio is all about finding your specific niche with type of books and listening times.

  4. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

    I like the idea of audiobooks, but I tend to lose focus (especially while doing other things), and then it’s hard to go back and pick up the thread…any hints about how to deal with this? Maybe I should work on my concentration.

    Anyway, great suggestions!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Haha! YES! I was this way with audiobooks for a long time. Finally, I figured out the niches (type of books and listening time) that were right for me. I figured out that light nonfiction worked well for me…and fiction did not (the same focus problems you had). And I first started listening to audiobooks when I was training for a half marathon…and that didn’t work well for me. I figured out that podcasts work better for me when exercising and audiobooks are better for driving, chores, all the other times I mention in this post).

      So I guess I’d say to try some easy nonfiction…and try listening during different activities than you had been…it’s a lot of trial and error until you find your personal niche.

  5. Karen Blue

    Great advice! I thought I wouldn’t have time to read once I started my full time job. It turns out that the hour long commute and lunch breaks mean I still have time to get loads of books read. I think it is important to find time to do the things that make you happy. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      You’re very welcome and so glad you found time to read in your new schedule!

    • Lory @ Emerald City Book Review

      Thanks – from my experience fiction definitely does not work for me in audio, but trying light nonfiction sounds good. I’d love to see some recommendations of good starter audiobooks in that category! (Maybe you did a post already about that.) I do like podcasts, too — I can listen to those while exercising.

  6. Catherine

    What a great post! When I was still working I had a long commute and it was the only way I read non-fiction. I’d fallen away from it, but have downloaded a couple of audiobooks to listen to while I’m on the treadmill. For me, that boring time so I love having something to listen to.

    I do the bulk of my reading before I go to sleep. It’s the best disconnect from the day.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Wait…you do the treadmill now?! When did that start?! And I didn’t realize you listened to audiobooks at all! Yay – another bucket where we can trade recommendations!

  7. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Okay I know that everyone thinks I’m a freak for this but I stand by it: I always read while I’m brushing my teeth. It’s another good way to get a few minutes of reading time in! And brushing your teeth is boring! And if you have a book you have a nice distraction that’ll keep you brushing for longer which is totally good for your teeth!

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Haha!! I love it! Fit it in where you can, girl! I audiobook while brushing my teeth.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Very smart! Sadly, my hair is so thin and not plentiful that drying my hair takes like 3 minutes.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      That sounds amazing!! If I ever had time to take a bath…like in peace.

  8. Michelle

    The biggest thing you can do to get more time to read? Not watch TV. To every person who has ever told me they don’t have time to read, I always ask them how many shows or movies they watch every night. Also, limit your social media to specific hours of the day. I don’t check social media at home in the evenings except for right before bed and then it is literally just a check to see what others have posted and that’s it. Not getting sucked into the screen is a huge way to earn back some time during the day.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      You’re so right about that! I watch an hour or so of TV at night, but I’m usually working on my blog at the same time.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Haha! No kidding! Camp started on Monday and it’s SO much easier…no packing lunches or snacks, etc.

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