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How to Read More - Plus 99 Things You Can do While Listening to an Audiobook

Reading is one of the original forms on content consumption. Millions of great people have put out millions of great books full of useful information and intriguing stories, yet somehow, many of us rarely, if ever, read. Most of us know we probably should read more, and quite a few of us really do want to read more, and it’s so difficult to fit reading into our busy lives. Reading more just isn’t a priority and too often it gets put on the back burner so we can pay attention to more pressing things. With all of the other things we have to do in our lives, how can we manage to read more? Read on.

I used to be one of those avid reader children. I always had a book in my hand, constantly picked up new books at the library, and often had to pretend to be sleeping instead of reading when my parents would come check on me after my bed time. I read voraciously. Then, I stopped.

Sometime around the end of middle school and the beginning of high school, I started getting busier. I had more homework, more friends, more freedom, more responsibilities. At the same time, smartphones started to get popular. All of this meant that I didn’t have time to read for pleasure, and when I did have a free moment or two, I’d pick up my phone instead of picking up a book. For almost the last decade of my life, through all of high school and college, almost every book that I read was a book assigned for a class. I stopped reading for pleasure.

After I graduated college and no longer had to constantly read for classes, I decided to pick up reading for pleasure again. And damn. I’m so glad I did. There are so many books out there with so many life-changing ideas and interesting stories. Reading is one of the few things that consistently brings me joy, and I never regret time I spent reading. Since picking up reading again, I’ve learned so much and felt so connected to others who put words to things that I didn’t even realize I was feeling. I picked up so many new ideas, made more sense of and improved my life, and found the courage to try big things. Reading is also great for escaping off into some other person’s world for a while before returning to real life.

Even with as much as I love reading, I still struggle sometimes to fit it into my day. I know that the books will always be there, so they get pushed to the bottom of my list of priorities. I often tell myself that I can read later, that something else that is “more important” needs to be taken care of now. In order to get myself to read more, I’ve found a few tips and tricks that I use in my day to day life.

The thing that has made the biggest difference for me on my journey to read more is audiobooks. I used to be one of those people who felt that audiobooks don’t count as real reading. And sure, if you’re really diving into the meat of something and need to take notes on it because you’ll be tested, maybe don’t read an audiobook. But for all other times, audiobooks are where it’s at. For fiction books, it’s very easy to get lost in a world when someone is reading that world right into your ears. I do occasionally pull out my phone to make a note of something that resonated with me in a nonfiction book, and if I really want to dissect the book, I can pick up a physical copy later, but audiobooks get all of that juicy information into my head in a very efficient manner. Audiobooks definitely count as reading.

Audiobooks are great because you can listen to them while doing something else that requires some attention, but not all of your attention. I’ve included at the end of this post a list of 99 things that you can do while listening to an audiobook. Audiobooks basically let you get two things done at once. I love to listen to them at the gym and while I’m driving. If you’ve got a book you really want to read, you can even use it as motivation to do that thing you don’t want to do. If you hate cleaning, listen to that book only while cleaning so that you’re more likely to get up and actually clean.

I get all my audiobooks from the app Libby. Libby connects to your library card and allows you to check out audiobooks from your local library, straight to your phone, for free! This app has changed my life. I don’t have to go anywhere to pick up a book, and the books just return themselves when they’re due, so I don’t have to remember to take them back to the library. Audiobooks make it so much easier to fit more reading into your busy life.

Schedule in a time to read. I actually put reading time onto my calendar so that nothing else can come up and take over that time. That time is me-time, and I have blocked it out. I’m much more likely to do things if they’re on my calendar and I can see how they fit into my day. Sometimes, I’ll push off reading because I think I have too much to do that day, but if I go in and actually schedule it all out, I’ll realize that I actually have an hour of down time before lunch that I could use to read.

Another important reason to schedule, especially with audiobooks, is that it’s easy to forget to read. Typically, unless something needs to be finished by a deadline, there isn’t a pressing reason to read right now and so we aren’t used to putting reading on our mental to do list. First of all, your to do list shouldn’t be mental. Write it down. Second of all, put reading on your calendar so that you actually know when you’re going to have time to read and don’t just forget to do it.

Some good times to schedule in reading are early in the morning, before your day gets started, before bed, and right around the time your mid afternoon slump hits, so that you can take a break, get some tea, and take a refreshing 20 minute reading break. If you’re going the audiobook route, determine which activities you plan to do while listening to the book, and note it down.

Start a bit at a time. If you’re currently reading a book a year, don’t decide today to start reading a book a week. It’ll be overwhelming and impossible to stick with. I’m pretty sure I say this in every post, but START SMALL. Start with ten pages a day. Start with one page a day if that’s where you feel you need to start. That one page will start to turn into five, then fifteen, then twenty five pages, and before you know it, you’re reading a book a month. But start small. Start with one page while you’re waiting for your bagel to toast in the morning.

Don’t try to read things that you don’t like. Reading should be enjoyable! Many of us get in the habit of reading things that we dislike because the only things we read are books we were assigned in school, many of which are boring or about things we aren’t interested in. You’re an adult who is reading for herself. Read what you like! I don’t care if something is a bestseller and your fourteen closest friends have told you that you have to read a certain book. If it doesn’t resonate, put it down. You don’t have to finish it.

Hijack your scrolling habit. I’m betting you’ve got a scrolling habit. Maybe it’s Twitter as soon as you wake up, Instagram right before bed, or Reddit during lunch, but most of us have some sort of scrolling habit. Hijack the habit loop (trigger - habit - reward), and replace the habit bit with reading. Whatever the trigger is - being in bed, waking up, waiting for someone, sitting on the couch, whatever - when you find yourself doing that thing and reaching for your phone, pick up a book instead. This is super easy with Libby, since you can check out ebook as well as audiobooks. Your scroll finger still gets its workout, and you get some new knowledge, instead of 32 more pictures of people’s coffee.

Make reading a part of your quality time with someone else. In my life, this works best with my partner, Bennett, but in yours it may work with friends, parents, whomever. Bennett and I love to have alone time, together. Basically, we spend a lot of time in the same room, but doing separate things. This is a perfect time for me to read. It’s quiet and won’t disturb whatever he’s working on, and I get to do something I love while spending time with someone I love. I realize that not everyone has this kind of relationship with someone in their life, but if you do, that together alone time is a great time to get some reading done.

Challenge yourself. In order to get myself to read more this year, I made myself a Goodreads challenge to read 18 books this year, and I am nailing it! Goodreads is a website (and an app) that’s great for keeping track of which books you want to read, what you’re currently reading, and what you’ve finished. It allows you to create challenges to read a certain number of books in a year, and then tracks your progress as you log books that you’ve read. I love a good challenge, so watching that progress bar fill up as I read is super satisfying to me. Plus, if you are frequently consuming content like mine, I’m sure you’re always getting book recommendations, and Goodreads is a great place to keep track of all of those.

Before I launch you into the list of 99 activities you can do while listening to an audiobook, I want to again say that audiobooks really have changed the way I read. They’ve made reading so much more accessible and easy to fit into my day. Most of the books that I read are audiobooks, and I wouldn’t be able to read nearly as much as I do without them. I cannot recommend Libby enough. Audiobooks make me so much more excited to go to the gym and have played a massive role in helping me get ahead on my reading challenge for the year. Regular old libraries are also great. My local public library is one of my favorite places to go. Support your library. Anyway, without further ado:

Ninety-nine Activities You Can do While Listening to an Audiobook

  1. Garden

  2. Cook

  3. Vacuum

  4. Drive

  5. Run

  6. Bike

  7. Lift weights

  8. Canoe

  9. Hike

  10. Paint

  11. Draw

  12. Decorate your home

  13. Shower

  14. Fold laundry

  15. Stargaze

  16. Camp

  17. Drink tea

  18. Re-organize your pantry

  19. Wander around Target

  20. Grocery shop

  21. Lie in bed perfectly still

  22. Clean out your closet

  23. Wash your car

  24. Wash your dog

  25. Sit on the beach

  26. Water your plants

  27. Paint your nails

  28. Stretch

  29. Yoga

  30. Get ready for the day

  31. A face mask

  32. Shovel snow

  33. Plant flowers

  34. Swing on a swing

  35. Go geocaching

  36. Konmari your home

  37. People watch

  38. Stare at the fire in your fireplace

  39. Scroll through Instagram

  40. Scroll through Twitter

  41. Go thrift shopping

  42. Have a picnic

  43. Sit beside a pool

  44. Cull your overflowing makeup drawer(s)

  45. Rearrange your furniture

  46. Go for a walk

  47. Sew

  48. Knit

  49. Crochet

  50. Cross stitch

  51. Plan your week

  52. Write a to do list

  53. Clean out your car

  54. Wander around a bookstore

  55. Plan a party

  56. Watch the sunset

  57. Bake bread

  58. Bake cookies

  59. Bake a cake

  60. Fly

  61. Wait at the airport

  62. Wait at the doctor’s office

  63. Get your hair done

  64. Ride the subway

  65. Drink wine

  66. Build a dog house

  67. Build a treehouse

  68. Shave

  69. Brush your teeth

  70. Text friends

  71. Pick apples

  72. Rake leaves

  73. Wrap presents

  74. Go to a museum

  75. Go to an art gallery

  76. Clean your laptop keyboard

  77. Feed your pets

  78. Pack for vacation

  79. Take Buzzfeed quizzes

  80. Make flashcards

  81. Pay bills

  82. Plan your meals for the week

  83. Pack your lunch

  84. Go through your inbox

  85. Get a tattoo

  86. Get a pedicure

  87. Get a massage

  88. Sit in a sauna

  89. Dust

  90. Clean the windows

  91. Do puzzles

  92. Play with Legos

  93. Check the mail

  94. Play games

  95. Homework

  96. Take a candlelit bath

  97. Scroll through Reddit

  98. Do the dishes

  99. Read this blog

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