Find Time to Read: Five Simple Strategies for Busy Women

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As a working mom (or, really, all busy women), finding time to read is precious. I love reading, so it’s something I prioritize. It’s rare for any of us to have built-in lengthy blocks of time to read, but with some creativity, it’s possible to use “found time” to read every day.

Here are 5 sneaky yet simple ways to find time to read regularly:

1. Read while waiting in line

How do we spend so much time waiting in lines? There’s the grocery store checkout line, the carpool line, the cafeteria line, waiting the pediatrician’s office, endless at the airport, and so many more.

Waiting in line is a brilliant time to get a page or two in. You’ll be surprised at how quickly those pages add up!

2. Read while walking

You know this people who walk around looking like total nerds with their nose in a book? That was totally me as a kid. This habit faded some as a young adult when I realized just how odd it looked (and started caring!). The rise of the smartphone and reading apps means that it’s now ridiculously easy to read while walking.

Since everyone is staring at their phone, it’s not weird. Nerds everywhere, rejoice! Granted, most of them may be watching YouTube videos and trolling Instagram instead of reading books. For better or worse, it’s now fully culturally acceptable to walk around with your eyes on your smartphone.

If you’re not into the nose-in-a-phone look, this is also a great time to read audiobooks.

Bonus! You get in steps and can feel good about ‘exercising’ while you read. I’ve taken more than one stroll around the neighborhood to exercise with a primary goal of getting some reading time in.

3. Read while your kids do their homework, play or nap

While I love the Kindle app for out-and-about reading, nothing beats my kids seeing me reading a physical book. Back to that note about everyone having their eyes on a smartphone – like the rest of the world, my kids have no idea if I’m reading the finest literature or the worst fake news their is. I would rather model the importance of reading than the not-so-importance of staring at a phone.

Yes, family reading time often means endless Dr. Seuss read-alouds, but I can get in a few pages here and there while they are drawing, coloring, playing with legos or building forts (or, more likely, running around like wild men).

4. Read while driving

But keep your eyes on the road! 🙂 Audiobooks are a wonder for general driving and commute-time reading. I prefer to listen to nonfiction, so this is a great way to get in books that I might not otherwise prioritize.

RELATED: 9 must-read time management books

5. Read instead of watching TV

This one should be a bit of a no-brainer. If you’re looking for more reading time, and spending any time watching TV, simply swap out TV time for reading time. My husband will often watch a show he’s interested in while I read a book. We can still spend time together, but each get to prioritize the entertainment more important to us.

At this point, you may be thinking, “Sarah, this is great and all, but I’m on a budget. Where do I find all these amazing books and audiobooks for cheap or free?

Great question. Here’s how I do it:

Use these 5 fun and simple strategies to find more daily reading time. Great for kids, busy moms, women in their 30s (like me!), and anyone else who loves to read fiction or nonfiction. Great tips and ideas to finish your reading log, list or reading challenge.

How to find affordable ebooks and audiobooks

At the rate I read, the cost of books can add up quickly. Several years ago, after complaining commenting about how much my husband’s video games cost, I was quite shocked to discover that on a per-hour usage basis, buying books was more expensive than buying video games. In an effort at frugality, I read a whole bunch of terrible free ebooks before I wised up to the fact that there are much easier free and relatively cheap ways to acquire electronic reading material.

My current favorite ways to acquire ebooks and audiobooks are the public library, Scribd and Audible.

Not sure what Scribd or Audible are? Keep reading!

I use a combination of all three of these methods to read quality books on a regular basis. Here’s how:

Your local public library

It’s free! In a addition to physical books, most local libraries have fully embraced the ebook trend. I am able to go online and check out ebooks and audiobooks from a fairly large catalog of books. It’s rare that the library doesn’t own an electronic copy of something that I read.

I love using the library’s online reservation feature even for physical books. Since library trips are usually outings with my kids, it’s fantastic to be able to grab my own books from the hold shelf. Then we can quickly head to the kids section and avoid the inevitable running, shouting and “Mom, I’m bored” while I leisurely browse.

The one downside to library usage is that newer titles often have holds and the wait time can be fairly lengthy. I don’t often need to read any particular book immediately, but sometimes I’m impatient and don’t want to wait. In that case, I use one of the next options.


Scribd is essentially a “Netflix for books and audiobooks.” Users pay a monthly subscription fee (currently $8.99) for unlimited access to the entire Scribd catalog of both ebooks and audiobooks. Scribd has a fairly large catalog of new and popular titles, as well as older titles.

When I first signed up for a free trial month of Scribd (Scribd offers a free 30 day trial to new subscribers*), I wasn’t sure if I’d read enough for the cost to be worth it or not. I’ve found that it’s proven well worth it and am currently a paying subscriber.

In the three months I’ve had Scribd, I’ve read 4 fiction books, 2 nonfiction books, listened to 2 nonfiction audiobooks, 7 kids audiobooks and the numbers are still going up. Of the ones I’ve checked, over half of those are books that the library either didn’t have or had a waitlist for.

One potential downside, depending on your reading habits, is that many titles are only stocked in either ebook or audiobook form. There are a number of non-fiction books that I was hoping to read in ebook form that Scribd only has as audiobooks. This is good for my commute time reading, but not good for when I want to see words on a page screen.


My husband signed up for an Audible membership last year and has exponentially increased the number of books he read. He’s read more non-fiction in the last year than I have, which is saying something! Audible has all the titles we’ve ever wanted to purchase, and often has deals for additional ‘credits’ at below market price.

Audible is more expensive than the library or Scribd, but by paying attention to credit price and taking advantage of deals and sales, it’s possible to be strategic and save money on a per-title basis compared to buying at full price. Additionally, the benefit of owning titles ‘forever’ vs a subscription-based model is a big appeal for some people (i.e. my husband).


If all else fails, you can pay “full price” and buy your ebooks on Amazon. Some ebooks are cheaper than others, and Amazon has many daily Kindle deals. With patience, it’s possible to get what you’re looking for at a cheap price.

With these five reading strategies and four ways to find and get great books, what will you read next? 

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