Recently I’ve included many more audiobooks in my reading list, which has increased the total books I’ve read by over 33%. This acceleration has been partially motivated by wanting to reach a target of 80 books per year and also after listening to Atomic Habits by James Clear. Some of the strategies may seem obvious to seasoned audiobook fans, but I’ve found some other surprisingly effective times to listen to my audio library.
I generally prefer to have both a fiction and a non-fiction audiobook available to listen to each month as I find they suit different listening scenarios. Non-fiction audiobooks are perfect for short bursts of activity because they require more focused attention and rely less on narrative flow. Fiction audiobooks are better for longer stints where you want room to let your imagination run wild.
I’ve included the estimated amount of reading time gained under each suggestion. It’s amazing how quickly these can accumulate, especially when listening at 1.5x speed. If you’re new to audiobooks, you might also find our post 8 Top Tips for Enjoying Audiobooks useful.
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1. Listening to audiobooks when waiting for others
It can take hours for our entire family to prepare for leaving the house so instead of losing patience, I listen to audiobooks instead. In this case, I tend not to listen through earbuds so that I can keep tabs on what’s happening. The same goes when I’m waiting for people to show up.
Reading time gained: 2 to 15 minutes
2. Absorbing audiobooks while doing anything laundry-related
We share laundry duties in our house, but if it’s my turn, I make sure I have an audiobook to hand, particularly when hanging out washing, folding and putting away clothes.
Reading time gained: 10 to 20 minutes
3. Tuning into books while waiting for your laptop to start
Bizarrely, this is one of my best times to listen to audiobooks because my computer is incredibly slow at the moment. I wasted lots of time before starting this new habit (as well as getting very frustrated) and find that including audiobooks has been good for my blood pressure and productivity. This tip also extends to any lengthy tech waiting time.
Reading time gained: 5 to 15 minutes (yes really!)
4. Commuting to work
My commute takes about 20 minutes so I can easily fit in 30 minutes of listening time during the day. This really helps if I’m learning about a work-related subject or focusing on self-development. I recently listened to Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed on this journey and it generated lots of useful reflections.
Reading time gained: 30 minutes
5. On the exercise bike
I only do 15 minutes a day on the exercise bike at the moment, but figure that this is better than nothing, especially when I combine the workout with an audiobook.
Reading time gained: 15 minutes
6. On long journeys
I always have wildly unrealistic ideas about how many physical books I’ll read while on holiday, but this overestimation is generally balanced out by the audiobooks I listen to on the way to and from my destination.
Reading time gained: 1-5hrs+
7. Walking the dog
When walking the dog in a well-lit area with little traffic, I’ll often plug into a good book. This only goes for routes that don’t need as much vigilance. I wouldn’t do this in the woods or near busy roads, for instance.
Reading time gained: 30 minutes
8. Cleaning the house
There’s no doubt that listening to audiobooks makes household chores a lot more bearable and for some bizarre reason, adding them into the mix seems to cut the overally cleaning time down.
Reading time gained: 10-45 minutes
9. Making food and drinks
Another no brainer. I listen to audiobooks even if I’m making a cup of coffee, but I do prefer to do this when I have the kitchen to myself to avoid interruptions.
Reading time gained: 5-50 minutes
Admission – I don’t do a lot of gardening, but if I’m weeding or picking veg, I’ll have an audiobook to hand.
Reading time gained: 15-45 minutes
11. In the bath
Bathtimes are ideal for immersing yourself in a fiction audiobook because they allow for long periods of relaxation and escapism. Rather than using earplugs, I listen directly to my phone and keep it on a surface away well from the water.
Reading time gained: 20 minutes to 1hr
12. While alone at coffee shops and cafes
It’s real pleasure to enjoy an audiobook with coffee and cake at a cafe. Where possible, I choose a window seat and watch the world go by.
Reading time gained: 30 minutes to 1hr
Although some audiobooks seem endless, if you get into the habit of listening to them at certain moments in the day, particularly when you’re doing something that doesn’t need concentration or when hanging around waiting for something to happen, it’s much easier to make progress. Even better than that, you actually feel as if you’re being productive rather than wasting precious time.