How to squeeze non-fiction reading into your busy life

If you’re anything like me and love reading and learning, or quite simply need to read non-fiction books for information and development, you’ll know how hard it is to find the time to do it.

You have a long list of books you need to read, and you’re adding to it a lot quicker than you manage to go through it. So if you want to squeeze non-fiction books into your already-packed life, here’s how.

find more time read

1. Use an app – Blinkist anyone?

If you’re trying to narrow your list of favourite books down and decide what you want to read, Blinkist can really help you with this.

The app gives you key ideas from non-fiction books, distilled into powerful short reads (or listens!) for your mobile devices. Basically, you can read or listen to a non-fiction book in 15 minutes. No matter how busy you are, you can find 15 minutes in your day, can’t you?

And the fact that you can also listen to the books is just really handy. Think about the mornings spent standing on the train during your commute to work. You most definitely can’t possibly sit down to read a book in peace then, but you could always listen to it instead.

If you want or need to know more, you can always go and buy the book and read it cover to cover. What’s also really useful is that the app gives you recommendations for other similar books, so you can make an informed decision as to what you want or need to read next.

For a limited time, Blinkist is offering 42% off all annual subscriptions! This means that an annual Blinkist Premium subscription can be snapped up for just $46.39 (or just under £35 for us in the UK), instead of $79.99. The offer is valid until Monday 8th January – I’ll be signing up again for the second year running! Just click here to claim your discount!

2. Narrow your list down and make it realistic

It goes without saying that if you have a ridiculous amount of books on your to-read list, it’s going to take you some time to go through them all. But do you really want or need to read them all?

Sift through your list and pick a few – 3 to 5 to start with would be great. This way you know that if you don’t manage to read anything else, at least you’ll have these under your belt.

Hold on to that shortlist, and don’t get distracted by new entries. Or think of it this way – if something new comes in, something else has to come out. That forces you to prioritise and keep your list manageable and realistic. You’re one step closer to getting it done already.

3. Commit to your list and give yourself targets and deadlines

I know that this sounds terribly boring, but reading is like anything else. Unless you don’t commit and allocate and dedicate time to it, you won’t do it.

So you really want to read that book about parenting that your colleague recommended the other day at work? Great. Download it or go and buy it, and you’ve made the first step towards committing to read it.

Now set yourself a target: “I want to read this by the end of the month”. Carry it with you from then on, and every time you see an opportunity in the day, pick it up and read it.

4. Prioritise reading over other tasks

If you really do want to read, then you need to decide what reading is more important of. It’s probably not more important than turning up for work, having a shower or feeding your children. But it can (if you so wish) be more important than scrolling mindlessly through your Facebook newsfeed, half watching a TV series you’re not really into, or washing up if you can do that in the morning instead.

Sometimes we can be guilty of saying: “I just don’t have time to do X”, but we haven’t even made the faintest attempt at making time for it. And then can’t really complain, can we? Especially if we were just wasting time on social media because we were too tired to go and even fetch the book (yes, I’ve been there and done that).

5. Switch your habits around

So we established that some things you can’t do without. But there are times in the day when you can concentrate and read, and others that aren’t really appropriate for it (just before bed when you’re tired and need to wind down, for example).How to squeeze more non-fiction reading into your busy life

So you may find it hard to sit down with a book when your children have just come home from school demanding snacks and fighting over who gets to choose what to watch on TV. But during those times you may still get away with a quick round of tidying up or putting the washing machine on instead (once you’ve sorted the snacks and TV remote situation, of course).

Start noticing the moments of peace and quiet in your day when you can sit down and read, and grab them. Yes, I know that you have to do the hoover and last night’s washing up, but can you do them later perhaps? At a time when reading wouldn’t be possible?

Sometimes moving tasks around in the day can make space for new things – things that you wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.

Do you have any more strategies to help to find more time or opportunities to read? 

*This post was a collaborative effort with Blinkist, and it contains affiliate links. All ideas expressed in this post are my own.


  1. 22nd March 2017 / 8:53 pm

    I’m terrible at buying new books at a much faster rate than I can possibly read them. I need to be stricter with myself on this front. However, I’ve become more lenient about actually finishing them. At one stage I wouldn’t let myself give up on a book. Now, if my interest wanes I just allow myself to move on to something more interesting. Life is too short afterall.

    I’m currently enjoying ‘She Means Business’ by Carrie Green.

    • Sara
      23rd March 2017 / 12:45 pm

      I love books! I’d keep buying them too. I also don’t let myself give up on a book! 😉 I’ll check that book out – thanks for the recommendation!

  2. 23rd March 2017 / 6:27 pm

    I’ve never heard of Blinklist, thank you for the recommendation! Really useful advice, I find it so easy to put reading and development at the bottom of my to do list, and forget it needs to be scheduled in like everything else.
    Thanks again for the tips

    • Sara
      24th March 2017 / 5:46 pm

      I love reading so I try and squeeze it in, but you’re right – it’s just like anything else you want to do. It has to have a time and a place!

  3. Cheryl @ Tea or Wine
    23rd March 2017 / 8:44 pm

    Some handy hints in here thank you! I’ve always got a list of books on the go but most of them are fiction. You’re right about prioritising and making time for reading, it has to be done! #KCACOLS

    • Sara
      25th March 2017 / 4:51 pm

      Some of the tips do work for fiction too, although of course you might want to read fiction when you want to relax, so reading in the evening or before bed is something that you can do. And something that doesn’t really work for most people when it comes to concentrating on non-fiction. Glad you found some useful tips in here 🙂

  4. 24th March 2017 / 1:43 pm

    These are great tips. I always download books to my phone then can never find the time to read them. Listening to them would definitely solve this issue! #kcacols

    • Sara
      24th March 2017 / 5:44 pm

      It’s tricky to find the time! Try listening to books when you’re doing chores around the house 😉

  5. 25th March 2017 / 8:48 pm

    Listen to books in the car – I do a lot of driving people around, so once they’re delivered and I’m driving home solo, I listen to a book. Or take a book with you everywhere and while you wait, read instead of looking at your phone….while the kids are in their class or appointment, I try to sit and read for a bit.

    • Sara
      27th March 2017 / 2:34 pm

      Those are great tips Lydia! I do that too when I’m in the car on my own (which unfortunately isn’t that often!) and when the older too are at classes I have my 2 year old keeping me busy, but I see other mums reading! And I’m so jealous!

  6. 25th March 2017 / 8:59 pm

    absolutely love this post because it is so true. we DO have time. we were on holiday last week and I was amazed how much reading and crochet I got done. and why? because we had no wifi or 4g to sit and aimlessly browse bloody facecrap! downloading blinkist now! #KCACOLS

    • Sara
      27th March 2017 / 2:32 pm

      Ha ha – I like your new name for Facebook 😉 It’s true though – I waste SO much time on social media for NO REASON! And literally sometimes I find myself on it because I’m too tired to get up and do something else! And then wonder why I don’t have time to do that something else! Aaargh! Hope you enjoyed your holidays – sounds great!

  7. 27th March 2017 / 8:07 am

    This is really helpful. I love reading but never actually find the time to sit down and enjoy it. I haven’t read a book since before my first was born, 2 years ago. Before this I’d have had a few on the go at the same time! I definitely need to organise myself and get reading again! Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza, hope to see you again next week! xx

    • Sara
      27th March 2017 / 2:25 pm

      I’d definitely recommend Blinkist then, so you can listen to books while you do other things!

  8. 28th March 2017 / 6:23 pm

    Some great ideas here. I’ve gotten out of the habit of reading lately and really need to get back into it! Not heard of blinklisy before but will go and check it out

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS and I hope to see you back again on Sunday x

    • Sara
      29th March 2017 / 7:35 am

      If you do like reading, check it out! It’s worth it!

  9. 28th March 2017 / 10:15 pm

    I love reading both fiction and non-fiction books as often as I can. I try hard to alternate the two so I capture the best of both worlds. #Blogstravaganza

    • Sara
      29th March 2017 / 7:36 am

      That sounds like a great plan! Do you find that reading fiction at night before bed works better for you?

  10. 31st March 2017 / 2:58 am

    I love reading, but I’m a visual learner so audiobooks do nothing for me. If I listen to a book, it just doesn’t get absorbed at all. So, I can only squeeze in reading at night. #KCACOLS

    • Sara
      31st March 2017 / 4:50 pm

      That is a very good point! I really learn through writing things down to be fair, and when listening I have this urge to pause and write things down, but seeing that I listen when I’m doing other things or can’t sit down and write / read, I just have to let go of the urge. Some things will be retained I’m sure. But that’s a very good point you make! Thank you!

  11. 1st April 2017 / 3:07 pm

    I’m terrible at making time to read, it always seems to be last on my list of priorities. It used to be one of the first! Like the sound of Blinkist, I think I ought to do more non-fiction reading (apart from blogs!). #KCACOLS

    • Sara
      1st April 2017 / 10:21 pm

      Oh yes, blogs count as non-fiction reading too! 😉

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