Using Audiobooks To Turn Monotony Into Memory

pablo-4I’ve been a big proponent for audiobooks ever since I started my first job senior year of high school working at the University of Texas library. My job consisted of shelving books and occasionally doing work even less complicated than that such as putting little red stickers on the spines of books that belonged in the engineering library which was undergoing renovation at the time. I liked this work but I immediately knew that I was going to have to find some way to entertain myself if I wanted to avoid growing to hate the job.

Luckily, it was common practice to listen to music while working. It wasn’t long before I came up with an idea to maximize the use and enjoyment of my time in the library using my phone and earbuds. I like music, but I’m not the type of person who considers listening to it a productive use of time. So instead I decided I would listen to podcasts. Because of this I was suddenly logging 16 hours a week of podcast time and was quickly burning through all of my normal favorites. I’ve listened to an obscene amount of Freakanomics and The Broad Experience. I soon figured out that, yes, it was quite possible to get caught up on podcasts even if they had been around for years. It wasn’t long before I started yearning for something to supplement my podcasts. I needed new material to listen to. I finally made an audible account with the free trial that is offered to all new members, and hooked my debt card up to it. Audible would be the first subscription service I signed up for and one I wouldn’t even consider canceling for years to come. (In fact, being absolutely and completely broke is the only reason I did end up eventually canceling it.)

Soon, I found myself going through an average of a book a week, but often times I would get so absorbed in the stories that I needed more listening time outside of work. I suddenly saw mundane boring tasks as opportunities for self education and entertainment, and I was always looking for new opportunities to listen to books. I started listening to them on the 30 minute commute to work, the walk to the library, my lunch break, and the two hour long round trip commute to school. I would look up lists of how other people listened to their audiobooks in hopes of inspiration. I found myself enjoying things I never had before, like doing the dishes or the laundry. So, finally, I’ve decided to put together a list of some of my favorite moments to listen to audiobooks.

1. Doing the dishes.

Nothing makes doing the dishes funner than being able to listen to a great story while you do it. I’ve taken to washing my dishes by hand this past year, and it’s much less frustrating when the time doesn’t feel like a waste.

2. Commuting to work or school.

Depending on how far away you work or go to school, you can get a lot of listening done in this time. I’m not only talking about the car ride: I usually start listening to my book while I’m getting ready (see #7) and this continues through the car/bus ride into the walk through the parking garage or across campus. I also love listening to audiobooks walking from class to class, those 15 minute walks really do add up.

3. Exercising.

I personally find it a little difficult to listen to audiobook during exercise unless it’s part of my commute (walking or biking). However, I have had fun listening to Game of Thrones while I run on a treadmill. It just give me a sense of purpose. I like to imagine myself training for something more important than bikini season.

4. Doing your laundry.

Another one of my favorites, laundry is ideal for listening to audiobooks. I used to try and watch TV while I did mine but it was too distracting to look at the screen. This is just the right amount of boring to never distract you from your book.

5. Cooking.

Depending on what you’re cooking and how good of a cook you are, cooking is another great easy chore that can be supplemented with audiobooks. However, if you find yourself getting distracted by having to follow a recipe or measure things out let yourself turn off your book so you don’t miss key parts of the story.

6. Cleaning.

This is perfect for general cleaning, just pop in your earbuds and wonder around the house tidying up while you listen.

7. Getting ready in the morning.

If you’re like me, you can easily spend an hour getting ready in the morning. Sometimes I can actually feel guilty about spending 30 minutes doing my makeup to perfection but if I let myself make progress on my book it doesn’t seem like such a bad use of time.

8. As you fall asleep.

This is one I’ll sometimes do, the key is to either do this with a book you’re relistening to or to turn it off once you start losing focus or really falling asleep. You don’t want to wake up to a finished audiobook that you were asleep for the last seven hours of! Check your starting place, or even bookmark it, just incase you fall asleep.

9. When you’re eating.

A lot of people don’t like eating alone. If you can’t find the company of a good friend, why not enjoy the company of a good book?

10. Cleaning your email.

This is a favorite of mine, I’m always letting my emails build up. The other day I knocked out deleting 2200 emails while listening to a book.

11. Working on craft projects.

At the end of a few hours you’re left with some more knowledge and something to show for it! This is great for those who love to craft, or have to craft. You’d be surprised by how much crafting is expected of college aged girls even if they do avoid joining a sorority!

Whenever I think of The Godfather or Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young girl I’m immediately transported back to the U.T. library, quietly shuffling between shelves as I was immersed in the worlds of both fiction and nonfiction. The beautiful thing about audiobooks is that they allow you to listen to a story while still experiencing a part of life. In this way they remind me a lot of music. They have an ability to hold memories in a way that is just a little different than any other medium. I was so entranced by the stories that it made the most mundane aspects of my life come into focus, and still those moments are some of the ones I remember the best. The salad I would have at the art museum down the road, the squirrels I would feed despite knowing I shouldn’t, my throbbing feet after walking between bookshelves for eight hours… All of these things are still alive in my mind long after I’ve lost memories of the conversations with friends, the drama of everyday life and the painful adjustment that is adolescence.


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