We have some news: Attention spans are shortening around the world.
It might be scary, but it’s the truth — and we’re here today with some tips for improving and maintaining your focus.
Thanks to the advent of mobile devices and social media, it’s harder than ever to sit down with a good book and enjoy a story, study for a test effectively, or simply read for recreation without a vibrant screen floating before your eyes. Despite its reduced importance, reading is still a great way to relax, expand your mind, and learn new things.
But it’s harder than ever to focus on reading with the myriad distractions constantly demanding our attention. Today, let’s look at nine tips and tricks you can leverage to focus on reading better than ever before.
Set a Time To Read Each Day
The best way to learn new good habits is to set aside time to practice them. We are all creatures of habit, and carving out a little bit of time to read each day will gradually get your mind used to the activity even if it would initially rather spend time scrolling through social media!
With that in mind, if you want to get better at focusing during reading and/or reading more consistently, read at the same time each day. This can be before bed, or, more ideally, shortly after you wake up when your mind is fresh. Dedicate the best part of the day to reading and you’ll grow to love it in no time.
Read a Certain Number of Pages or Chapters Each Session
But what about if you have to read through a fairly large book with lots of content? Many college students run into this problem when they are assigned a book to read in a certain amount of time. The best way to focus on reading, in this case, is to commit to a certain number of pages or chapters for your reading session.
Say that you plan to read for a half-hour. You should also plan to read 20 to 50 pages depending on your reading speed. Don’t stop until you hit your goal.
Again, this creates a positive habit that your mind will come to expect given enough time. Sooner than you think, you’ll come to unconsciously expect to read a certain amount of text, and will find it easier to soar far above this goal and read more than ever before.
Even the most avid readers must still give their minds (and their eyes!) a break from time to time. Therefore, to focus on reading more efficiently, give yourself a break. It’s counterintuitive, but it’s true.
Every half hour or so, give yourself 5 to 10 minutes to do something else, even if it’s just looking outside or looking at something else. This will prevent eye strain, but it will also help your brain enjoy reading if it’s difficult for you to get into a book right now. The key to building a good reading habit is not overwhelming your mind.
However, you shouldn’t take breaks by immediately reaching for your mobile device and reading the Internet! Similarly, don’t turn on the TV. These are ways to distract yourself and prevent yourself from completing your reading session.
The best distractions either include spending time in nature or performing physical tasks with your hands. In this way, the reading part of your brain will remain somewhat engaged rather than being distracted by the endless stream of content you can get from the Internet and social media sites.
Read in the Right Environment
Reading in the right environment is key if you want to focus consistently. Therefore, you should read in relatively quiet environments at first, such as at your kitchen table or away from your television screen. Read with plenty of light so that your eyes don’t become tired too soon, and try to read in a place where there’s lots of natural light so your brain feels at ease as you scan through the pages.
In keeping with the above advice, you should also avoid distractions during your reading sessions. That means:
- Removing your cell phone or turning it off
- Not turning on the TV while reading
- Reading in a room or environment where others aren’t being active or distracting
If you really want to learn to read well and focus during extended sessions, you need to take reading seriously. Treat it like you are practicing any other skill, and you’ll find that you become better at it sooner rather than later.
Exercise Before Reading
Lots of people become a bit stir crazy when reading for longer sessions. You can focus on reading even if you have to cram for a test by doing a bit of exercise beforehand. Go on a walk, a run, or hit the gym for a short session, and you’ll find that reading is a lot easier since your mind will crave a rest from physical activity.
Plus, you’ll find that you aren’t as twitchy or stir crazy when diving deep into a book if you have exercised beforehand.
Use a Pointer When Reading
What if the book in question is filled with dense text in a small font, as is the case with a lot of textbooks? In these situations, it may help to use a pointer, like a pen or pencil.
Don’t feel silly doing this! Lots of people read more effectively when using a pointer. Follow the text with your pointer and your eyes at the same time, and it will be much easier to keep track of where you are without getting lost. This will also help you focus and absorb the material more easily once you get used to the technique.
Read What You Like!
You can do yourself a massive favor and focus on reading more easily by only reading books you like! Of course, this advice isn’t very useful if you are assigned a book or two for a college class. But if you’re reading for fun or personal education, don’t force yourself to read a book that seems dry or uninteresting.
Don’t beat yourself up for not liking one book over another. Everyone has different preferences, and when it comes to reading fiction or reading nonfiction for fun, you should only read what you think you’ll enjoy for the effort.
If everyone is ranting about a new novel, for example, but it doesn’t interest you, pick up a different story instead. You’ll enjoy your recreation and your reading experience much more and find it easier to focus as you read.
DNF Books You Don’t
By the same token, feel free to “DNF” or “do not finish” books that don’t gel with you. Sometimes, we pick up a book and give it a shot, only to find that something about it, such as the writing style or the content matter, just isn’t working for us. That’s okay!
The worst thing you can do for yourself as you learn to focus on reading is to force yourself to read text that you don’t like. Fiction books, nonfiction texts, and even dry research papers can be mind-numbing or difficult to get through, depending on their content or the author(s).
Don’t force yourself to finish books that you don’t like. Instead, skip them in favor of books that seem more your style, whether those books are in a different genre, have different subject matter, or are written by an author you already know and love. We all have a limited amount of time to enjoy books, and you’ll never be able to read everything ever published. So don’t try! Just read what seems worthwhile to you.
Reading is great – learning to focus and absorb the material you read is even better. As you learn to read with focused intent, you’ll enjoy the activity much more than before. You’ll be able to master school materials more easily and enjoy novels as an excellent form of recreational entertainment, plus have a little less screen time in the long run (always a good thing).
In short, learning to focus on your reading can improve your wellness in more ways than one. At 1AND1 Life, we’re dedicated to helping people just like you boost their wellness through supplements, health guides, and tips and tricks.
If you want to know more about how you can get 1% better every day, check out our blog or visit our online store for holistic wellness products.