Books are an important part of our intellectual and personal development. It doesn’t matter whether you use paper or electronic media. A well-read person learns and analyzes information faster and focus on reading, can use an impressive body of knowledge for work, and his brain is like a trained athlete’s muscles.
But many people can’t read long and carefully. They are distracted from the process by extraneous thoughts, noises, and the habit of switching from one thing to another. To know how not to be distracted while reading and focus on reading, you need to learn how to read correctly. In fact, it’s not that difficult if you follow some rules.
how to focus on reading tips
Move from simple to complex.
If the reader is distracted by extraneous thoughts and actions, this often serves as a signal that he has not yet made reading his daily habit. The brain doesn’t like to strain itself. Therefore, when you try to make it perceive information from the book pages, it immediately begins to carefully sabotage. It gives you tempting thoughts about interesting news in the social network feed, offers you to think about your future vacation or sleep… And the more complex the text, the more active the brain will try to “hook”.
Therefore, you need to develop the habit of reading gradually. Start with light non-burdensome reading, popular fiction. Over time, you can move on to more complex texts. The reading time should also be increased gradually. At first it maybe half an hour a day, then an hour, and then-and you will not notice how you read all weekend, forgetting to eat and sleep.
Take a break before reading.
You also need to be able to start a reading session correctly. If you have just been engaged in some complex mental activity, then for some time after completing the work, you will return to it with your thoughts. The head should “cool down”, thoughts should lie down. Relax for 15-20 minutes, don’t think about anything, listen to birds singing or quiet music, take a walk with your dog or sit with a Cup of tea in the garden, if there is one. Relax and complete the previous tasks, and then you will fully join in the reading process.
Do not eat while reading or read while eating.
I think this is understandable: if you do something at the same time, then neither one nor the other will really work. This applies to all classes, so if you have a habit of combining several things at once – fight. Your thoughts should be completely focused on what you are reading.
What should I do if noise interferes?
It often happens that it is not an internal monologue or disordered thoughts that interfere with concentration, but objective external factors. Neighbors watch TV, children squeal in the yard, cars drive on the street… There are various ways to deal with annoying sounds.
First, remove it. That is, try to minimize it – close the window, ask the neighbors not to make noise. And in the end, just plug your ears with earplugs. You can change the reading time by selecting the part of the day when there is the least noise around. You can interrupt, for example, by playing unobtrusive instrumental music.
However, some music also prevents you from reading, so this option is not suitable for everyone.
But the most effective method is to learn to abstract from the noise. To do this, you need to “disable” hearing, not analyze the sounds that reach your ears. Focus completely on the text, think about the characters and the plot – and the noise will stop being felt.
Force yourself to reread it.
Our brain is a tool for learning. This is not an independent unmanageable organism, but a part of you that you need to be able to subdue. When your mind tries to take your thoughts in a more pleasant and simple direction or “chews” some emotions, you just rush through the text with your eyes, without thinking about the meaning. So you can sit for a few minutes, staring at a book. If the brain trick works, you just put the volume aside.
The brain doesn’t want to read, it’s too lazy. So stop yourself, look carefully at the text, and go back to the place that you were still reading consciously. Re-read what you read with your eyes and try to make sense of it. Sometimes it happens that a paragraph has to be re-read many times. But this way you let your inner idler know that you can’t cheat and that you will still make him read everything in good faith. After a while, the habit of distracting from the text to an internal monologue will disappear, because the repeated reading of the same place will work as a punishment effect.
Perhaps the problem is complex?
Often, the inability to focus on reading is just a symptom of a more serious problem. It is called disorganization and lack of internal discipline. A person grabs one thing, gets bored quickly, and immediately takes up another, or even several things at once. This phenomenon is sometimes proudly called multitasking, but this lady with an exotic name is the twin sister of stupidity, and here the main thing is not to confuse.
You will have to think carefully – perhaps a person is distracted not only from reading, but also from work, and from everyday activities, and in general, can not really finish anything? If this is about you, then you will have to seriously organize your time and re-shape your attitude to your own activities. Learn to focus on one activity without distraction and finish what you started, work on setting goals and writing plans. But this is a different story…
How the brain remembers what it reads
Our brain has a limited amount of memory, and it has to constantly evaluate the importance of incoming information. Therefore, it is simply impossible to remember everything you read.
To better understand how this happens, remember the literature lessons at school. You can probably still describe the plot, characters, and even a few key scenes from the books included in the curriculum. But you forget what you read just a few months ago.
There is a simple explanation for this. You remember what you read in school, so you had to remember it. You had a goal to get a good score, and you knew that this information would have to be used in the future — in a test work or report. And the book you took with you on vacation only helped to kill time on the plane-that’s all.
The curriculum is specially designed so that you can connect new knowledge and consolidate what you have learned in practice. But the same thing is happening to you now: the more chances you have to compare the information you read with something, the better you will learn it.
This does not mean that you need to read only what you will immediately begin to apply in life. But if you want to remember something, you will have to define your goals and intentions.
How to prepare for focus on reading
You can be determined when you pick up a book. But you will still end up forgetting everything as soon as you turn the last page. To avoid this, you need to set up in advance.
Choose the right books
Our brain likes to pile all the knowledge in a pile to save energy and space. Therefore, in order for us to remember what we read, it must be special. And to do this, you should avoid these two mistakes:
- Read the same as others. The publishing industry produces a huge number of books a year. Add to the blog posts, articles, and research. It’s easy to get confused if you don’t make a personal reading list.
- Force yourself to read uninteresting books. So you’re just wasting time. As the research on expecting to teach enhances learning and organization of knowledge in free recall of text passages have shown, when you are interested in something, you are much more likely to remember it and be able to use it later.
Here are a few ways to help you choose the right book.
- Try following the advice of the mythologist Joseph Campbell: “the fewer borrowings in a book, the better it is.” This will help you get knowledge from the source.
- Look for books that are recommended by different groups of people — this approach is recommended by blogger and editor Kemarid Hai. For example, choose one that is offered to you by three friends from different professional circles.
- Listen to your inner voice if nothing helps. Choose books and articles that you are really interested in for personal reasons. If you find yourself falling asleep or checking your phone every two minutes, it’s probably worth continuing to search.
Understand what you want from reading
The next thing you need is a goal. Answer the question: why are you currently reading this book, article, or research?
There is nothing wrong with intending to just learn something out of personal interest. But if you want to remember this and use it in the future, it is better to understand in advance how you are going to apply the new information.
The importance of this step is confirmed by the following research: expecting to teach enhancements learning, recall. In it, all participants were given the same reading material. One group of volunteers was told that a test was waiting for them at the end, and another group was told that they would have to teach someone what they read.
As a result, both groups passed the same test. But the group of “teachers” did much better. Preparing to reproduce all the material in a high-quality way, they tried to systematize the information and remember the most important points better.
So try to set a clear goal before opening the book: this way you will better learn and remember what you read.
View the main parts of the book
Our brain likes new information, but it doesn’t ignore what we do all the time. Therefore, a quick look at the book and the so-called “preliminary reading” will help to fix in memory the material that you are going to take up.
In his work “how to read books”, Mortimer Adler explains that to remember what you read, you need to start with the “structural stage”. That is, not immediately start the first page, and get a General understanding of the content of the book. To do this, Adler offers to answer the following questions:
- Is this book practical or theoretical?
- What area of research does it cover?
- How is the book structured (not only the table of contents, but also other sections)?
- What problems is the author trying to solve?
Scroll through the entire book, read the titles, and a few random paragraphs. Review the list of references and pay attention to which sources the author refers to. Find the alphabetical index. Make a complete picture of what you are going to dive into.
How to read correctly and focus on reading
Not all of us were taught what is called active reading as children. Compared to the” passive ” process, during which you just mentally utter words, active interaction with the book is a work that requires reflection and, frankly, a lot of time. But it’s worth it.
Set aside time to read regularly
According to a study by the University of Michigan’s why Your Brain Needs You to Read Every Single Day, you need to read for at least 30 minutes a day. And it is necessary to do this not only in order to quickly master a large number of books. Scientists have found that systematic reading increases concentration, strengthens neural connections in the brain and develops emotional intelligence.
It is important that nothing distracts you while reading. Turn off notifications and use apps that block access to social networks and other sites.
Take proper notes
It is good when the plot of the book captures the head. But when it comes to learning and remembering, you can’t let your thoughts flow freely.
To avoid this, take notes. In the library, you would be killed for this, but it’s best to use marginalia – comments in the margins, end-to-end headlines, and outline ideas. This will make you a more active reader and help you remember information.
There are many ways to make high-quality recordings, but the main thing is to avoid the following actions:
- Select, re-read, and rewrite the text. Such passive methods are more useless and can even make it harder to remember.
- Spend more time creating notes and pointers than reading them. Records are only good if they are easy to use and you can quickly go back to them. Find a simple technique that will work for you personally.
Connect new and well-known ideas
In addition to notes, active reading involves building connections between what you are reading and what you already know about the subject.
To do this, when faced with new ideas, try to relate them to known facts — this will make it easier to connect the old and the new. Compare what you have found in the text with the knowledge you have already received.
For example, for Farnam Street blog founder Shane Parrish, the best way to create connections is to constantly update entries as you read. He notes in the margins his thoughts, questions, and, most importantly, the connection with other ideas. When he reaches the end of the Chapter, he immediately writes down all its main points, especially highlighting topics that can be applied somewhere.
What to do after reading it
At this point, you have done everything possible to understand, assimilate, and link what you have read. But long-term memory to a greater extent based not on the “read” of knowledge, while knowledge is “experienced”. So the main thing now is to turn information into experience.
Put what you’ve read into practice
Let’s go back to the example of literature lessons. You remembered what you read not only because you knew you had to use the material. And because that’s what you had to do. You wrote tests and reports and discussed these topics. You combined ideas from books with global themes and new ideas. But how often do you do this now?
One of the best ways to remember what you read is to find a way to use it. Tell a friend, share your thoughts online, write a short review of the book, and discuss it with someone who is not familiar with the work. Any practice will help you fix the view in your memory.
Explain what you read to someone
We have already found out that you will probably remember the material if you try to tell it to someone. It’s even better if it’s a child.
According to the Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman, one of the best ways to really learn something is to explain it in as simple words as possible. Use short sentences and avoid terms. Ordinary colloquial speech will make you really delve into the topic and not mask the incomprehensible with complex language.
Go back to your notes and organize them
When you put what you read into practice or explain the material to someone, you will most likely find places that you have forgotten or are no longer quite sure about. Here you will need all those wonderful notes that you have made.
Go back to the source material and your notes and check what is immediately obvious. Make sure that you simplify complex descriptions. Then organize everything in a concise and clear text-a short summary. What would you say about a book if you had only 30 seconds to do it?
The easiest thing is to throw a book in the far corner and say: “reading is not my strong point! But keep in mind that all rich and prosperous people read a lot, and no millionaire would prefer a TV or video game to a book. You just need to make a little effort to learn not to be distracted by reading and focus on reading, then this activity will bring you a lot of pleasure and benefit.