How often do you find yourself distracted while trying to read? Instead of focusing on reading, you go over the same paragraph a dozen times with no luck. You may daydream, feel bored, or just give up completely. Whether you’re trying to read over documents for work, study for classes, or boost productivity with productivity books, there are ways to keep your focus on what you’re reading.
Create a Quiet Space
Some people have no problem reading in a crowded place with numerous distractions. But usually, they’re reading for pleasure. It’s easier to stay focused when you’re enjoying yourself. To focus on reading when you may not really want to read, you need to create a quiet space.
Remove as many distractions as possible. For instance, get up a half an hour earlier than everyone else to read or even do it before bed. Turn off your phone. If you’re reading on a computer, phone, or tablet, use distraction-blocking apps to help you stay focused on reading. You can even create a special space specifically for reading where it’s easy to get comfortable and focus on the words in front of you.
Clear Your Mind of Distractions
Even when you have a quiet space, your mind may still be filled with distractions. You’re trying to remember the dozen tasks you have to do after you read, or you’re struggling to figure out a stressful situation at work. Maybe you’re distracted about an upcoming meeting with a new client.
Instead of focusing on reading, your mind’s busy processing everything else. Take a few minutes to clear your mind just before reading.
Meditation is a great approach, though it doesn’t work for everyone. If that doesn’t work well for you, try making lists. Stop trying to remember what tasks you have to do by simply writing them down. Write down your stressors and a quick solution to each, even if that’s just “I can’t control this right now, so I’m letting it go.” Lists help you get everything out of your mind and on paper/app so you can focus.
This may go against the quiet space tip, but sometimes the best way to shut out distractions and even calm your mind is to play music. Not only does music actually drown out other sounds, but it’s been proven to help you focus and increase productivity. Naturally, you have to pick the right music for you.
Classical music, white noise, nature sounds, and even upbeat music are all good options. Try out some playlists to see what works better for keeping you focused.
Block Out Shorter Reading Sessions
If you get bored or distracted easily, try shorter reading sessions. It’s better to read for 15 minutes and take a break than try to read for an hour but continue to lose focus. Experts recommend that anyone struggling with ADHD adopt the 15-minute practice, as it can help reduce the urge to procrastinate. Since it’s a shorter period to commit to, your brain doesn’t signal that the task is something you have to avoid at all costs.
If you’d like to read for a little longer, try the Pomodoro technique. You’ll read for just twenty-five minutes at a time and take a break between sessions.
Take Notes or Summarize
Make your reading session feel less boring and more productive by taking notes as you read. Plus, if you’re reading something for work or school, taking notes makes reviewing what you’ve read much easier.
You could also read a set amount (pages or minutes) and summarize what you’ve read. Knowing you need to summarize your reading helps you stay focused. You’ll also retain what you’ve read better. Keep a piece of paper nearby or stick close to your computer. Spend three to five minutes summarizing after each reading session.
Use Visual Cues
Does it ever feel like all the words blur into one big blob while reading? It’s hard to focus on reading when you can’t even keep track of where you are on the page.
This is where visual cues, or pacers, help. Your eyes are naturally attracted to motion. Using your finger, a pen/pencil, or even an index card to track your place as you read keeps you more focused. You can also use specially-designed reading strips, such as:
- Zonon Guided Reading Highlight Strips
- Koogel 16Pcs Reading Guide Strips
- Domination Products Reading Guide Strips
- Luigi’s Dyslexia Reading Strips
Have a Purpose for Reading
Obviously, you already have a purpose for reading, but write down exactly why you’re reading at the moment and what the benefit will be. For instance, reading a technical manual for work may help you to gain a promotion and a raise. Or, reading a book for a class will help you perform better on a test, reduce your stress, and help you increase your overall grade.
Of course, willpower also helps you focus on reading. “The Willpower Instinct” will help you strengthen your willpower and create better habits.