“I'd like to read a book, but I just can't get into it.”
I can't count how many times I heard this from my colleagues, loved ones, and friends over the last few years. If this is what you're thinking, you need to learn how to focus on your reading habits.
A good book can help you relax, but what if you can't get into it?
Don't worry. You're not alone.
One pressing problem for the brain today is overstimulation due to a bombardment of information. According to Time Magazine, the shift to a more visual form of media intake has reduced our attention span to an all-time low of around eight seconds.
Now that we have a better idea of the scale of the challenges we face, I will offer some suggestions on how to get back into your reading mojo and focus.
Let's get started.
1. Time Yourself
The Pomodoro technique, a method of time management in which you divide your workday into 25-minute intervals, is one of my favorites. As per Forbes, here's a great rundown of how the Pomodoro Technique works.
Generally, the basic settings require 25 minutes of concentrated work followed by a 5-minute rest. Once you've completed four rounds of focus sessions, you'll be able to take a lengthier break of 10 minutes. When I'm having trouble reading, this helps a lot since I can give in to the distractions I can't seem to shake for a few minutes at a time during my breaks!
Reading without interruptions is easier when you set a timer, whether or not you utilize the Pomodoro technique. Knowing that the timer will go off at some point, I can concentrate on the task.
It works like magic if you ask me.
2. Start Small
And by that, I mean read just a little bit each day to get started. Suppose you last read a book a year ago. You may find it challenging to take up a lengthy novel and finish it in a week. Trust me– I've been there.
Hence, pick a shorter book and make it a goal to read a little from it daily. Get started with 10 to fifteen pages and see if you can expand it later.
3. Do some Simple Activities to Focus on the Now
Problems with concentration that have been going on for a long time (months, years) can be challenging to solve without going back to the basics. Some simple exercises may help you regain focus if you're having problems doing so.
A fantastic method to get some low-impact exercise and focus on the present now is to leave your phone at home and go for a walk to be mindful. Then, focus on your breath, and study the details of the natural world around you.
4. Intentionally Read for a Certain Purpose
Read something more than just aimlessly. It would be better to know what you want to accomplish. In addition to helping you concentrate better, this will speed up your progress through the content. Trust me. Concentration will come more quickly if your objective is clear.
5. Remove Any Distractions
So, how can you read without becoming sidetracked?
Your concentration will suffer if you keep thinking about checking your phone. If you keep checking to see whether there are any new texts, emails, etc., you won't be able to focus on what you're reading.
A good start is to activate Do Not Disturb on your phone. This will prevent you from receiving any notifications. Disconnect! It's unnerving at first, but if you stick with it, you'll witness how peaceful the world can be and how much clearer your vision will become. Avoid being interrupted by thoughts of things you need to accomplish before you can relax and enjoy your book.
6. Bring a Book to Read
It's become second nature to pull out your phone whenever you have a spare moment during the day. But what if you start carrying a book around instead?
The next time you have to wait for an appointment or have some downtime, you can put your phone away and enjoy some reading. Rather than reaching for your phone every time you have a moment of downtime, you can pick up a book and be amazed at how much reading you end up doing.
7. Try Audiobooks
Now is a fantastic moment to begin listening to audiobooks if this is your first time doing so. Around 45 percent of American adults reported having listened to an audiobook at some point. Sometimes it's hard to concentrate on a physical book, and that's when audiobook formats come in handy. So put on an audiobook while doing housework or taking a stroll yourself.
8. Enjoy a Cup of Coffee
I'm pretty sure you know by now how caffeine is one of the most effective stimulants available. The next time you decide to read a book, prepare yourself a cup of coffee to go with it! The central nervous system is stimulated by caffeine, making you more alert and able to concentrate. As a result, you'll feel less tired and more energized.
9. Optimize Your Diet for Greater Focus
Similarly, what you feed your body influences your ability to focus. While a sugar and caffeine boost can help you get through some reading, it's not a good idea to rely on them exclusively.
Changing your diet to contain less sugar and more protein is the most straightforward adjustment. This includes nuts, eggs, salmon, and lentils– all brain food. Additionally, food with monounsaturated fats (avocados, nuts, olive oil, canola oil, and peanut oil) has been shown to enhance memory and mental performance.
10. Try to Reduce Fatigue
I know that the inability to get enough shut-eye is a severe issue for many people. Whether you're a youngster who stays out too late or an adult who can't seem to shake insomnia, you've noticed the negative impacts of not getting enough rest.
Naturally, you will only be able to focus on your reading if you have gotten enough sleep. Reading is a great way to unwind, but it can be challenging to focus if you are tired. Ensure you get plenty of shut-eye before diving into your reading. Doing so will give you the concentration and attention you need to get through your reading.
11. Avoid Multitasking
In essence, multitasking is performing two tasks simultaneously but failing to give either one your full attention. Avoiding interruptions is a good place to concentrate on what you're reading. Suppose you set aside time to read; use that time to read. Then, you'll be able to give your undivided attention to the other task sometime later.
12. Try to Reduce your Stress
Distractions can make it difficult to focus on what you're reading. If you want to get rid of stress effectively, start by putting your worries on paper and making a conscious decision to deal with them. Remember that worrying serves no purpose and takes pleasure away from the here and now.
Start reading once you've calmed down and emptied your mind. It is an excellent distraction from my worries. Focusing on what you're reading (and maybe even enjoying it) is easier when your mind is uncluttered.
13. Listen to Music or Sound that will Help you Focus
For some people, listening to music that helps them be mindful allows them to concentrate better on the text. I always have some background noise playing during my reading sessions.
Pro tip: There are many high-quality, free options for white noise on YouTube. Browse through an extensive library of "soundscapes," including recordings of rain, a train, and a washing machine. When I am out and about, I switch to noise-canceling headphones to focus better.
14. Adjust your Reading Position
Unfortunately, if you like to read in bed, lying in bed is almost like signaling to our bodies that it is time to sleep. In contrast, when we read at our desks, we are aware that we have responsibilities, so we tend to focus on the task at hand better.
Maintain alertness by sitting up straight. If you form a habit, you may start noticing that your concentration improves in no time.
Maintaining focus while reading is a continuous struggle for many people. I know plenty of people in my circle who are still struggling to focus while reading, so if you're one of them – worry not. There is still hope for you!
Each of the tips I've made above is designed to make you more conscious of ways to enhance your reading experience. But remember that what works for some may not work for others. (You'll never know unless you try, though.)
Once you try any of the tips I've presented above, try your best to stick to them and evaluate how far you've come at one point. With any luck, your reading habits may start to look up for you!