Reading seems easy, especially when you’re just planning to do it. Doing it, however, can be a real stone in the shoe. If you don’t have a reading strategy, you’ve lost the battle before it even started. Here are the purposes of having a strategy;
- You foresee and plan possible solutions to forthcoming challenges
- It guarantees an orderly reading session
- Keeps your mind from wandering
- Makes you take your reading a little more seriously
The results of not having a strategy are the exact opposite of the ones above. The list of strategies before, during and after reading are not written on stone, but are the ones i believe to work for many people.
Before you start reading, there are a lot of things that you have to prepare, to make sure that your reading session won’t be interrupted. If all this seems stuffy, don’t worry. The magic starts to unwrap once you get used and make it a habit.
1. Schedule your reading time
Reading isn’t one of those things that you simply bump into when you feel inspired. The muse is never at work here.
This means you have to know the full details of when you’ll read, how long and how often you’ll do it, and fit it into your daily routine.
This will make it easier for you to form a habit out of reading and most importantly, enable you prepare other things whenever the time comes.
2. Get a good place
Location does a lot to how and what you’ll understand when you read. I mean, you can’t get your books out in a bar or at a festival and expect your brain to choose some silly words over loud exciting music.
Usually, reading is good in a silent place, whether indoors or outdoors, and one that’s fairly isolated or blocked so that other people won’t access and possibly interrupt. Examples include;
- A silent room
- In the garden
- By the river
- At the library
- Cemetery (kidding)
3. Eliminate distractions
In the modern world, we have so many distractions, and we have also aided in getting ourselves distracted all the time. They include;
- Our phones
- Video games
Literally everything can be a distraction, but some are worse than others. Distractions are one of the most important things you have to foresee because they can ruin everything you had prepared. Here are some strategies;
- Tell your friends/ family not to interrupt
- Turn the TV off
- Disconnect WiFi or internet
- Switch off your phone if necessary
4. Get some smooth music (optional)
Sometimes, plain silence may not be pleasant. There is so much music online that you can listen to. Examples include;
- Jazz music
- Soft piano/ violin music without words
- Lofi beats
However, the vast majority of people work with plain silence and if you’re one of them, just don’t force this music thing.
5. Calm yourself
One of the most important things if you want to read and understand everything you read, is to calm yourself down. Here are a few tips;
- Do some mini workouts
- Meditate for 10 minutes
- Do a little yoga
- Freshen up
- Breathe in and out slowly while you monitor your breath
You don’t have to do all this, because even one of them can be enough for you to calm yourself down. Once you start to read with a calm mind, you won’t be that easy to distract.
At this time, you have already prepared your body and mind for the exercise, and all you have to do is start. Below is the list of steps you have to follow to make sure your reading is fruitful.
1. Read at a steady pace
The first step to understanding everything you read is by maintaining a slow and steady pace. This will help you in the following ways;
- Your brain will process everything you read
- It’s easy to notice when you’re starting to lose focus
- Helps you dig deeper because you aren’t rushing.
Many people fall into the trap of trying to read fast, only to end up with almost nothing in their memory after a good couple of hours of reading.
Annotation is the underlining and addition of your own words where you want emphasis. Whether you’re reading fiction or non-fiction, annotation is important in helping you grasp everything you read. Here’s how;
- Makes revision easier, as you can easily identify what you annotated
- Helps you keep your ideas in the right position, especially if you have no pen and paper to note them down
- Helps other people understand and interpret easier when they read the book you read
However, you have to make sure that you don’t annotate in someone else’s books.
3. Take notes (optional)
Taking notes is very important as far as reading is concerned. This is because in your personal notes, you have expressed everything in your own words. This helps you memorize even better.
However, not everyone believes in taking notes right away, because they want to summarize at the end of it all to see how much they remember. But this all depends on your preferred study technique.
4. Don’t be afraid to go back again
Part of what makes reading very hard is the fact that you have limited control over your mind’s wanderings. Once you notice that your mind has taken a stroll aside from what you’re reading, feel free to go back again.
All you have to do is go back to where you last understood, and start there. Do it over and over and you’ll find your mind grasping it all.
5. Take small breaks
When people read and understand what they read, it’s not particularly because they have sat down for 10 hours straight and read themselves pale. It doesn’t work like that and actually, nobody does that.
Ideally, setting 10-15 minutes of rest every after 1 hour of study is one of the best ways to refresh your mind and get the mental strength to read and grasp a little more.
This isn’t compulsory, but water is the best refreshing and hydrating liquid we have. Just take a couple of sips and you’ll maintain the emotional stability you need.
After reading, all seems to be over, but it isn’t. You want to make sure you have understood everything you read, so here are a few things to substantiate your reading time.
What did you read? Look back and try to remember everything. Of course you might not be able to do that, but just try and see what your mind can recollect.
After you’ve tried remembering, don’t just recite. Summarize with the book closed and see how much you remember, and what percentage of the rest of the content it is.
After you have summarized, you are pretty sure of what you know well, what you don’t remember clearly and what you don’t remember at all.
Therefore, feel free to open the book again, patch the loopholes and repeat the same procedure until you’ve got all you need in your memory.
- Understanding is better than cramming
- Speed reading is a myth
- Depth is better than width
- Just because you haven’t understood something right away doesn’t mean you’re dumb
- Reading is more often than not, a solitary activity