Advertising

Why Reading Word By Word Is A Bad Strategy To Better Understand An Idea

Why Reading Word By Word Is A Bad Strategy To Better Understand An Idea
Advertising

You may not realize it, but we all read very often in our daily life. We always want to go through all the documents faster at work; we just want to find out the main point of all the long letters and notes from the government or any kinds of organizations quickly; even when we read for leisure, we’d probably be traveling on the bus and just want to finish the current chapter as soon as possible. Yes I get it, you want to read faster without missing the gems.

But is speeding up your word-by-word reading what you should do? The answer is definitely no.

Advertising

Reading word by word slows you down from processing the idea.

When we read, our eyes normally stop on each word. We call this fixation. It is a bad idea to stop at every word in the text because it slows down the reading speed and may even affect our ability to understand the text.[1]

Advertising

Language would not have worked without a context. It is true that every word has its own literal meaning but what makes it alive is the context of the text. With the same word but in different contexts, it expresses different contextual meanings, revealing different meanings behind the word. Instead of reading every single word, understanding the context is more important. By having the context in mind, you know what kinds of words you should pay attention to more.

Advertising

Try to read phrase by phrase instead.

English readers can read roughly two or three words at a time, so instead of stopping at every word, you can stop at every three words. Ideas are not made up of a single word. Being able to read a text phrase by phrase instead of word by word even helps you to understand the idea better.

Advertising

Skim for the keywords only.

Words play different roles in a sentence. Some are more meaningful while some are less. When our eyes do not stop on each word anymore, we can try skimming to absorb the more meaningful words and ignore those which are less meaningful. What makes a sentence complete is a subject and a verb while all the other elements are only complementing the sentence. For most of the time, you will not have any difficulties in understanding the text despite absorbing the keywords only.

Remember, ideas are bigger than words.

Ideas are made up of words. When you stop reading word by word and focus more on the idea you’re trying to understand, you will read faster. While speeding up reading can increase your productivity at work, it allows you to enjoy reading more!

Advertising

Reference

More by this author

Sheba Leung

Translator. Sport lover. Traveler.

How Self-Motivation Can Be Easier When You Find Your True Calling How To Stop Being Lazy By Overcoming Your Biological Limitations The Only Guide You Need for the Best Movies to Watch How to Get Your Great Ideas Heard with Just One Page of Proposal Everything Is Neutral, Whether It’s Good Or Bad Is Attached To What You Think

Trending in Productivity

1 How To Boost Employee Motivation During Difficult Times 2 7 Effective Ways To Motivate Employees in 2021 3 How a Project Management Mindset Boosts Your Productivity 4 5 Values of an Effective Leader 5 How to Motivate People Around You and Inspire Them

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
Advertising

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

Advertising

From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

Advertising

The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

Advertising

But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

Advertising

Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Advertising

Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

Read Next