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15 Ways To Help You Read More

15 Ways To Help You Read More

Are you able to get through all the reading you planned this year? Do you ever want to read more but don’t seem to have the time?

Here are 15 ways that help you read more this year.

1. Define Your Purpose for Reading

Before you start reading, ask yourself why are you reading this book. Most people read for two main reasons – pleasure or knowledge.

Being specific and clear about your reading purpose not only helps you to eliminate books that you don’t need to read. It also reminds you why reading the book is important to you as you are reading it. This motivates you to keep reading and complete the book faster.

2. Read Only What You Are Attracted to

Whether you are reading fiction or nonfiction, it’s important to enjoy what you read. Your friends may recommend books that they love, but those books might not necessarily be the ones you enjoy.

Don’t read for the sake of reading. Reading shouldn’t be another task in your to-do-list to be checked off. Reading books that you think you “should” read or which you think are good for you will slow down your reading process if you have no interest in it.

Instead, find books that spark your interest and curiosity. You’ll find yourself reading these books faster.

3. Feel Free to Skip Pages

When it comes to reading for personal pleasure and knowledge, you set your own rules. Don’t feel guilty about skipping pages. You don’t need to read all the pages in a book. It’s not cheating!

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In fact, skipping pages is more productive. It helps you move through boring or irrelevant parts quicker. You don’t waste time reading something that doesn’t serve you.

4. Give up Books That You Don’t Enjoy

You may have selected books that are aligned with your purpose. You may have selected books that you are attracted to. But as you are reading them, there may still be some books that you won’t enjoy reading.

Whenever you realize that you aren’t enjoying the book you are reading, give it up. Remember reading shouldn’t be a chore.

Giving up doesn’t mean that you are a quitter. Giving up books that you don’t enjoy reading actually frees up your time for books that you would enjoy.

5. Set a Reading Goal

Having a reading goal helps you figure out how much reading you need to do in a week or even a day.

For example, this year, my reading goal is to read 100 books. Since there are 52 weeks a year, each week I need to read at least 2 books. Having a reading goal allows me to strategize how much time I need to allocate each day for reading and it helps me to decide what information I need from each book.

Instead of dabbling in reading and hoping to find something useful to you, come prepared with a set of reading objectives. This helps you focus on specific parts of the book and find information that is useful to you when reading.

6. Give Yourself a Deadline to Complete Each Book

Before you read each book, ask yourself when you need to complete this book by.

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What I find interesting is that I tend to read books that I borrow from libraries faster than the books I bought. The reason is the books I bought don’t have a due date! I don’t need to return those books. So I can take as long as I want to read those books.

When you don’t set a deadline to complete your book. There isn’t a sense of urgency. And when something isn’t urgent, you tend to procrastinate and your books get left on the shelves untouched and unread. So setting a deadline is important.

7. Make Reading a Part of Your Daily Routine

If reading is important to you, no matter how busy you are, you will find and schedule time to read.

Making reading a part of your daily routine removes the hassle of finding time each day to read. Allocating a fixed time to read each day reduces procrastination. It’s also easier for others to know your reading schedule and not to disturb you when you are reading.

8. Prepare Your Reading List in Advance

To keep your reading momentum, always have the next book ready. Don’t wait untill you have completed all your books, then find the next book to read. You’ll waste unnecessary time trying to find the next book.

Instead, prepare a reading list in advance. List all the books you want to read. Add books that are recommended by your friends and family. Go to your local bookstores and see what intrigues you. You can also find a list of recommended books suggested by bloggers on their websites.

9. Use Your Free Time

Reading in the morning before you start your work or reading at night when you are winding down are the best times to read. At these time, you won’t get caught up in the daily distractions that interrupt your reading.

However, if you want to maximize your reading time, try carrying a book with you wherever you go. There will be times during the day when you are free or waiting in queue. Use this time to catch up on your reading.

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10. Find a Quiet Place

Reading requires focus and concentration. If possible, find a quiet place to read.

Reading in a quiet environment increases your comprehension. You don’t get disrupted by external noises. You don’t have to reread previous pages and paragraphs to recall what you have just read.

So choose a good environment in which to read. Switch off your phone or put it away. Close your door if necessary. You read more in one hour of focused reading than in three hours of interrupted reading.

11. Get Some Context First, If Possible

Sometimes, if you watch the trailer, read the synopsis or follow some of the online content that the author has been providing, you are able to get into the author’s world much faster.

You won’t have to spend as much time establishing the context or understanding the characters in the beginning.

12. Read for Meaning, Not Words

Have you experienced times when you are just reading words, but not comprehending anything that the book says?

Reading a book word by word isn’t an effective way to read. Some words such as “a”, “an” and “the” don’t add any meaning to what you read. Your brain is smarter than you think it is. With just a few important words, your brain can devise meanings and comprehend what the author is saying by tapping on your prior knowledge and experience.

Furthermore, reading word by word is boring unless you are reading to appreciate the author’s use of language. Instead, allow your eyes to scan the page and pick up words that help you form meanings.

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13. Read in Layers

Reading in layers is especially useful for nonfiction readers. Instead of reading your book once through in detail, read your book with multiple passes. 

So for example, your first pass could be just browsing the book, reading the content page and some of the headers to get the overall big picture first. Then your second pass could be selecting specific sections of the book you need more detail in and zooming in on them.

Before you start each pass, decide if you need more detail. Sometimes, you are able to comprehend the information without needing to read the examples. Other times, some information might not apply to you now. So you don’t need to read everything in detail.

14. Keep an Open Mind While Reading

Don’t critique the author while you are reading the book. Arguing with the author as you read lowers your comprehension. You can always disagree with the author after you have completed the book.

Also, spotting grammar and spelling mistakes while you read slows down your reading process. Although constant bad grammar could affect your reading, small grammar and spelling mistakes hardly affect your comprehension at all.

Again, ask yourself what the purpose of reading this book is. Are you reading for pleasure and knowledge or are you reading to proofread or critique the book?

15. Read Several Books At a Time

This sounds counterproductive. But it works well if you are doing research or want to accumulate knowledge on a topic fast.

When I was writing my book, Fearless Passion, I read several books about passion at the same time. Some books have similar information. I just picked one book that clearly explained the information I needed and skipped the rest. Reading several books at once also allows me to receive different points of view on the same topic quicker.

Even if you are reading fiction books, you can also read books in the same series at the same time. That will help you retain information about the plot and characters.

Featured photo credit: Waiting and Reading at Bryant Park / Jens Schott Knudsen via flickr.com

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Yong Kang Chan

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Last Updated on October 22, 2019

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

How to Focus and Concentrate Better to Boost Productivity

We live in a world of massive distraction. No matter where you are today, there is always going to be distractions. Your colleagues talking about their latest date, notification messages popping up on your screens, and not just your mobile phone screens. And even if you try to find a quiet place, there will always be someone with a mobile device that is beeping and chirping.

With all these distractions, it is incredibly difficult to concentrate on anything for very long. Something will distract you and that means you will find it very difficult to focus on anything.

So how to focus and concentrate better? How to focus better and produce work that lifts us and takes us closer towards achieving our outcomes?

1. Get Used to Turning off Your Devices

Yes, I know this one is hard for most people. We believe our devices are so vital to our lives that the thought of turning them off makes us feel insecure. The reality is they are not so vital and the world is not going to end within the next thirty minutes.

So turn them off. Your battery will thank you for it. More importantly though is when you are free from your mobile distraction addiction, you will begin to concentrate more on what needs to get done.

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You do not need to do this for very long. You could set a thirty-minute time frame for being completely mobile free. Let’s say you have an important piece of work to complete by lunchtime today. Turn off your mobile device between 10 am and 11 am and see what happens.

If you have never done this before, you will feel very uncomfortable at first. Your brain will be fighting you. It will be telling you all sorts of horror stories such as a meteorite is about to hit earth, or your boss is very angry and is trying to contact you. None of these things is true, but your brain is going to fight you. Prepare yourself for the fight.

Over time, as you do this more frequently, you will soon begin to find your brain fights you less and less. When you do turn on your device after your period of focused work and discover that the world did not end, you have not lost an important customer and all you have are a few email newsletters, a confirmation of an online order you made earlier and a text message from your mum asking you to call about dinner this weekend, you will start to feel more comfortable turning things off.

2. Create a Playlist in Your Favourite Music Streaming App

Many of us listen to music using some form of music streaming service, and it is very easy to create our own playlists of songs. This means we can create playlists for specific purposes.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to drive, there was a trend selling driving compilation tapes and CDs. The songs on these tapes and CDs were uplifting driving music songs. Songs such as C W McCall’s Convoy theme and the Allman Brothers Band’s, Jessica. They were great songs to drive to and helped to keep us awake and focused while we were driving.

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Today, we can create playlists to help us to focus on our work. Choose non-vocal music that has a low tempo. Music from artists such as Ben Böhmer, Ilan Bluestone or Andrew Bayer has the perfect tempo.

Whenever you want to go into deep, focused work, listen to that playlist. What happens is your brain soon associates when you listen to the playlist you created with focused work and it’s time to concentrate on what it is you want to do.

3. Have a Place to Go to When You Need to Concentrate

If you eat, surf online and read at your desk, you will find your desk a very distracting place to do your work. One way to get your brain to understand it is focused work time is, to use the same place each time for just focused work.

This could be a quiet place in your office, or it could be a special coffee shop you use specifically for focused work. Again, what you are doing is associating an environment with focus.

Just as with having a playlist to listen to when you want to concentrate, having a physical place that accomplishes the same thing will also put you in the right frame of mind to be more focused.

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When you do find the right place to do your focused work, then only do focused work there. Never surf, never do any online shopping. Just do your work and then leave. You want to be training your brain to associate focused work with that environment and nothing else.

If you need to make a phone call, respond to an email or message, then go outside and do it. From now on, this place is your special working place and that is all you use it for.

Every morning, I do fifteens minutes of meditation. Each time, I sit down to do my meditation, I use the same music playlist and the same place. As soon as I put my earphones in and sit down in this place, my mind immediately knows it is meditation time and I become relaxed and focused almost immediately. I have trained my brain over a few months to associate a sound and a place with relaxed, thoughtful meditation. It works.

4. Get up and Move

We humans have a limited attention span. How long you can stay focused for depends on your own personal makeup. It can range from between twenty minutes to around two hours. With practice, you can stay focused for longer, but it takes time and it takes a lot of practice.

When you do find yourself being unable to concentrate any longer, get up from where you are and move. Go for a walk, move around and get some air. Do something completely different from what you were doing when you were concentrating.

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If you were writing a report in front of a screen, get away from your screens and look out the window and appreciate the view. Take a walk in the local park, or just walk around your office. You need to give your brain completely different stimuli.

Your brain is like a muscle. There is only so much it can do before it fatigues. If you are doing some focused work in Photoshop and then switch to surfing the internet, you are not giving your brain any rest. You are still using many of the same parts of your brain.

It’s like doing fifty pushups and then immediately trying to do bench presses. Although you are doing a different exercise, you are still exercising your chest. What you need to be doing to build up superior levels of concentrated focus is, in a sense, do fifty pushups and then a session of squats. Now you are exercising your chest and then your legs. Two completely different exercises.

Do the same with your brain. Do focused visual work and then do some form of movement with a different type of work. Focused visual work followed by a discussion with a colleague about another unrelated piece of work, for example.

The Bottom Line

It is not difficult to train your brain to become better at concentrating and focusing, but you do need to exercise deliberate practice. You need to develop the intention to focus and be very strict with yourself.

Set time aside in your calendar and make sure you tell your colleagues that you will be ‘off the grid’ for a couple of hours. With practice and a little time, you will soon find yourself being able to resist temptations and focus better.

More Resources About Boosting Focus and Productivity

Featured photo credit: Wenni Zhou via unsplash.com

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