How long can you keep your attention on a block of text when you’re trying to study? Can you go through a whole chapter without interruptions? Maybe you’re like most other students, who easily get distracted while trying to read. Any movement or sound in your surroundings disturbs your focus. Even your own thoughts can obstruct the process of learning. It’s like your mind doesn’t want to do this right now, and it tries to convince you to procrastinate.
It happens. Losing focus is a completely natural thing. There’s good news: you can do something about it. We’ll suggest few tips on how to study more productively through focused, active reading.
Create Achievable Milestones
Start by breaking up the reading material into small chunks. The end of each section will be a milestone. Going through few pages of reading doesn’t seem like a huge challenge. When you reach that small goal, you can have a 10-minute break. Then, you’ll proceed with the next section, which will be just as easy to read.
If you don’t overwhelm your mind with the amount of reading you have to go through, it will stay focused. This is a great trick for more productive learning.
If You Catch Yourself Daydreaming, Go Back
Even when you create small milestones, you’ll catch yourself daydreaming during the reading. It won’t happen as often as it would without that trick, but you’ll still lose attention. When you catch that moment, evaluate what you read. If you don’t’ remember, take a deep breath, refocus, and go back to read the material again.
Evaluate After Each Milestone
How do you know your reading was productive? Check! After each section you go through, answer few questions. Do you remember the main points?
Evaluate the speed of reading, too. How much time did you need for the precise number of paragraphs? Compare it to the time you needed for the previous section. This is a nice way to measure your productivity, so you’ll make sure you’re not procrastinating.
Your mind and your eyes have their limit. You have to freshen up after each reading section. Make it a productive break! Don’t waste the entire time on social media; the screen is still making your eyes tired. Take a power nap, have a healthy meal and a smoothie, or meditate. Do something to refill your energy levels, so you’ll get back to the reading without a problem.
Create a Focused Environment
Is your room a complete mess? Are you reading with the TV on? Are your roommates listening to loud music? Your environment is very important. It has to support the reading process. All distractions are making you unproductive.
You can always go to the library to do the reading. Everyone there is doing the same thing, so you’ll be motivated to stay focused. You can also study in your dorm room, but make sure it’s quiet and organized.
Be an Active Reader
Have you heard of the SQ3R method? It means Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review.
- First, you survey. This means you need to take a look at the table of context and see how the material is organized in chapters and sections. Before starting a chapter, you’ll look at the title, outline, questions, the first paragraph, and the last one.
- Now, question! Turn the subheadings into questions, which you’ll answer through the reading.
- Do the reading. You already understand part of the material if you went through the previous stages. Now, you have to focus on the details.
- Reciting means paraphrasing what you read, and doing it out loud. With this technique, you’ll make sure you understand what you’re reading and you’re focused all the time.
- Finally, review. Go through the questions you created and try to answer them without looking at the text. Review the notes and highlighted areas, as well as the comments you were making throughout the reading process.
Now, you’re ready to start reading more productively. You can try the above-listed tips today!