Do you want to read more often? Do you try to read, but find it hard to focus or find time? Or are you here, reading this, to learn how to improve your study skills?
Every single one of you, from the smartest to dullest, can answer yes to one of those questions. Life has too many harsh lessons that can be learned through the safe pages of a paperback book, rather than having to learn them the hard way. For example, after reading Harry Potter, we learn not to trust gothic teachers who may or may not commit self-mutilation…. or else he may kill our favorite magical principal. Books can also teach you lessons from history, as long as you can endure the long sentences and dull writing styles. In which case you can follow some of the helpful ideas listed.
1: Remove Distractions
2: Reward Yourself
3: Set up a Reading/Studying Time
1: Remove Distractions
Keep Light; Lose View: Firstly, let’s remove all the unneccessary distractions from your reading envirenment. We will want to keep the light, but lose the view. In other words, natural light is absolutely essential to read and focus; on the other hand, any interesting view will have you staring blankly into the garden or busy street. If you plan breaks, however, then you may want to peek outside to help rejuvinate yourself.
Move Books: You may also want to move all of your books, if you can, into another room. In moments when your concetration may be breaking, we may be tempted to reach up the bookshelf and thumb through other interesting books. Unless you are using them for study, then it would be a good idea to remove that distraction as well.
Keep Reading Space Focused: As well as removing the books, try to keep your reading space focused. Photo’s, toys, and other items may seem homely, but also hold the potential to trigger day-dreaming sessions and tinkering. If you can’t bear to part with the items, consider placing them behind where you sit. You will have the comfort of know they are there without the distraction of them.
Minimize Digital Distractions: If your reading/studying doesn’t require internet connection, think about disconnecting and turning your computer off. Try to distance yourself from your cellphone or any other social gadget/gizmo. Minimizing digital distractions will help you focus tremendously.
Simplify decorations. My workspace – also my bedroom – used to contain one wall covered in a collage of photos. It was the wall behind my desk, and the time I spent poring over the images when I was supposed to be working began to eat into my productivity. I’ve since taken down the collage and have found I actually like the clean, uncluttered look better. I’d also much rather look at my computer screen than a blank wall!
You probably won’t have a collage, but you might have ornaments, paintings, wall-hangings and other decorations that prove to be visual distractions when you’re feeling uninspired. Consider simplifying down to one or two decorations, preferably out of your immediate field of view.
You may even find there’s a certain beauty to be found in your workspace’s new simplicity.
2: Reward yourself
One of the tricks of this system is to use small rewards as well as large ones. As you read your book, remember to reward yourself along the way. Maybe it could be every chapter or every other chapter, but using positive reinforcement is extremely helpful.
Here are some of the small rewards I use for myself:
- An trip to the library.
- A fresh cup of coffee or tea.
- 10 minutes sitting on the patio just enjoying it.
- A 10 minute call to a friend.
- A call to a writing friend to let them know I’ve completed a task and want to celebrate.
- Buy myself lunch at a restaurant I like.
- A walk through my local botanical garden.
- A nap (with a good book.)
- 15 minutes exploring websites I think I don’t have time for.
- 30 minutes caring for my garden.
- Go to the movies
You get the idea. Most of these are free or close to it. Most of them don’t take anything like a whole day. As I look at this list I realize three hours is probably the longest time investment on the list ; many don’t even require me to use much of my time.
3: Set up a Reading/Studying Time.
Setting up a time to read is an extremely helpful way to start a reading pattern. This time can be before you go to bed or early in the morning, in between classes, during break, and more. If you don’t have enough time to do this, then take any opportunity where you do not have to use your eyes. Take your book in the bath with you, but make sure to take a towel also so it doesn’t get wet. If you take public transportation to work bring your book along. If you’re watching t.v. read during the commercials. Also, r ead at night before you go to bed. Not only will this help you to fall asleep, but it’s the perfect time to read. Just don’t stay up reading too late on a week night!