5 Helpful Tips To Get Back Into Reading
Do you ever log onto social media to distract yourself? I certainly fall into that trap. But recently I asked myself a hard question: why am I procrastinating so much? Is it laziness? Fear? Physical exhaustion? And I learned it all came down to my mindset. There's a book called Eat That Frog. The idea is to take the ugliest task of the day (your frog), and do that first. Although the idea of eating a frog sounds absolutely disgusting, (but they do serve frog legs as a delicacy in France) it's all about perspective. And once you eat your frog, you've got that off your plate (ba dum tss). If I'm being honest, my biggest frog is reading.
Yes I know, a writer that struggles with reading, how ironic. It's not that I don't like reading, it's just that I am slow reader. And I could use that as an excuse, but instead I want to use that as motivation. It's the difference between saying "I can't do it" vs asking "how can I do it?" I've mentioned before, a goal without a plan is just an idea. And achieving goals require taking specific actions consistently.
How Our Brains Read On Screen Vs Print
I think we can all agree that reading on a screen is easier than on paper. If you want to get into the science of it, here's why that is. When you're reading on a screen, your brains default to a skimming mode. But when you're reading a physical paper book, it forces your brain to focus on the page. There are no pop up ads, no side banners, or random videos playing in the corner. It's just you and the printed letters on the page. Maybe that's why reading a physical book leads to greater retention, improved memory, and better learning. Recognizing how important this is, and looking at my stack of unread books, I decided I need to read more. So I did a bit of research and found these 6 simple tips to improve reading skills. I am going to try them out and I encourage you to do the same.
1.Chose A Book That Interests You
Sometimes starting out with a book that interests you is the best way to jump back into reading. That way you're much more engaged reading it, purely because.. you want to! And there are so many books to chose from: mystery, business, fantasy, self improvement, finance, travel, autobiography etc. Don't be afraid to go outside your comfort zone either and try a new type of book. And if you try reading one genre and don't like it, that's okay, you can try a different one. There's no set rules with reading, it's about finding what works best for you.
2.Set A Reading Goal
It doesn't have to be a super crazy goal, just something to hold yourself accountable. Maybe it's reading 10 pages a day, or sitting down and reading for 15 minutes. Make your reading goals realistic, and then be consistent with your commitment. Like many skills, reading gets better with time. It's just a matter forming reading into a habit. And the secret to forming a habit is repetition. We know that repeated actions done consistently turn into habits eventually. Setting a daily reading goal will help you get there. Who knows, you might surprise yourself by how easy it is once you get started. By meeting your daily reading goals, you'll grow in confidence and in progress. Before you know it, you'll have finished your book.
It's all about focus. Like I mentioned earlier, when our brains are reading from a screen, they switch to skimming mode. Sometimes this habit can carry over to reading in print as well. So it becomes a matter of stopping your brain when it starts skimming, and going back to read the paragraph again. It's okay if you need to reread a section multiple times. It's training your brain to read with greater focus. And that's a process. Reading is one of the best ways to expand your vocabulary, which leads to better communication skills. It's a good idea to have a dictionary close by so you can easily look up new words.
While reading your book, it's okay to ask questions. In fact, this is a good thing. Asking questions forces you into a deeper reading mode, which increases your retention and focus. Plus it's always good to become educated because questions motivate you to pursue answers. This process strengthens your independent and critical thinking skills too. Often times, if you have a question about something, someone else has had it too. And with the "internet of things" world that we live in, you can easily find the answers you seek.
5.Do It With Others
We're naturally social creatures as humans. It's normal to want to talk to others about things. Books are no exception to this. Doing things in groups holds us accountable to our commitments. So if you're someone who needs to be around people, maybe joining a book club is a good way to get into reading again.
Reading Reduces Stress
If you're curious, there's tons of other benefits to reading, but one I want to mention is stress reduction. Did you know reading naturally lowers your heart rate and cortisol levels? Which makes it a great activity to promote sleep. There's a lot of research which shows that looking at a screen before bed lowers the Melatonin (naturally occurring hormone that aids in sleep) levels in the body. This can mess up your circadian rhythm, making it harder to fall asleep.
Adjust Your Goals As Needed
Final note, if you really don't like the book, you can switch to a different one. It's okay to make changes. And the same goes for your reading goals. Maybe you set a goal to read for 30 minutes, but you lose attention after 10 minutes. It's okay to adjust your reading goals to better fit where you're at right now in your reading abilities. Maybe 30 minutes of reading is something you work up to, but starting out, maybe 10 minutes is a better fit. Remember, every expert was once a beginner, so give yourself some grace. Habits take time.
So now you have 6 practical tips to help encourage and form your reading habits. Remember it doesn't have to be crazy ambitious. Just start small and be consistent. Even if it's only a page a day, you're still reading more than you did before. And you might surprise yourself by how quickly that 1 page turns into 15 pages without you even realizing. Just pick up a book and commit to reading every day. You can do it!