Do you get fed up of reading? Or you just don’t enjoy reading as much. We all don’t, especially if its not yielding the result we desire. But hey, don’t give up. Not too quick. I’ve made a list of 7 good reading habits you could employ to help you. No 7 is a blockbuster. Read to the end.
1. Employ active recall
Do you read and forget what you just read after few seconds? It happens because of a theory called the forgetting curve which assumes that we tend to forget over half of what we read in just 48 hrs. To combat the forgetting curve, you want to be more intentional about your reading by employing active recall.
Active recall is a principle of efficient learning which claims the need to actively stimulate memory during the learning process. It contrasts with passive review in which the material is processed passively. What this simply means is that, active recall is the act of being active when you’re reading or learning something.
How to Employ Active Recall
- Survey: Survey or skim the material to get an idea of what it is about.
- Question: Create some questions that you have and that you think the text might answer.
- Read: Then actively read the text, trying to answer the questions you created.
- Retrieve: This is the active recall part. Recall from memory the information you learned. Use your own words to formulate the material. Do it either orally or in writing.
- Review: Once you finish that, repeat back to yourself what the point of the material was, and summarize what you learned.
The key word here is to ask questions. Be creative about it as well.
2. Employ Spaced Repetition
Another reading habit that can reduce the forgetting curve is to employ spaced repetition. This is in contrast to what causes the forgetting curve, storing loads of information in a short period of time, which is why it is effective.
How to Employ Spaced Repetition
Space your reading time into intervals. There should be breaks during each interval where you take the time to review and recall what you’ve read before reading on. By doing this, you hack the way your brain works and use it to your advantage.
Whenever you want to read, remember this!
3. Manage the State You’re In
Another reading habit you want to employ is to always manage the state you’re in.
Always note that Information × Emotion = Long term Memory. This implies that if your emotion is zero, there would be no long term memory, hence the forgetting curve all over again.
How to Manage Your State
- Exercise: Research has proven that exercise increases your level of endorphins, thereby lifting your mood.
- Get your body moving: What you need to do to manage your state might be to walk around. The aim is to make sure you’re in control of your state.
- Be mindful of your posture: Your posture also controls the state of your mind. Sit as if you’re about to learn the most crucial life-changing information.
Did you just have to move? If you did, then notice how you feel more focused after you’ve changed your posture. When you sit straight, it also facilitates breathing and the circulation of necessary oxygen to your brain and the rest of your body. If you’re slumped over, it could stifle the breathing process and make you tired.
Always remember the formula!
4. Use your sense of smell
Smell can be associated with learning. The science behind this is that incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain and it has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory: the amygdala and hippocampus. Interestingly, visual, auditory (sound) and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these brain areas. This may be why olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.
This can be taken advantage of in learning. If a particular scent can rocket us back to our childhoods, a different scent can be used to accelerate our recall.
How To Use Your Sense of Smell
When studying for a test, put a bit of a particular essential oil on your wrist while you’re studying and then make sure you do the same thing before your take the test. The scent will help heighten your recall.
Another thing you could do is try to read in the same location you would take a test; that way you could associate your recall to the scent or things around you. Try it out! It’s a great tip.
5. Use a visual pacer
The use of a visual pacer is another good reading habit you should definitely employ. It guides your eyes and helps you to focus when reading, amongst other benefits. All you have to do is use your hands, pen, marker or card to underline texts as you read. I’ve written an extensive essay on the effective ways to use a visual pacer here.
6. Music for the Mind
The only reason I still remember Gay Lussac law is because I learnt it through a song. I’m sure you can relate to this. There are several things we’ve learnt and can’t forget so easily because we learnt it through a song. However, we can’t start turning everything we need to learn now into a song in order to memorize it (I’ve tried that before; the time I used to compose the song took a great deal of time and I ended up forgetting it).
What we can do though is to take advantage of music as it relates to learning. Several studies have suggested that music can put us in conditions that improve our ability to learn. Music stabilizes mental, physical and emotional rhythms to attain a state of deep concentration and focus in which large amounts of content information can be processed and learned. This might not work for all but it definitely works for some. There are two ways to do this. You can either use it to get you into that cool state before reading, or use it in the background as you read; baroque music has been proven to be good for this.
7. Expand your peripheral vision
Another reading habit that will boost your reading speed, increase focus and comprehension is the use of your peripheral vision.
I want you to try this. Focus and look only at a person’s nose. It could be a friend or anybody. Did you do that? Could you see the face or ears of the person? I believe so.
Your peripheral vision is responsible for the ears or other features of the person you could see even though you were only focused on the nose.
This can be taken advantage of when reading in that you do not have to read word for word, because your eyes are capable of grouping many words at a time and recognising them as a larger unit rather than a single word.
Take for example the words, a little girl, rather than reading it as A LITTLE GIRL, all with different meanings, your eyes could group them as one word with one meaning.
One way to practice this is to start reading a book without starting at the very first word. You would discover that even though you didn’t start from the very first word, your peripheral vision will still pick up on the word and read it as well. You should definitely try it out. That’s it guys! What other good reading habit would yo recommend? Post them in the comment section.