Bad Reading Habits – 5 Tips To Fix
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Bad reading habits are never a good thing when you are trying to sit down and absorb information of any kind. They will end up costing you valuable time. They will also ensure that you will not truly comprehend what you are trying to read, leading to miscommunication and misinformation.
Listed below are a variety of bad reading habits and solutions to these problems. The goal: Turn them into good reading habits and improve your speed and apprehension.
5 Bad Reading Habits and How to Fix Them
1. Reading one word at a time
Most people are actually competent readers and can read at a good pace just from the techniques they first learned when they were children. Using your index finger to pace beneath each line is one method you might still apply now and then. However, as we are required to become more specific with our information people start to read much slower, focusing specifically on one word at a time as they believe this will improve their comprehension rates.
Interestingly, the brain is more than capable of processing short phrases and groups of words incredibly quickly! When you consider that on average, half of your material consists of the most common 100 words in the English language, this lessens the need for slow reading even further!
The solution? Quite simply, next time you are going through a text do it a little quicker and try reading groups of words as opposed to individual words. This will reinforce a faster pace and train your eyes and mind to capture key information precisely! However, it may take some time and practice to fully master this technique.
2. Reading everything at the same pace
Surely, reading at the same pace is beneficial. Well, not exactly, though this may initially sound a little odd. However, text you find incredibly easy to comprehend is not worth wasting excess time over, especially if it is information you already know. Likewise, for trickier sections, slowing down a little means you will not have to re-read the text later, which (regression) is one of the most time-wasting bad reading habits many have.
Solution: Try slowing down for tricky sections and speeding up for easy ones the next time you read. You will be surprised at just how much more information will sink in! Furthermore, apply proven methods such as skimming and scanning if you only need an overview of the material.
3. Vocalization and subvocalization
What is meant by vocalization? This is when you start pronouncing words out loud as you read. Subvocalization is the same idea but pronouncing words in your head. It is certainly one of the more controversial bad reading habits. Many developed it as they believe it helps their memory retention if they hear information and read it. In reality, it is slowing your reading down considerably.
The fix? Stop doing it by focusing upon groups of words instead of individual ones! It can take time to stop doing this “bad reading habit” and actively thinking about not vocalizing the text can reduce your focus on your material.
Within a short space of time, however, you should find the process much easier, which will only help your literacy abilities considerably. A proven trick is to hum a melody while flying over the words. It works for me. You may also learn how to visualize what you read to overcome this bad reading habit.
4. Regression – Skipping back and general re-reading
Having to repeat yourself when speaking is frustrating, and it is the same case when reading. Often, even if you have fully understood the sentence, you will find yourself getting to the end of a page and re-reading it out of habit, which is a huge waste of time. This is called regression.
The solution here is somewhat simple. Do not reread sections of text unless you failed to comprehend any of them. This point will be further discussed later, but by reading sentences just once you will show less tendency to develop bad reading habits. And if you require further reading? Try another text on the same subject. This will improve your perspective of the subject and will more than likely throw up additional interesting information!
5. Information overloading and lack of preparation
Leaving things to the last minute is never ideal, and with reading, this is no different. Often when reading is left last minute, you find yourself trying to cram as much information as possible into your brain. Even when not left to the last minute, this is something many people do anyway. This can lead to misinformation and improper communication between the text and you, meaning that what you read and what you actually comprehend can vary drastically.
Solution: A good technique to start using is pre-reading preparation, especially if you can undertake it a day or so before. Briefly skim the text and the internet for key points on the topic, and you will be surprised at just how much information you can gather. If this initial information is reinforced by your reading?
Then that is great! And if not, then simply reread another piece of text to gain another perspective and not become stressed. Information overloading is one of those bad reading habits that can be overcome quickest.
Other Bad Reading Habits Affecting Your Performance
Poor choice of reading environment
This is of particular importance if you digest digital content from a screen. Poorly lit and noisy environments are everywhere, even in the workplace, and it is surprising just how many people choose to read in them. Furthermore, low contrast or brightness issues can affect you adversely too.
Tip: Next time you decide to sit down with a book or essay, ensure that the lighting is good and that it is quiet enough for you to really focus. If not, consider somewhere else if you can and turn this into a good reading habit.
Loss of attention and individual issues
Being distracted by all the technological wizardry around you is incredibly easy. All too often, easy-to-digest media will attract your attention, and before you know it, half an hour has passed. But people also convince themselves that they cannot possibly read any faster than they are already doing so, putting them in a state of semi-denial. Thankfully, this is an easy to overcome bad reading habit.
How? Well, try doing so a little quicker. Download a speed reading app that will teach you how to become faster. Results are often seen within the hour!
Regarding distraction, simply switch the WiFi on your device off. Place it face down and on silent so you have no idea when you have been text. And reward yourself once you completed your tasks or you need a break! After 45 minutes of activity, take 15 minutes to refresh. Take a walk, text your friends back, do whatever you enjoy doing. Just have the discipline to stop that activity after the 15 minutes are up.
Distractions do not necessarily refer to bad reading habits alone but are actually poor work habits that can reduce productivity and outcome significantly. There are many niche blogs out there to get valuable tips to set up a good reading habit workflow.
Tips to Develop Good Reading Habits
So far, we have discussed bad reading habits and ways to overcome or reduce them. However, do not feel bad about them excessively. Simply recognize the habits, accept they are there, and follow proven techniques to break them. While fixing bad habits is effective, developing good reading habits will help optimize your workflow.
30 minutes a day – Take time each day to go through your list of books and or use commuting or spare time to flip through a few pages here and there. If this turns into a habit, you will be amazed at how many books you can read throughout the year.
Take a book – It is one of our habits to take not only money and keys when we leave home but also our smartphone. Make a habit of taking a book too. It’s easy.
Lists – I do not have a specific list of what to read next; it is rather a stack of books on the shelf. What I do have is a document with my completed books and their key learning outcome. Make a habit out of it so you somehow know which ones you will/should begin and the ones you have finished.
Routines – Should, have, must – all words we often like to link to our activities that require some type of effort. Use the tips above to turn reading into a habit that becomes part of your daily routine. Most importantly, get really excited about it. Thus, skip any material you are not interested in, or that does not provide any value.
Space – Low light conditions can support bad reading habits, so can an uncomfortable posture or a room that is uncomfortable. It goes without further saying, that the better you can sync with your surrounding the more likely you enjoy your time or can keep up concentration.
Bad Reading Habits – Summary
Highlighted above are some of the key bad reading habits and issues that you should be aware of the next time you find yourself frustrated by your speed.
Remember that preparation is key, distractions are unnecessary and progress comes in small stages, not suddenly all at once. Rome wasn’t built in a day after all!
Repeating these techniques as often as you can also is central to making any steps forward, so simply take half an hour out of your day, and you will see results in absolutely no time at all!
Overcome Bad Reading Habits – 10 Tips
- Read chunks of words/phrases instead of each word separately.
- Adjust pace to different types of material. Skim and scan.
- Hum a melody to reduce subvocalization.
- Avoid skipping back in text. Reduce regression.
- Ask questions about the author, goals and key objectives. Preview.
- Avoid information overload to support better text apprehension.
- Take or dedicate time to read daily.
- Know what and how much you want read each day.
- Track finished books and key learning outcomes.
- Non-fiction: Ingrain what you have read. Review regularly.
- Create a supportive surrounding allowing little distractions.