Reading is highly beneficial for our brains and gives our cognitive development a major boost, but as technology spins the world faster and faster, we are spending less time absorbed in books and more time scrolling. In our rush to read online content, we forget that it’s not necessarily how much information we absorb, but the quality of our reading that matters most.
Studies show that adding 30 minutes of uninterrupted slow reading to your daily schedule can improve your cognitive abilities. Other research demonstrates how skim-reading articles online encourages us to skip over content that we might have found meaningful if only we slowed down to savor it.
The pandemic gave a lot of us more time to read but breaking our fast-reading habits might not be as simple as clearing our schedules. If you need some help slowing down to get the most out of your reading, here are a few tips.
Block out enough time
Purposefully give yourself enough time in your day to sit down and read, guilt-free, without thinking about anything else on your to-do list. A lot of people will zoom through pages simply because they don’t give themselves enough time to enjoy what they’re reading. Or they don’t commit to the time they set aside because of other preoccupations running through their minds. Start with dedicating at least 30 minutes a day to mindful reading.
Set 15-minute alarms
If you’ve developed a hard-to-break speed-reading habit, it might be overwhelming to suddenly start working through entire novels or articles. If you’re finding it hard to adjust to a slower pace, try setting alarms in 15-minute intervals, so you can focus on reading for limited periods.
This way, you can gradually work your way up to reading each page more mindfully instead of focusing on the time that’s passing. Slowly start adding minutes to your timer until it’s set at 40 or even 60 minutes.
Make yourself a phone-free reading area
Technology is a wondrous tool for development and innovation, but it has also changed the way we interact with our environment. We’re so accustomed to fast-paced information consumption, that we habitually feel the temptation to check our notifications and messages.
To avoid that temptation, try keeping your reading area clear of all unneeded devices, especially your phone. Once a good amount of time has passed, you can give yourself a one-minute phone break so that you don’t drive yourself crazy with self-deprivation. Doing this will not only improve your focus and attention on what you’re reading, but this practice will also improve your ability to focus on other things. An additional benefit: improving our ability to focus can also help our mental health in general.