How do you focus on reading?

Ghostrick Dorklord

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I've been wanting to make this thread for a while now but I didn't know how to go about it. I genuinely love reading which is why I tend to spend hours on the internet because there's a lot to read on there. The problem I have is that I'm too easily distracted from reading the things I want to read. Whether if its a physical book or not I can't seem to focus on it for too long and do other things. I guess its hard in the digital age when there's a lot of media to watch/interact with these days.

There's lot of books and novels that I really want to read and I want to get back to reading them instead of another TV Tropes page and/or random Tweet so I'm asking for advice on this.
 

Hawki

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I have the same problem. It actually hinders writing more than reading for me. But at least with reading, if it's a physical book, just turn the computer and mobile completely off, lie back, and read. Because with an electronic device on, sooner or later you'll be distracted.
 

Dirty Hipsters

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I lay down to read, and then my dog lays down next to me. Then I feel too guilty to get up and disturb her so I keep laying down and reading.
 

SupahEwok

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I put my eyes on the page and read the words.

Okay, a little more helpfully: focus is a skill like any other. Reading books requires a little more from you than other media. Writers can't list out every detail in a novel because such would be terribly mechanical and boring. There is just enough description, hopefully, for the reader to connect with their own experiences and imagination to fill in the gaps. This is what makes reading a unique media experience. But it doesn't have any of the immediate dopamine hits of videogames, movies, or TV to make it quickly rewarding for your brain's built-in gratification system. Even browsing the internet gives you more tiny dopamine hits to gratify you, as its tied to accomplishment: read a news article, tiny hit. Make a tweet, tiny hit. Read a wiki page, tiny hit. Since book chapters are longer, it takes longer to hit that "accomplishment" threshold, and its more spaced out.

You just kind of have to suck it up and build up your focus for reading again. Go to a room with no digital gizmos, leave the phone in another room, and set a small reading goal. 5 or 10 pages. Do that a few nights a week. You'll fidget and space out some, so don't put a time limit on it. Gradually increase your page goal, and within a few weeks, you'll at least be able to engage with fiction again. Nonfiction I find to be another order of difficulty, and it's something I struggle with my ADHD. It just isn't written to be as engaging as fiction. I just kinda accept its going to take me longer to reach a page count goal of nonfiction for the night, with time for "spacing out".
 

SckizoBoy

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It depends on how I'm taking to the content to be honest. If I'm fully invested from the get-go, it'll take my wife smacking me over the head with the dehumidifier to get my attention away from the page (whether ink & paper or pixels on the screen). Conversely, if I'm ambivalent to what's happening in the story at best, my eyes will just hop around the page and I'll be very aware of my surroundings. So quality of writing and my general predilection towards the genre, author, setting etc. will dictate my level of focus.

All other things being equal however, I read best when I have some soft music on in the background (so long as it's music I enjoy, anything can do, I end up equating the listening experience to the reading experience in many instances, like Vivien Chebbah's stuff when I read the later books from the Honor Harrington series) and I know where my hands are. If I'm reading a book, one hand holds it and the other is either on a mug (a hot drink is often integral to my ideal reading experience) or turning the page. If I'm reading on my notebook, then both are on the mug (or scrolling on the mouse). Keep your body's activity minimal and make sure that you're aware that it's minimal. Nothing like awareness of being fidgety to mess with your imagination which should be concentrating on the narrative (which includes straying towards the phone or Discord/Facebook notifications etc.).
 

Zykon TheLich

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Set a time to sit down and read. Get all the things you need to do out of the way first.

Then sit or lie down in a room without a computer in it.

Read 5 minutes but do it every day. Then start doing a bit more, gradually increase, 10 minutes, etc. Read more if you feel yourself getting into it of course, but at least do the 5 minutes.

My concentration and memory is absolutely appalling, but that helps me and you do gradually get into the habit.
 

Kae

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I have an odd problem when it comes to reading, I have no problems concentrating on whatever I'm reading, however I will be so concentrated on it that I'll forget to do almost everything else, which is why I don't read often, which is a shame since I do enjoy it but unless it's a really short book it means that I'm very likely to stop eating and sleeping until I'm done, so I guess what I need to work on is my reading discipline.
 

Johnny Novgorod

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I put the phone away and lie down in bed or in my couch. This is usually in the morning or early evening. And I always make sure to finish whatever chapter I'm on. Makes diving back in easier. Just create an enviroment and turn it into a habit or a discipline.
 
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XsjadoBlayde

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The main thing is making sure everybody in your hearing vicinity is either quiet or dead. Now, the dead option is way more garunteed to keep the peace, but unfortunately the laws haven't quite caught up with the sheer high-level wokeness of my attitudes towards human life in that regard.

Or there's Headphones. Headphones might work, ambience or silence to block out audio distraction. Yeah, headphones might help with one sense.
 
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Palindromemordnilap

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It depends on the book. Some I can just devour, once I start I'm locked in until I stop. Some drag a bit more and I find myself drifting a bit as though needing to recharge
 

wings012

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I used to be a lot better at it and I definitely find that I'm a lot more easily distracted nowadays having gotten used to smartphones and other distractions.

This only works for novels, but I try to imagine it visually. Like I'm constantly trying to translate what's on the page into some form of visuals. Then I kinda just... get into the zone and can blast through an entire novel over the course of a day. That's how it used to be anyway.
 

Iron

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I read outside - in the balcony, in the park, somewhere with fresh air and natural light. I don't bring my phone with me, I stop reading when I feel like it. Makes the experience very pleasant and relaxing.
 

Buyetyen

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I read outside - in the balcony, in the park, somewhere with fresh air and natural light. I don't bring my phone with me, I stop reading when I feel like it. Makes the experience very pleasant and relaxing.
Reading outside during thunderstorms is a particular favorite of mine.

It more or less comes down to finding ways to get into the groove. I struggle with that a bit myself. High-functioning autism, can't tune out some distractions to save my life. Still, you'll find ways. We all do. My favorite story of a weird personal ritual for getting into the groove: Goethe kept a desk drawer full of rotten apples in his study. Every day he spent a few minutes huffing the fumes before writing for "inspiration."
 

Baffle

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Read in the bath. There's bugger all else to do in there, especially if there's no water to splash around in.
 

Agema

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There's lot of books and novels that I really want to read and I want to get back to reading them instead of another TV Tropes page and/or random Tweet so I'm asking for advice on this.
Willpower? Okay, I know that's a pretty facile answer, in a way. The issue is how to develop it.

You can try setting yourself little limits, which you can do by structuring and organising. Start looking at the internet, set a stopwatch on your mobile or watch for 30 minutes or so, and when that goes off, stop. Nothing can make you actually do that. But simply setting yourself such a signal can be a small but significant way to improve your likelihood to stop than just by trying to do so without one.

A friend of mine wanted to stop smoking and really enjoyed the sport of cricket. The way he tried was to imagine he was playing cricket for England, batting at Lords (this might not make a lot of sense to people unfamiliar with cricket, obviously) and every day he didn't smoke he scored scored 1 run, and had to achieve the highest score he could. So he created an arbitrary sense of achievement to give himself that extra push to not smoke. That sort of thing is another way to create motivation. It's odd in that in a sense it is sort of bullshit in that the achievement doesn't really exist, and yet for many it works.

It's worth taking a look at some general advice of this sort: motivation and keeping to tasks, time organisation, etc.