Tips on doing your reading, when you don’t want to read
Ironically, I am currently procrastinating my reading by writing this post…
We have all been there. Despite how interesting some readings are, sometimes you just don’t feel like doing it. And sometimes, it just isn’t so appealing*
*As much as I love my course, I’d be lying if I said that there aren’t some not so interesting bits, despite how important they are.*
Right, so what do you do in a situation where the reading is crucial to get to grips with the topic but you just can’t find any motivation to do it?
There are different strategies that I have found to help me personally.
Think about why?
This is a more important question than you may think. Consider the reasons for why may be lacking the motivation. Is it a matter of time management? Try some time management strategies. Is it a matter of not even knowing how best to read? Try out different methods/See your seminar tutor and they will help you. I’m in my final year and still discovering how I best learn!
And if it is simply just a matter of “I cannot be bothered” see some more tips below.
Break it down
You don’t have to read an entire journal article in one day. Divide your readings by the number of chapters or the number of pages. Feel free to mix up your study time by reading a chapter or so of various articles, and you can get back to them again later. This may stop studying getting too tedious by constantly doing something new.
This doesn’t work for everybody though. Some people prefer to dedicate an entire afternoon to one particular topic and go through 2/3 articles fully and really well.
Find out what works best for you and stick with it.
Print it out
Having a printer in my room is almost essential for me considering how much I print and the costs of printing on campus. If I print out my readings I find that I get through them much more efficiently than if I would reading from a computer where I risk skimming reading a little too much. Sometimes reading from a computer is beneficial, such as to search keywords, or to store all of your annotations online (I use OneNote for this). But for core readings which are super important, printing out is the way to go. It also encourages me to annotate with a pen and paper, forcing me to think about what I am reading and any critical opinions I may have.
Consider the purpose
This is really important because without knowing the purpose of why the text has been set, you won’t even know what to look out for and will end up cluelessly reading chunks of text.
Some tutors will write notes on the reading list on why they have included it, e.g. what chapters to focus on and what the overall aim is for why they have been chosen. If they don’t, sometimes going through the lecture material will give you hints or even past exam questions.
Once you know the purpose, you can tell yourself that the overall goal is achieving that, and focus your attention on looking out for related things. This is an efficient way of reading and also helpful later on when you start thinking about exams.
Make your notes colourful
Sometimes you just need some colour to brighten up your day. Use highlighters and colourful pens to make things slightly more interesting so that you think about reading in a more creative sense and therefore actually look forward to it!
For one of my modules in my second year, I drew the most bizarre, almost irrelevant things next to my notes, such as an elephant, or a volcano which at the time I thought was a slight waste of time. However, upon reflection, I can still remember well what article that volcano or elephant was drawn next to and the overall argument stated in it.
Read the abstract, introduction and conclusion
Slight cheat, would not recommend for core readings. Although, this is a really good method to get a glimpse of readings, to find out the key points, and if it isn’t an essential read, this is a good method to go through a lot of content in a short period of time.
I found this technique particularly helpful during exam time. Throughout the year, I focus on reading a few things each week for each module, really well. But during exams, I decided in addition to the notes I made throughout the year, it would be wise to have a few scholars to enhance my arguments — and reading the abstract, introduction and conclusion is a good way to do this.
Shanita 🙂 xo