By Erin Caine
No matter your major or year, chances are you’ll have a sizeable mountain of stuff to read by the time the semester begins in earnest. For many students, focusing on difficult texts for long periods of time can prove challenging. Other times, simply finding the time in your busy schedule to sit down with a lengthy assignment can seem next to impossible. Here are some tips to tackle the beast:
1. Take constructive breaks more than time-wasting breaks. Though you might feel as if you’ve earned the right to goof off for a few hours on social media after getting through a page or two, it’s better to keep yourself busy and start working on something smaller or easier before you’re ready to return to your reading. Better yet, take the time to practice healthy habits: stretch, go for a walk, or stay hydrated.
2. Highlight key passages and then take notes on them later. Writing notes while reading can interrupt your flow. Also, if you’re strongly opposed to marking up your books, sticky notes are an option.
3. Don’t stay up late reading. Studies show you actually retain less information when you’re sleep-deprived. If you really want to get the most out of a reading, it’s better to read in bursts throughout the day without putting any unnecessary stress on your mind or body. Besides, if you don’t get enough shut-eye, you’ll probably end up too cranky to do any future readings.
4. Plot out your day or week if you’re especially busy. That way you’ll know when you have time to give your full attention to assigned material. Too many students make the mistake of thinking they have “no time at all” to read.