A woman sitting on a comfortable chair and reading a book

You’re Not a “Broken” Reader

I heard it again yesterday. I hear it several times a week. People tell me, “I want to read books, but I can’t focus for more than a few minutes.” There’s a reason for this, and it’s an easy/hard fix. Do you want to know how to become a great reader quickly? I’ll tell you. 

Grab a book from your shelf, any book. It doesn’t matter. Now, turn to any page. Have you got it? Perfect. Now for the “secret sauce” that will make you a great reader. For the entire duration of this page, do not multitask. I’m not talking about doing the dishes or driving a car. That would be ridiculous. If I see you driving down the road while reading a physical book simultaneously, we’ll have words. 

I’m talking about the kind of multitasking that keeps you from falling asleep at night. Have you ever sat in bed and thought, “This is time I could use to figure something out! While waiting to fall asleep, I can work through that big project.?” 

Have you ever done that? We’re conditioned to be effective. Our subconscious says, “Hey, he’s just sitting here reading a book. I’m a good multitasker, so I will read and …(fill in the blank).” In the intro, I mentioned this is an easy/hard fix. It’s easy because it’s a simple decision: stop telling yourself you’re a multitasker. It’s hard because secretly you think multitasking is a good thing. This is usually a false belief.

All I’m asking is that you be aware of this process. Whether or not you believe in multitasking (I do not), that’s not my point. I’m asking you to realize that by multitasking, you’re dividing your attention and then patting yourself on the back for “getting it all done.” You might get stuff done, but the quality of your work will never be as high.

Try this. With the book in your hand, read one page without multitasking. Don’t listen to music. Don’t sip a glass of wine. Don’t boil a pot of water. Don’t walk on the treadmill. Don’t do anything other than read this one page. At the end of it, think about what you’ve read. This concept makes sense, but for many of us, it’s hard to do.

Until tomorrow, read slowly – take notes – apply the ideas.


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