Reading strategies. How to read effectively?
There are many people, probably you among them, who think they would like to have more time to read books, magazines, blogs, reports, projects, etc. Unfortunately, time is a limited resource so the important thing is not just to read everything we can, but also to do it in a way that makes reading as productive as possible.
As part of the professional development to perform the appropriate readings and really stay with the importance of them, is part of our work in addition to allowing us to develop our skills and acquire knowledge.
Ask yourself: when you read a text for the first time do you understand all its content or do you have to reread it to keep the important thing? If your answer is that a first reading is not enough, this article will help you because in it you will find some strategies that will allow you to read in a more effective way.
What is your purpose in reading?
When you are going to start reading something, you must consider whether you are doing it with a defined objective such as professional updating, information, evaluation or simply for the mere pleasure of reading.
Once you have clear what you expect to get from that text, you can examine it to have a real perception of whether it will be useful for that purpose. For example, if you want to know how to do a feasibility study, it probably will not be of any use to read a whole report on the demographic statistics of the country, although that document may be useful later when you are doing the study.
To know the content without having to read everything it can be very useful to read the introduction or the summary if they are present, as well as the titles of the different chapters or sections.
If after this brief exercise you come to the conclusion that the document will be useful for the purpose you have proposed, then you should read it. This also works for magazines, blogs and/or newspapers, both in print and digital format.
You must learn to filter because there are thousands of publications on similar topics both in paper format and on the internet and not all are equally good, you have to be able to determine which ones to read (which will really be useful to you) and which ones are not.
Quick reading or in greater depth?
Depending on your objective when reading, sometimes it is not necessary to read a document in depth. When you only need to have a basic idea/knowledge on the subject it may be enough for you to read the titles of the chapters as well as the introduction and conclusion.
If you need more details you can read the introductions of each of the chapters in order to have a broader notion or read the content quickly paying attention to the highlighted texts, keywords, as well as the diagrams and graphics.
Now, if you are clear that you need to have more knowledge about the subject of the document, then you should study it in detail. Firstly, it is important to quickly browse the text to have a general idea of it, including its structure, this will allow you to know which are the most important parts. So when you read in detail you can have a better understanding of reading. You can use a reading method like the SQ3R that will allow you to take better advantage of your time.
It is proven that when you read a document, a book, an article, etc. It is really useful to use techniques such as taking notes, underlining and highlighting those parts of the text that seem relevant to you.
Another technique very in vogue is the use of mental maps, also known as schemes. These techniques allow you to make your mind notice that this part of the text is important, they are also excellent for reviewing the concepts once you have finished reading the document or even after a while.
The use of this type of technique is called reading actively and it is clear that they also help you to keep focused on what you are reading, avoiding distractions.
Not all texts should be read in the same way
Depending on the type of publication that you read, you will find different ways of presenting the information, as well as the depth of the content. To get the most out of reading, it is important to know these tips:
Learn to differentiate the different types of articles you can read:
The magazines and newspapers, rather by reason of space, offer the information, generally of partial form. This may not be entirely objective because they usually offer what potential readers are willing to read; For this reason, if you want complete information about a topic, magazines and newspapers can be complementary sources, but they should not be taken as a base source to draw conclusions.
If you have access to different journals you can print or cut out those articles that may be of interest to you and archive them in thematic folders, since by joining different texts you can get a more complete view of the subject.
In the case of newspapers, save time by reading only the sections that you know may be of interest to you. Although it seems insignificant that you spend 'leafing through' other sections, if you add it at the end of the month you will easily accumulate a couple of hours, a time that you could devote to another reading or assignment.
News articles: the key aspects are explained at the beginning, the rest of the information is for those who want to go into detail.
Opinion articles: as the name implies, they express someone's way of thinking, so you should not tend to generalize them or close your mind to other opinions. The most important part of the information in these articles is usually in the introduction and summary, the rest of the article serves to "justify" or support what is expressed there.
Special reports: they are usually the most outstanding articles since they can be written well enough to offer a complete vision, including their background, a certain subject or for the simple act of entertaining. In these cases, the most important thing is usually in the body of the text.
If you find a long document online, it is best to print it to read it. Reading very extensive documents on the screen is more tiring for the eye, in addition, details can be overlooked; although today it is possible to find programs that allow you to highlight, underline and annotate online content, although it is more useful to read on paper. On the other hand, you always have the option of copying the content of the article or document into a text program such as Word and there make the annotations, underlining and highlighting that you want.
When you face a document, think about the information you would like to find there: data? Definitions? Proposals? Practical experience? Doing this a priori will allow you to more easily detect the information as soon as you read it.
If you have to read technical documents it is important that you have a dictionary or a technical glossary at hand. It does not make sense to continue reading if you are not understanding half of what is written.
If a concept seems complicated to you as it is written, but important enough to highlight it, make a note rewriting the concept with your own words.