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Reading strategies: A short guide

Creating the right environment

Do you prefer to work in silence, or do you prefer a little background noise to help you to focus?

Do you prefer to sit a desk, on a sofa, on a bean bag or on the floor?

Does it help if you know your friends are studying?

It is important that you create the right atmosphere in which to read and take notes, especially of you are working at home. Working in a well lit, comfortable but not too comfortable, space will help you focus on your reading.

Try to keep distractions to a minimum. Listening to music might drown out noisy neighbours, but you might end up paying more attention to the music than getting on with reading.    


There are many online guides to creating a good study environment,here are a couple:



Creating the library ambience wherever you are

Photograph of Barber Fine Art Library InteriorAre you the kind of person who likes gentle background sounds?

Are you missing being in a real library?

Do you work better if you are surrounded by other people going about their studies?

Do you miss the quiet buzz of the Library Café?

If you work better with gentle background noise and sounds of human interaction why not explore one of many recordings of library reading rooms:

There are many other recordings of libraries, offices, parks, cafés, etc., on YouTube and Spotify

Taking a break

It is essential to keep taking breaks in order for your mind to say fresh and receptive. Do not struggle to read too much in one go. Compared to long periods of solid study, shorter sessions of study with breaks:

  • Improves concentration,
  • Improves memory
  • Boosts energy
  • Boosts performance
  • Reduces stress and improves sleep
  • Improves health

It is important to set boundaries between your study time and your rest breaks. Don’t just sit there and start scrolling through social media as you are less likely to feel the difference. Take time to look away from the screen, take a walk, get a drink, get some fresh air or listen to music. If possible try to take some breaks away from your desk

The Pomodoro technique is one way to study during productive intervals and rest during breaks.  See our guide to Time management for more information on this and other techniques.


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