Increasing focus while reading in grad school

Hi there! I am a grad student and I have noticed my focus when reading is not great which impacts my comprehension and I am frequently going back to re-read sections I zoned out during. I really want to work on this so I can be more efficient. I am not finding a lot for adults on this. Anyone have any suggestions on how to track and intervene here? I did find a cool AI tool that will self generate reading comprehension checks based on text you enter but not sure on the validity or reliability of that measure. Would love any suggestions!

Are you reading digital text or printed text?

Digital primarily

I think the book Ultralearning mentions several solutions to this problem. For example “active recall”. I recommend writing anki flashcards. As for tracking events, you could either record a general amount of unfocusing at the end of the day on a 1-0 scale or record reading as it happens and also record if you have been focusing and anything else relevant. This last is called manual time tracking. Edit: please tell me about the cool AI toy!

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Also what about this:

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Thanks for those suggestions! I will definitely check them out. Here is the AI tool: English Reading Comprehension Questions Creator. After some use though, it seems like it needs more work. It doesn’t reliably generate questions or understand inputted answers. Idea is cool though.

What is your natural reading speed? Mine is slow, very slow in fact putting me into the 23rd percentile. There is nothing I can do to improve this as it is a fundamental part of my dyslexic profile. Although in compensation my comprehension is up in the 97% percentile. (It’s that disparity that makes me dyslexic.) This was the best thing that happened to my study skills in my university study. No need to stress about reading faster.

On the practical level I need silence when reading, which means that university libraries are out. Although reading while commuting on the London Underground is okay as the sounds are predominantly low level white noise. It is speech and music that distracts me. Also interruptions from other people even if [those] are course related are a real bind. One of the reasons that I turn off all notifications of new email, new text messages. If I can, I let phone calls go to voicemail. It’s my time and I want to use it my way not be beholden to someone else to manage it and therefore control my focus.

Sometimes consider a symptom of dyslexia. Perhaps get an ed psych test.

Most useful tool I found for keeping focus is pomodoro technique.

25 minutes focused reading/work - 5 minutes break with moment. I have several ca. 5 minutes youtube videos I use - stretches, weights, just dance, breathing, meditation.

Sometimes when I am in flow i can just keep going. Other times the ‘just 25 minutes’ keep me going.

Get kitchen timer so phone does not distract. And like suggested also all notificafions off, environment without distractions.

The book ‘Make it stick’ by Peter Brown et al. 2014 outlines all the best learning techniques - highly recommended.

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Pomodoro is good. Also try using and slowly increasing your reading speed on the text you input as a kind of workout to increase speed (short term)


Like @Kyrill_Potapov I found useful. For me it is best for getting through a volume of material that I need to be familiar with but will not pose any important thinking challenges, such as collection of cited papers that are mostly for background.

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