10 Bad Reading Habits and How to Avoid Them

Bad Reading Habits

As readers, we are always looking for ways to improve: we want to read more, we want to read faster, and we want to achieve better comprehension and retention levels. While that is easily understandable as a goal, what most of us fail to realize is that improvement sometimes only happens by eliminating the negative aspects of our performance. Bad reading habits are a part of our lives and only by learning to eliminate them completely can we achieve our maximum potential. 

Here at Basmo, we want you to have all the tools you need in order to become the ultimate reader. That is why we dedicated time and effort to finding out what the most common bad reading habits are and how you can remove them from your life once and for all.

What Are Bad Reading Habits?

Bad reading habits are defined as any behaviors or regular practices involved in our reading that are actually decreasing our performance, whether that performance refers to our speed, efficiency, information retention, or comprehension levels. 

The bad habits of reading are very varied and differ from one reader to another. There are hundreds of possible practices that could fall into this category and it is up to each and every one of us to learn to identify and eliminate them. 

Whether it’s something that hinders our reading speed, a habit that prevents us from reading as much or as often as we would like, or a concentration problem that makes us comprehend and retain less while reading, it is absolutely essential that we find and resolve the root cause of the issue.

One absolutely essential aspect of good and bad reading habits that we need to understand right from the start is that forming them takes time. Both good and bad reading habits are formed by doing that particular action consistently over time. So whether you are trying to form a good reading habit or trying to lose a bad one, you need to expect the process to take some time.

What Are the Most Common Bad Reading Habits?

As I mentioned above, bad reading habits are a lot more varied than you might imagine. That means that they can take countless shapes and forms and, in many cases, they can be quite difficult to identify. Following the examples of bad reading habits below, you can more easily work your way towards identifying your own and figuring out what you can do to actually fix them. 

1. Not Paying Attention

Probably the most common negative reading habit is doing it without paying attention. What we need to understand about reading is that while it does provide us with a series of important benefits, it is imperative that we also put in the effort to reap those benefits.

For example, reading with a low level of comprehension caused by the fact that we let our minds wander is not going to provide us with the same benefits as a reading session we dedicate our entire attention to. 

Letting our mind wander or paying attention to other things while reading is going to negatively impact a wide range of aspects regarding our performance. Our reading speed will be lower than usual, we will retain less from what we read, and our comprehension level will be much lower. 

2. Multitasking While Reading

Staying relatively on the same topic, multitasking while reading is yet another bad reading habit that is quite common and oftentimes overlooked. Yes, our schedules are generally incredibly busy, so it’s only natural to think that it’s fine to read while doing something else, but that is generally not going to yield the results we’re hoping for.

It has been scientifically proven that humans are incapable of actually multitasking. The human brain is not equipped for focusing on more things at once. What it does is actually switch from one area of focus to another in just a couple of milliseconds. While this quick way of alternating from one thing to another may give you the impression that you are able to focus on doing two or more things at once, the truth is that you are just alternating from one activity to another.

This is obviously not ideal, especially while reading when you need to actually pay close attention to the content in order to comprehend and retain the important information from it. 

3. Reading in Poor Lighting

We all have an idealized reading scenario. Reading in dim light, in a relaxing environment all cuddled up on a comfortable couch may sound like an amazing experience. And to be perfectly honest, it really is.

The problem is that reading in inadequate lighting conditions (such as reading in front of a fire with no additional light source) can have a negative impact on us. Reading in poor lighting is a negative habit and it can put unnecessary strain on our eyes, which can lead to a series of effects.

From headaches to the unbearable feeling of dry eyes and early-onset fatigue, there are quite a lot of unpleasant things you can easily avoid simply by reading in good lighting conditions.

4. Reading Without a Purpose

Having a good reason for doing the things we do is generally a great way to stay motivated and achieve the best possible results. Reading is no different. You always need to know why you are reading, what you are hoping to achieve, and what is your top motivator.

Are you reading to relax or for learning? Regardless of what your goal is, you need to be aware of it and keep it in your mind at all times. That way, you will get the satisfaction of staying on track and working your way up to achieving what you want to. Reading without a purpose is never going to provide you with the same benefits.

5. Reading With the Wrong Mindset

Many of us have the wrong mindset when it comes to reading. For most of us that stem from a bad relationship, we developed with reading in school. Back then we had clear reading lists, books were assigned to us and we had no choice but to read them even if we didn’t like them, and we started seeing reading as a chore.

Many of the negative reading habits we developed during our school years still affect us today. We wrongly believe that giving up on reading a book we hate is a failure, we consider reading to be something we have to do instead of something we want to do, and that clearly impacts our relationship with books and reading.

The beautiful thing about being an adult is that we have complete freedom when it comes to what we read when we do it, and how. We should take full advantage of it.

6. Reading at an Inappropriate Speed

Many readers pay little or no attention to their reading speed and that is generally a mistake. An inadequate reading speed can have a hugely negative impact both on the reading experience and on our performance.

Whether we are reading too fast or too slow, this can negatively impact our reading habits. Reading too slowly is going to take its toll on the rate at which we progress through a book, which is guaranteed to make the process boring.

Reading at a speed that is too high can hinder our understanding of what we read, which is also less than ideal. 

7. Not Taking Breaks

An important aspect of reading most of us tend to overlook is taking breaks. Reading, when done right, is a mentally challenging activity and it can take its toll on us, especially during long reading sessions.

It is always important to keep this in mind and take breaks preferably at least once per hour. There are many benefits of taking breaks while reading: 

  • You avoid the onset of fatigue which will keep your concentration, comprehension, and retention levels higher for longer periods of time
  • You avoid putting strain on your eyes
  • You avoid putting strain on your body

Taking a 5-minute break every hour will always have a better effect on your reading performance and will help you stay on track with your own personal reading-related goals.

8. Reading More Books at Once

While reading more than one book at a time isn’t a bad reading habit in itself, it can hurt your performance quite a bit when done wrong. If you pay attention to your performance and you are perfectly aware of your limits, things can work out great: you can easily read more than one book at a time from different locations for example (one book at home, one book on your daily commute), as long as you don’t start feeling overwhelmed.

Some people are able to read even more than two books at once without having any issues, but you need to pay attention to your performance and you need to adjust as you go. 

9. Not Having a Clear Reading Schedule

Having a chaotic reading schedule is never a good idea. If you are serious about your reading and you want to be able to achieve a good level of performance, you can’t just read whenever you have a couple of minutes to spare.

While that is better than not reading at all, it still is far from ideal. In order to actually develop healthy reading habits, one of the first things you should do is learn to get yourself properly organized.

Having a clear reading schedule comes with a series of amazing advantages for your reading habits and performance because it adds a bit of structure to the table.

10. Not Paying Attention to Your Reading Environment

Where you read is generally almost as important as what you read. Not choosing your location properly can lead to a series of issues that will negatively impact your performance and your reading experience.

A loud, distracting environment will make it hard or close to impossible to actually focus on the things you are reading about which will cause you to re-read the same passages over and over again. This is both frustrating and counterproductive.

Wherever you choose the location for your reading session, make a habit of paying attention to a couple of things. Make sure it isn’t too loud, that the lighting is good, and that you won’t be interrupted.

How to Overcome Bad Reading Habits?

Overcoming your bad reading habits can be quite an ordeal, especially if you don’t go in with the right tools or the right mindset. The most important step in your battle to lose your negative reading habits is to identify them. While that is easier said than done, the bad reading habits examples above should make this task a lot easier for you.

One of the easiest and safest ways to overcome bad reading habits is to actually replace them with good habits. And when it comes to developing good reading habits, nothing is more efficient than Basmo.

Our reading tracking app comes fully packed with features that will help you become the best reader you can possibly be. You will be able to take advantage of the following ways of creating healthy reading habits:

With Basmo, you can schedule your reading sessions. That means that you will no longer read whenever you have some time. You will be able to set your preferred days and different times of day for each particular reading session, and the app will even send your reminders before each session.

You can set yourself goals. As I mentioned, reading without a clear purpose is generally not going to lead to great results. With Basmo, you can set daily or yearly goals either for the number of minutes you read every day or for the number of books you want to go through within a year.

You can keep your reading speed in check. Paying attention to your reading speed and finding the balance between speed and comprehension is extremely important if you want to get rid of harmful bad reading habits. With Basmo, you will have access to a bunch of metrics related to your reading performance, which will allow you to carefully analyze what you need to improve or change.

Final Thoughts

Losing your bad reading habits can have a hugely beneficial effect on your reading performance. Use Basmo to identify and improve your reading habits. It’s easy and fun.

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