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Thread: Help! How do you stay awake when reading long documents?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Help! How do you stay awake when reading long documents?

    I need some tips on active, alert reading! I love to read, but I have always had a problem with reading when I have to, not because I choose to. I have a few long documents on my desk that I need to read but as soon as I start I get sleepy... Even when it's something I'm interested in.

    With the current document, scanning for the main points in not an option (that was my tactic for surviving university). I'm trying to read the European Prestandard ENV 14383-2: Prevention of crime - Urban planning and design - Part 2: Urban planning.

    Got any tips??

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Honestly? Take it home and take it in bed with you on a Saturday afternoon and take a 10 minute nap every 20 or 30 pages or so. The brain actually needs the sleep for effective processing of such things. That is how I got through an OSHA compliance class -- one of those classes where I was swearing to my sister that if I didn't pass it the first time through, I was going to drop out of my degree program.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Some things have worked for me:

    - Take notes as you read along.
    - Find a stimulating environment, like a sunny beach packed with women in bikinis.
    - Coffee, and coffee shops.
    - Read aloud as if it were a speech or play. Try doing it with different accents. I can do a pretty decent impersonation of Apu Nahasapeemapetalon.
    - Read the Cliff Notes.
    - Use it to your advantage. Spread the reading out over a few days and read a chapter a night to help you get to sleep.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

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    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    Coffee doesn't work for me if I'm bored, it just makes my mind wander more.

    What I do is try to engage the text. Try to visualize what it's talking about. Develop arguments for or against the writer's points. Evaluate your understanding of the subject in light of the writer's arguments or evidence. Most usefully: ask questions. That'll help pull you through the text in the hope of getting the answers.

    I read a ton of non-fiction for fun, and I've noticed that I do all of those things without thinking about it when I'm reading something interesting. So the art of reading something you have to read is forcing yourself to be interested in it, using the above methods.

    To start out, try thinking up things that you want to learn from the text. Don't approach it as "I have to get through this" but rather "I hope to learn this, this, and this from the text." It's better if they're real abstract though, don't just come up with facts that you can skim to find.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Go someplace active such as a coffee shop or a park. (it is summer there) Remove your self from your typical surroundings to keep your mind active.

  6. #6
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    The moment you realize your eyes passed over a paragraph without absorbing a word STOP. Take a very short break, go to the bathroom, pour yourself another glass of Pepsi, let the dog out, or whatever for just a minute or two. Return to the same paragraph immediately afterwards. Repeat as necessary.

    Note, this is probably not the preferred way to do it (see others suggestions for preferred methods), but is useful when one HAS to get through a quantity of immensly boring stuff and are in a time crunch.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  7. #7
    Cyburbian JNL's avatar
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    Thanks people I am doing a combination of:
    Take notes as you read along.
    thinking up things that you want to learn from the text
    The moment you realize your eyes passed over a paragraph without absorbing a word STOP
    This is basically what I used to do when studying at university, I just needed a refresher and some encouragement to keep my eyes open! It's actually pretty interesting stuff. I have to learn what is proposed in Europe because I have responsibility for establishing something similar here Lots of responsibility for a young'un!

  8. #8
    Cyburbian el Guapo's avatar
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    1. Read this list fully before attempting practices outlined herein.
    2. Obtain a fragmentation hand grenade.
    3. Clutch grenade with hand fully securing grenade spoon.
    4. Pull pin from grenade.
    5. Read large document, knowing fully well that falling alsleep will result in your death or maming.
    6. Replace pin in grenade and store it in a safe place until more reading is assigned.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Trail Nazi's avatar
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    I play a game with myself when I read really boring work documents, like the one that I read this week on the Growth Management Initiatives for Florida. What a snoozer. I have to use multi-colored highlighters to highlight the important things. I think that if I took real notes, I probably impale myself from the boredom of writing it out.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian jordanb's avatar
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    One way that has worked for me in the past at school is to wait until the minimum amount of time before the exam in which you can possibly read it, then stay up for that time and read the whole thing straight through while in a cold sweat clutching a cup of coffee repeating to yourself over and over again "I gotta learn this stuff."

    It works great.

    The only downside is that you won't remember a single word of it fifteen minutes after the test.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Hceux's avatar
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    Here's a suggestion. I'm not even sure how common this idea is, but it's something that I've just done in the last year or so. It seems to work.

    What do I do?

    I type out whatever I think are important points, examples, or thoughts onto a word processing program. Print it off, then re-read it because it'll be like a summary of what you read for the first time. Plus, typing it out somehow makes me focus on what I'm reading and not get dazed away.

    P.S. It helps if you're a fast and an accurate typer.

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