“Its all about the state of flow”
Today marks the completion of the 7th day of daily reading. Well done for sticking to your routines in the 1st week. By now, you have read articles ranging across the genres of Self-help, Fact, Travel, Environment and about Ideas.
I am certain that you would be having two questions in your mind –
a. How do I remember the new words I am reading in each of the articles.
b. How do I increase my reading speed?
Let’s address the former first.
Thanks (but no thanks) to our education system, the way we approach reading is quite orthodox and academic. We all are used to making a dash and reaching out for a dictionary whenever we would encounter a difficult word while reading something. In our childhood days, it would be a physical one whereas today, it’s digital – either on an app or a google search.
The issue with this approach today is that it breaks the state of flow. This word flow has been popularized by renowned happiness researcher Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. If you just tried to enunciate his name & struggled to do so, well then welcome to the club. 🙂
In Csikszentmihalyi’s words, flow is “a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it” (1990).
Each time that we are reading the daily article, we are immersed in the content, trying to picture what the author is trying to convey. And right then, for every unknown word we encounter, we end up breaking our state of flow to make that dash for the dictionary. It’s quite like facing a speed breaker when you are on an expressway – jam the brakes!
Imagine what would happen to that flow when there would be around 10-15 words in each article. Forget about the state of flow, completing the article would itself become a challenge.
At the risk of being judged, let me tell you that I am not asking you to overlook unknown words altogether. The second-order benefit of reading is the enhancement in every reader’s vocabulary, which must not be overlooked.
All I am asking you is to do this – Every time you come across a word you don’t know while reading the article, ignore it. So what if you couldn’t understand the word, you will still understand the entire sentence. And in the rare chance that you couldn’t understand what the author has tried to convey in the sentence, you will still understand the paragraph overall. And if you didn’t understand the paragraph – well then that’s the failure of the author, not yours.
After you have completed reading the article and marking your n.Done‘s in the group, then come back to the article, find all those words that you didn’t know about and write them all down into an article journal (1). Later in the night, before you doze off, try to find the meaning through an app like Wordweb (been using it for 8 years now) and write them alongside. This could, in the long run, become part of a shutdown ritual (2) of its own and by large extent also serve to reinforce the article that you read, earlier in the day.
By following this as a regular practice, you will be reading more immersively as you would have allowed the state of flow to prevail. And believe you me, due to the state of flow, you will understand and remember the article even more. As a trickle-down effect, the total time taken to complete reading the article would have decreased considerably, if not drastically.
Talking about increasing the reading speed – well let’s practice deliberately to attain a state of flow while reading first, isn’t it 🙂
1 - More on Article Journal in the Sunday Group Hangout on 12th July. 2 - Tuesday Tip #2 - Shutdown Ritual