How to get through your readings this semester

Don’t you all miss the days where our biggest worry in school was deciding how to spend out 15-minute recess and not tackling 40-plus page readings? 

Keeping up with a full or part-time course load is a lot and while we all live different lives, I think we can all agree that it’s difficult to get through readings while dealing with work, side hustles, family and so much more. 

Yes, I do (MOST of) my readings and yes, I know people who have passed their classes by not doing a single reading. But, if you have the drive to learn your course content, want to bump up your grade, or find yourself having trouble focusing—these tips are for you. 


Set a designated time 


If anyone knows what it’s like to have a busy schedule, it’s me. There are days where I’m on campus for 12-hours going to class and working and by the time I commute home, I just want to wash my face and knock out in bed. 

I set one day of the week that is my ‘designated’ day to do any school-related assignments and readings. For me, it’s my day off from class on Friday. Of course, not everyone is able to secure a day off from class so your ‘designated’ readings day might be over the weekend. 

If you find yourself having something to do every day, turn my tip on having a ‘designated’ day to a designated ‘hour’ where you can sit down, open your laptop or notebook and dedicate yourself to getting through that long politics essay from JSTOR. 

If you can only get through one reading in that hour, that’s ok. Find a routine that works in your schedule and that you can handle within your capacity. 


Look stuff up 


Ok, so we’re not all scholars out here. Let’s own it. Sometimes, we have to Google terms and people that we will hear others bring up and not have a clue what they’re talking about. 

I find that especially in classes that are not within my strength or familiarity, I need to rely on the holy search engine of Google. Searching up things that confuse you can actually lead you to other sources that may benefit your understanding more than what your professor has assigned to you to read. 

We all have different ways of learning and soaking in information, so if you come across a YouTube video that explains the history of some philosopher and it works for you—stick to it. There’s even resources online that can help break down complex concepts that may benefit you’re learning more than sitting in a two-hour lecture. 


Segment breaks 


Navigating through readings can make you feel restless and it can be a lot of information to unpack throughout one sitting. 

Going back to my ‘designated’ time tip, try to segment some breaks in between. If you’re reading off your laptop, your eyes will thank you. If you’re reading off a textbook, your neck will bow down to you. 

You can set breaks to yourself in different ways. For instance, you can let yourself get up and walk around for every 10 pages you read or maybe let yourself scroll on Instagram for a few minutes after 30 minutes of reading. Again, everyone will be different so you need to test out what works best for you. But as important as it is for us to get that degree, it is equally as important for you to take care of yourself and allow your mind and body to rest in between. 


Fuel yourself with food and water


I don’t know about you guys, but food heals my mind, body and soul. It motivates me, it gives me energy and inevitably it’s what I spend most of my money on—which I’m sure you can all relate to. 

If you’re going to sit down and do these readings, you better have some snacks next to you while you do it. It’s easy to forget to eat and drink water when you’re under a lot of stress so it might help to have it next to you as both a reminder and motive for you get through it. 

And treat yourself to good food, not just ramen noodles or whatever junk food that may be your go-to but maybe one of your most favourite snacks so it gives you that little extra boost of hype. 


Make notes to yourself 


It’s easy to copy and paste whatever is in your reading word by word into a Google Doc or page in your notebook. But, what I find most effective is making notes to myself when I do my readings.

What I mean by this, is writing notes that are personalized to me to understand and that help me comprehend what I’m reading about. I make colourful headings and subheadings like an overly organized girl but I also make acronyms for any long terms, write in short blurbs of what I need to remember about a historian for a future exam, highlight the things that my professor notes as important in class. 

You can re-read your textbook at any time, so if you are going to make notes, make sure they will benefit you later in the term when you got to study or prepare an outline for an exam. 

For anything else, remember that Ryerson offers study and learning support on campus. There are workshops on writing essays, citing scholarly articles and more. Don’t worry friends, we got this.