ADHD Reading Tips

Skimming ain't reading. Let me repeat that: skimming ain't reading.
Treating ADHD Blog | posted by Bill Mehlman
Bill Mehlman blogs about treating adult ADHD for

Skimming ain't reading. Let me repeat that: skimming ain't reading.

I read for a living. Proofreading and copyediting bring home the bacon. OK, I don't eat much bacon any more, if only to avoid having to shell out for the Lipitor, but you get the idea. Everything I do should be perfect, but there's some stuff that's more critical than other stuff. If I miss a comma in a novel, it's not great, but the world will keep on spinning (remind me to see if there's a connection between the moon's phases and my use of threadbare metaphors). When I'm reading legal or financial documents, a missing period can be a disaster. So I've taught myself to read carefully, word by word, character by character if necessary. There's a difference between reading for comprehension and reading for typos. It's just hard to turn the different modes on and off.

This doesn't apply when I'm not getting paid for reading. Twice already today, I've allowed my eyes to wander over a page, only to realize that I had almost no idea what I'd read. The first document was from my health insurance company, so I had an excuse; even after I'd read it carefully, underlining as I went, I was lost. Am I being overly cynical, or is it intentional? You know how card sharks and magicians "force" a card on you, getting you to pick the card they want you to pick out of the deck? I wouldn't be surprised to find that some arm-gartered, eye-shaded parasite at a long-defunct insurance company figured out that if he made the text unreadable, you'd sign your name on the first available dotted line, just so you could stop reading.

The second item, however, was an interesting article about how to sell on eBay. After two pages, I realized that what my brain had snagged from these pages consisted of the words "eBay," "profits," "shipping," "Sevres" and "garage sale." The connections among these terms were nil. I went back and re-read the piece, carefully, and found out exactly what I wanted to learn.

Check yourself when you're reading. Do a little self-testing. If you can't tell yourself, in one simple sentence, what the author wished to convey on that page, you ain't reading. You're skimming.

Knock it off.

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