I’m a great believer in writing it into your diary. If you had an assignment to do, you would write it into your diary, of when the deadline was, and maybe block out a bit of time to write that. I think that it’s a really useful thing to do a similar thing with reading, because I think that reading is one of those things that people always put off. And they think, well, they can ‘put it off’ or they think, ‘I can do that later, I can do that later’, and then they end up doing something much more interesting, and then they end up doing something much more interesting, you know, like going out, or chatting to your mates, whatever comes along, and you don’t do the reading. So I think that actually, putting a time in your study timetable for doing reading is a really good practical and simple solution to that. I think you need to keep up with the reading, there is nothing worse than, you know, getting to the middle of term and thinking ‘oh, my goodness, I don’t know what’s going on’, you know, ‘I haven’t done any of the reading to be ahead of myself’ and then you actually end up being behind. I remember when I was at university, this used to happen to me. I used to rush to the university bookshop and buy all these books, thinking that the books would ‘jump into my head’ and that I would become really clever at the subject. Whereas in fact, what I really needed to do was read something, rather than nothing. That would be my first tip, it would be to actually timetable it into the study.
I think that it is a good idea when you are reading to read with either a question, or an issue or a problem, in mind, so that what you are reading is actually responding to something that you have identified beforehand. Otherwise, I think that what happens a lot of the time is that you read (again, this has happened to me), and then you get to the end and you think ‘well, what was that about?’, or ‘what was the point of reading that?’ So, rather than going into reading blindly, go in with something that you would like to address, and realise that everything that you read isn’t necessarily going to address that issue.
A really important thing, and you will save yourself loads of time if you do this, in the future, in your academic career, is when you are reading, to make a note of:
- The name of the author or the editor
- The title
- The date of publication
- The place of publication – which we always ask for, and people always forget about, so if it is London or New York, or wherever it is.
- The publisher
So, they should be the first things that you write down.
And then, I think that it is really quite useful to write down quotes that jump out at you as being really useful. But then, after the quote, write down the page number, because if you don’t do that, what happens is that if you are writing your assignment, and then you think ‘oh, that’s really good, where did that come from?’ or ‘that’s really good’ or ‘ooh, I want to put in that quote without the page number’. So, you end up producing yourself with a huge set of extra work for yourself if you don’t write those things down’. So, do do that and you will save yourself a lot of time.