I am an avid audiobook lover, but I wasn't always able to focus while listening. My mind would wander, and I'd soon realize that an entire chapter had gone by without my noticing.
After hearing other readers complain of similar problems, I decided to conduct some research and, together with my own experiences, came up with recommendations to help readers get the most out of their audiobooks.
If you've given up on audiobooks or have never given them a try, I encourage you to try these strategies. Audiobooks have greatly enriched my life and the lives of so many others. People who love to read could be missing out on the joy of audiobooks.
Improve your mental focus. If you aren't sleeping or eating regularly, your brain will be in no condition to focus on anything. As a writer, I sometimes get my days and nights mixed up, and I have to take measures to get myself back into a healthy sleeping routine. The same goes with meals. When facing a deadline, I often eat when I'm stressed, without consideration for regular meal times. Ironically, these bad habits undermine my goals.
Keeping your environment organized can also help with mental focus. I'll be talking about this in a future segment, but, for now, if you find you can't concentrate, try organizing the clutter around you.
Relax. Your mental focus can also be improved by using relaxation methods and imagery to overcome worry. The more anxious, nervous, or stressed you feel, the more easily you can be distracted by outside stimuli. When you're anxious or stressed, your body is on high alert, and your brain is paying attention to everything around you. Before you attempt to listen to an audiobook, try some deep breathing exercises. A calming bath may also get you in the right frame of mind.
Eliminate distractions. Sometimes, instead of trying to focus harder, we may need to simply eliminate all distractions. When you're first getting into an audiobook, choose a quiet room without any music or other sounds. Turn out the lights. Let your friends and family members know not to disturb you. Turn off all notifications. Use deep breathing exercises to clear your mind. Give yourself twenty minutes to focus on this one thing: your audiobook.
Limit your listening activities to mindless tasks. Once you've done the above, it's time to integrate audiobook listening into your daily routine. Listening to audiobooks can make many obligatory duties, like driving in traffic, waiting in line, and completing household chores, much more enjoyable; however, it's important that they be rather mindless. For example, I can listen to an audiobook while I'm driving on a familiar route, but if I'm traveling someplace new and need to pay attention to directions, there is no way I can listen to an audiobook. Likewise, I can listen to an audiobook while I'm waiting in line at the grocery story, but while I'm hunting for items on my list, I can't also listen to my book. Listening to my audiobook during a daily walk is a special treat.
Have an audiobook on you at all times. For the reasons stated above, you can get more out of your audiobooks if you always have one handy. Throughout your day, you never know when you will have some idle time: while you're waiting for your meeting or appointment to begin, while you're sitting in traffic, while you're waiting for your friend to arrive for your lunch date, or while you're walking across a huge parking lot to your building. Having an active audiobook and earbuds with me at all times makes it super easy for me to get through lots of books while adding little spots of joy throughout my day.
Take short breaks. I rarely have the chance to listen to my audiobooks for long spans of time, but, when I do, taking a short break can help me to better focus. This is true for any activity requiring our attention. Pause the audiobook to go get a drink or a snack or to take your pets outside. Just five minutes can be enough to help you to stay on track with your book.
Alternate between reading and listening. It can be easier to get into an audiobook if you start reading the book in ebook or print first. Once you're familiar with the world and the characters, you won't have to work so hard to listen. If you're having problems with your mind wandering while listening, try alternating between reading and listening. You will soon find that you're so into the story that focus is no longer a problem.
Keep practicing. Sometimes it takes a while to train your mind to focus while listening to audiobooks. Try the strategies I've listed above and keep practicing. You might be wondering why I would encourage you to go to all this trouble, when you can easily carry your ereader or paperback around. Well, you can't read a book while you're stuck in traffic. You can't read a book while you're crocheting or knitting a familiar pattern. You can't read a book while you're performing household chores. It's easier to get away with wearing earbuds when you're at a party or seminar you don't want to be at than it is to whip out a book. Don't give up on audiobooks. They've enriched my life and they can enrich yours, too.
If you would like to listen to free samples of my audiobooks, please go here.
I hope you found this article helpful. Now go forth and read more books!
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