While I still prefer to do most of my pleasure reading offline, I’ve found myself reading more articles, short stories, and other texts on the internet. (There’s something appealing about being able to carry an entire library in your pocket!) However, I’ve noticed that with this increase in screen-based reading, I’m a little more susceptible to fatigue and have more trouble concentrating.
Fortunately, I’ve adopted some new habits and explored some options that help to make screen-reading as smooth and painless as possible.
1. Adjust the Lighting
Screen brightness should reflect how well lit a room is or isn’t—the general rule is that the brighter the room, the brighter the screen.
Additionally, the amount of blue light coming from a screen may be harmful to eyes or lead to eye strain—try installing a program like f.lux, which is designed to reduce the amount of blue light that eyes need to filter, helping reduce eye strain and make reading easier. Bonus—most mobile devices have this built into their software now too, so check your settings!
2. Sit Up Straight
Tension headaches are sometimes hard to diagnose, especially if eye strain causes pain. Sitting up straight not only improves focus by allowing the body to take in more oxygen, it also minimizes tension in the shoulders and neck, helping reduce headaches.
3. Take Breaks
There are a couple “rules” out there in terms of how long to wait until taking a break from looking at screens. The 20-20-20 rule suggests focusing on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes of screen time, while others have suggested resting for 10 minutes for every 30 minutes. Regardless of the specifics, it’s important to rest the eyes after a considerable amount of screen time.
4. Drink Water
Excessive screen reading can dry out the eyes, leading to further eye pain and fatigue. Making sure to drink enough water (and remember that coffee, tea, and sugary drinks are all diuretics that don’t hydrate enough on their own) can help to keep the eyes from drying out.
5. Zoom In
Even if a specific website doesn’t have adjustable settings to change the font size, it’s easy to zoom in or out through browser tools to help make reading easier. Try Ctrl and + or – on a PC, or Cmd and + or – on a Mac.
6. Eliminate Distractions
Sometimes it seems easier to read a physical book because the experience tends to be a lot more solitary, whereas reading on a screen is prone to distractions like emails, IMs, and more. When reading on a screen, try muting incoming notifications and fighting the urge to check social media to really soak in the experience of reading a book, even if it isn’t a tangible one.
Have you come across any other helpful hints or habits while reading on a computer, tablet, or phone? Share them in the comments below!