3 Tips for Staying Focused While Proofreading
Attention to detail is crucial for any proofreader. But how can you maintain your focus when editing long, dry documents? Or when working for hours on end? We won’t claim to have all the answers, but we do have three great tips for staying focused while proofreading.
1. Take Regular Breaks
Fatigue is the number one reason that even good proofreaders miss errors. And this usually results from trying to stay focused for too long without taking a break.
After all, the average human can concentrate for around 15-20 minutes. Thus, focusing on the tiny details of a document – commas, spelling variants, etc. – for hours on end can be tiring. And the more tired you get, the more likely you are to miss errors in a document.
The answer is to take short breaks on a regular basis. This could just be a few minutes to get a beverage or stretch your legs. But it will mean you come back fresh and ready to edit!
2. Get Rid of Distractions
Our next tip for staying focused while proofreading is to eliminate distractions.
This is mostly a matter of preparation. For example, when getting ready to work, you can:
- Find a space that is quiet and comfortable.
- Turn off any distracting devices (e.g. TVs, radios) that you don’t need for work.
- Install website blocking software to restrict access to social media and other distracting sites while you work (don’t worry: you can go back on Twitter when you’re done).
Sometimes, though, freelance life means you’ll be working in a public place. In these cases, noise-cancelling headphones can help you block out distractions and focus on work.
3. Eat, Drink and Go to Bed Early
Finally, the best way to improve your concentration span in the long term is to eat well, stay hydrated, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. In other words, live healthily!
We know this may come as a disappointment, as most proofreaders are rock ‘n’ roll rebel types, prone to staying up all night, causing trouble, and partying. The simple fact is, though, that a healthy diet and a few early nights will help you stay focused while proofreading.
You don’t have to be a saint all the time, of course. But we would encourage you to schedule any debauchery for times when you don’t have a deadline on the horizon.
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