Why does My Mind Drift When I Read?

We all have those moments in reading when our focus is simply not there.

It can be frustrating when you’re in the mood to read a book but your attention doesn’t just seem to align with what you want.

Even the best of the best readers experience this from time to time. So don’t worry, you’re not alone.

This post will therefore get into the reasons why your mind drifts when you read and what you can do to keep your mind from doing this.

With this information, you can at least try and hone in on your reading and not be easily swayed away from it.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get into the reasons why your mind drifts when reading.


Distractions are basically anything that can get in the way of your reading.

A Distraction can be a person, a phone, laptop, TV, noisy neighbour etc.

Basically anything that can shift your attention from reading.

When you read around things or people that easily distract you, you’ll find it difficult to focus.

Which will in turn make your mind drift away. When this happens, you’ll lose your grasp on the thought process around what you’re reading.

Most people fail to keep up when they read around Distractions. Unless they’ve built up enough of a tolerance or lazer focus to completely ignore everything in the background and stay focused on the book they’re reading.


Fatigue is essentially a feeling of being exhausted, tired or simply being over worked.

Depending on your lifestyle, fatigue may or may not be experienced.

However, I’ll take a lucky guess and say almost everyone experiences fatigue at one point or another, because we are human after all.

Not being a 100% physically can make it difficult for you to perform an action like reading which requires effort and energy.

You may force yourself to get some reading done but it will be hard to keep your mind from drifting away due to low energy and exhaustion.


Unlike fatigue, stress is not always physical. Sometimes it is mental.

Stress occurs when you experience either physical or mental tension.

This is common for every human being and can leave you easily frustrated and angry.

It can be very difficult to keep your focus when you’re stressed because you won’t really be yourself.

Your mind will wander and drift away to think about the thing or things that have you stressed.

Working through stress can prove difficult but can be done by those that call on their will power to give them strength.

However, keeping focus will be a challenge.

Being preoccupied

Everyday life has its everyday challenges, nobody out there is just smooth sailing.

We all have things that pre-occupy our minds. For example, the one thing on my mind right now is typing and finishing this article.

Of course people are preoccupied with various issues.

My point with all say is to that,

When you have a lot on your mind it is very difficult to stay still and keep reading a book without your mind paying a visit to one of the things that have you preoccupied.

So you shouldn’t wonder why your mind may drift away if you have things on your mind.


A lot of people find it difficult to be stay in a single position for too long. The common saying goes “most people can’t sit still in a room alone for 30 minutes or more”.

This fact is actually true.

Most people fidget even without realising that they do so.

Reading requires attention and concentration which are things that call for a focused mind.

If you fidget too much, you’ll find it difficult to keep your concentration and overall focus.

Because your mind will easily drift away.


Multi tasking is the act of trying or doing a lot of things at once.

Some succeed and form a basic flow that can allow them to split focus and still be productive. But the truth is, for most people this is not an easy thing to do.

Even more so when reading is part of the tasks to be done.

When you have a lot of tasks to do your attention will split across all these things. So while you may be reading a book..it won’t be easy for you to stop your mind from drifting away to other tasks that you have to carry out.

How to keep your mind from drifting

Below are some ways you can keep your mind from drifting away to other things.

Become engaged

The conviction to read a book without having your attention shift to other things comes from your ability to get involved in the reading.

You may be thinking how you could get more involved in reading when you’re already reading.

well, what I basically mean is, being taken with your reading and actually being consumed by it.

Read slow, so you catch every detail and immerse yourself in the activity.

This will not only help you stay focused, but it will also improve your level of comprehension.

Read in quiet environments

Taking your reading to a place that can allow you to win at the activity is the way to go.

Most people choose the wrong places to read books in and this is the reason why it becomes difficult for them to tame their minds and keep it hooked on reading.

If you choose the right place to read, You not only allow yourself to read better, but you also subconsciously communicate to your brain that reading is the activity to be carried out.

This way, your brain won’t fight you as much and you’ll be in a much better position to read without your mind. drifting to other places.

Turn off your devices

Living in the 21st century is certainly a blessing. We have so much technology around us.

Almost everyone out there has a device of some sort that keeps them busy.

The most popular one of these is your phone.

If you want to focus on your reading without being distracted you have to channel your focus.

Having your phone on will have your mind drift off  which will eventually lead you to getting on the phone and abandoning your reading.

Therefore its a good practice to have your phone and other devices turned off so you eliminate their ability to distract you while you read.

If you’re reading on a device then it’s best to turn off the Internet and limit calls so you can hone in on your digital book.

Bribe yourself

Another good way to keep your from drifting while reading is bribing yourself.

Bribing yourself is giving yourself a reward whenever you finish reading a page or pages.

This can allow you to focus your energy because of the reward that’s to come after you read a certain amount of pages.

Avoid boring books

Interest is what ultimately determines how engaged a person is going to be on a book.

For this reason, it’s important that you watch what you read and avoid books that may bore you.

Keep things interesting by reading books that you have actual interest in.

Don’t be surprised if your mind drifts while you read you read something you have no interest in.

Related Articles You Should Read

Why Do I Quickly Forget What I Read?

Why Do I Study Better When I’m Tired?

What Are Some Effective Study Strategies?

Should You Take Notes When Reading?

Helpful Resources

Mind wandering in sentence reading: decoupling the link

How to Focus a Wandering Mind – Greater Good Science Center

The Solution to Your Mind Wandering Problem – Psychology Today

Does Your Mind Wander when You Need to Focus It? – Success Consciousness

A wandering mind reveals mental processes and priorities