Consider the physical
factors which improve performance
In palaeography, as in any other physical and mental activity, there are
certain factors which improve your performance. Much of the following
might appear to be common sense, but it is worth bearing in mind, particularly
if you read or transcribe documents regularly or for long sessions. Factors
which optimise an individual's palaeographical performance vary from person
to person, but in general, when you are relaxed and healthy and interested
in what you are reading, you will be most effective. Be aware of the following:
If you are reading documents for more than an hour or two, make sure your performance is optimised by taking a short break every hour or so, during which you:
- Reading for periods of several hours can lead to eye-strain; your eyes need to focus on distant as well as close objects to maintain their optimum efficiency.
- Reading in artificial light for any length of time can result in a headache.
- Sitting for any length of time cramps muscles and leads to aches and pains in the back, neck and arms.
- What you eat and drink can affect performance. Dehydration, which causes the brain
to work less efficiently, can be caused by drinks containing caffeine
or alcohol while sugary and processed foods can make you sluggish, despite
the initial rush and thus impair your performance
A short break of at least 15 minutes in every two hours spent reading will pay
off, both in terms of your palaeography and in your general well-being.
Taking breaks is still important, even if leaving the archive search room
or library reading room for short breaks is awkward (because of security
precautions such as bag and coat deposits, or because a canteen or place
to drink and eat is some distance away).
- Focus on objects in the distance such as posters and pictures on the walls, features of the room, etc. This exercises the eyes properly and can save you from headaches and eye-strain.
- Walk or move around a bit, or do some stretching and exercising. This helps the muscles relax, and can avoid aches and pains which distract you from reading.
- Drink a cup of water or some other fluid though go carefully with caffeinated or alcoholic drinks to avoid dehydration. If you drink any of these, take a glass of water or a soft drink as well.
- Eat something to maintain you blood sugar level though remember the caveats above about sugary and processed foods.