How to Force Yourself to Read the Instructions First

The picture on the box makes putting together your new bike look so easy-why mess with long, complicated instructions when you can simply eyeball the picture design and get it done in half the time? If this sounds like you, you may be one of the many people who would rather “wing it” than sit down and go through a complicated instruction manual. Perhaps you get lucky sometimes and figure out how something works or can put the toy or equipment together, but for the most part you end up with five extra pieces and your daughter falls on her face because her bike disintegrates as she rides it. Like childbirth, people sometimes tend to forget some of the harshness associated with not reading the instructions first. However, for your safety and the safety of your family, here is how to force yourself to read the instructions.


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    Confront the reasons why you avoid instructions or instruction manuals. Some people consistently read the directions, cover to cover, but not you. Why?
    • You feel as though instructions are a waste of time. You just want the meat and potatoes of the new item and don’t need to know every detail about it.
    • You think that you already know what you are doing. Some people feel as though “they got this” and barrel through because assembling the item or administering the medication is easy.
    • You are too busy or in too big of a hurry to stop and read all the instructions. Many people work at the speed of light, trying to accomplish more in their day than Hercules. One glance of the instruction booklet and you know reading the directions will be way too time consuming.
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    Make yourself at least glance at the instructions whenever you receive a new item. Whether it’s a new entertainment system that must be put together or an upgraded iPod, tell yourself to pull out the instructions and at least give them a chance.
    • Recall the last time you tried to assemble/use something new and it blew up in your face. Hopefully the item didn’t actually blow up in your face, however there has to be a series of mishaps and misuses in your past if you’ve refused to read the directions. Think about what went wrong and why (most likely because you didn't consult with the instructions).
    • Have someone else hold you accountable. Tell your spouse, roommate or friend that he/she needs to back you up in your goal to read the instructions first.
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    Determine how important it is to read the directions. Ponder the ramifications of not reading the directions. In some cases, not reading the directions could put you or your family in harm’s way.
    • Is this an item that could put you or your family in jeopardy because you don’t read the directions? If you are administering medication or a safety device not reading the instructions could result in someone getting injured or possibly killed. For example, not reading the directions on how to safely install an infant seat in your vehicle could mean the difference between whether your infant makes it out of an accident alive or not.
    • Could you assemble or use the item incorrectly, which could cause harm to you or someone else? For example, if you are using an at home blood pressure reading system, could your avoidance of the instructions lead you to misread or misinterpret a reading (possibly making you miss life saving information)?
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    Consider that you could be missing out on important/exciting features. Remember the last time you “winged it” when putting together your entertainment system and only found out years later that the system had an extra component for storage.
    • You already spent the money for the item so make sure you make use of every penny. You may be paying for extra features that you aren’t utilizing, simply because you blow off the instructions.
    • Ignoring the instructions could delay progress. For example, if you receive an antibiotic from the doctor and the only way the pill is absorbed is if you take it on an empty stomach, it would be important to know this in order to hasten your recovery. You could be taking the pill with meals only to have to hit round two of the same medication because you aren’t getting well.
    • Your item’s features could save you both time and money. What if the feature you blew off finding more about could actually make your day run more efficiently or save you money in the long run? For instance, many new computers provide you with the “plug and play” capabilities, but until users read the instruction manual they will never realize that their system has built in features that can help them do their job or manage their day.


  • In some cases you don’t have to read the instructions cover to cover. Instead glance through them and then pay attention to the sections that pertain to your needs. For example, if you are reading instructions on how to take a certain medication, you won’t need to concern yourself with the pharmacology of the medication but instead how to properly administer it.
  • Consider mixing your original method with the instructions. If you like to look at the drawing or picture on the box when assembling an item, try supplementing your method with the instruction manual to ensure you put the item together correctly.


  • Always read instructions when it comes to administering medication. The wrong dosage or mixing certain medications can be lethal.

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Categories: Education and Communications