Ever wondered how some people read fast? Finish Books that you would take weeks to finish? Then this is the guide for you! It is a simple matter of patience…
when we’re young, the purpose of reading is to learn vocabulary and proper grammar. Therefore the way we have learnt to read in our young is designed to do that efficiently, not always transmit information effectively. What we have to do, as educated adults, is re-orient the way we read to consume information and ideas efficiently. Grammar Knowledge and good regular used words vocabulary are prerequisites for this, but not the always purpose.
STEP 1: SHUT OFF YOUR INNER SPEECH
When we’re kids, we’re taught to read by sounding out every letter and then every word. As we grow older, we continue to read through an internal speech in our head. The problem is our eyes are capable of identifying words and sentences much faster than our inner speech can make sounds. The first step to reading faster and more efficiently is to stop sounding out the words in your head. This requires some degree of mindfulness and I actually think meditation can help with this. Mastering this, by itself, can double or triple your reading speed within a few days.
STEP 2: Speed Reading Is About Control, Not Speed
I dislike the way speed reading is often presented because it makes the skill seem to be only about increasing your top speed. As a result, many people are quick to judge that people can’t physically process more information or point out that comprehension goes down while speed reading. Speed reading is about controlling your reading rate, not just going faster. If you’re in a race car, top speed is important, but even more important is the driver’s skill at adjusting speeds to make careful turns. The ability to control your speed will make you a much more efficient reader than just blazing through text. A pointer helps with control because instead of just using your eyes, you can physically move your hand to adjust your reading speed. If you move your hand faster, you will be forced to read faster. Also, if you slow your pointer down, your reading will slow. This kind of control allows you to carefully read confusing or important sections of text and go faster through obvious text or pieces of fluff.
STEP 3: Active Reading
Most people read passively, that is, reading a book hoping the information will strike them across the forehead and declare, “Learn Me!” This is a fine practice when you’re just reading for sheer entertainment, but what if your reading serves a specific purpose?
Speed reading requires active reading. That means, instead of just assuming the information will jump out at you, you become an inquisitive, seeking animal. Before you start reading, prime your mind by asking what you’re hoping to get out of your reading session. Even if you aren’t 100% sure of what you’ll learn, this priming exercise allows your brain to notice relevant details more quickly.
Active reading also means stopping to think about what your reading, as you read it. Stopping to think may not sound like much of a speed reading tactic. It’s not, but it is a smart-reading tactic that everyone should employ. If you find something interesting, pause either to reflect or even note the information in your book.
Would you rather read something today and forget it tomorrow, or read it deeply and make it a part of you?
STEP 4: RELATE ANY IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO THINGS YOU ALREADY KNOW
When you start to go through a lot of books, you become concerned that you’re not retaining all of the information that you’re coming across. It feels weird because you can’t consciously recall everything immediately. So sometimes it feels like you read hundreds of pages for nothing. Sometimes you may feel the urge to quiz yourself on what you just read. But then you’re basically just replicating school all over again. And honestly, who remembers anything they learned in school?
The way the brain is set up, the majority of our memories will exist in our sub-conscious and only become accessible in relevant contexts. Ever been in a conversation with somebody and something they say suddenly sparks a memory you hadn’t thought about in years? Yep. They’re down there. They just need to be associated with something useful for them to come up.
This is why whenever you come across a new or useful idea, take a moment to relate it to something you already know, understand or use.
STEP 5: Make the Material More Interesting
I know, it sounds impossible. How can you possibly make statistics? But you can make material more interesting if you put some effort in before you pick up the book. No, you can’t make boring topics come alive as if they were the latest thriller fiction. But you can make them interesting enough that you can stay focused while reading.
When you’re approaching a book, imagine if you changed your perspective from, “Oh no, here’s some junk I have to read,” to “What could I gain from reading this, if I was really creative about it.” It’s not about confessing a secret love of accounting , it’s about keeping an open mind as to what accounting could teach you.
If you find the material more interesting, you’ll be able to read with complete focus. Complete focus can cut the amount of reading time in a third, without any loss in comprehension. That should be incentive enough to tweak your attitude.
Want to know your current reading speed? Pick up any book and do the following:
- Setup a timer for one minute
- Mark the line you started reading
- Start reading and stop when the minute is up
- Mark the line where you stopped
- Number of lines – Count the number of lines you’ve read
- Number of words per line – Take the second line and count the number of words in this line (including short words like I, and, etc)
- Number of lines X Number of words per line = WPM, your words per minute reading speed.
Try the above steps with your regular reading pace, and after practicing several tips from above, try the measuring steps again to see how much you’ve improved. Let us know how you did! Share your thoughts with us in the comment section.
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