Just because you’re not a bookworm doesn’t mean you don’t read. Actually if you think about it, we spend most of our time reading SOMETHING. Text messages, news articles, websites, magazines…these are all examples of things we read daily.
So why not improve your reading? Imagine being able to read everything twice as fast and remember it even better than before.
Well sorry if this disappoints you, but the secret to reading faster isn’t some magical technique. It mostly involves breaking the poor habits that are slowing you down.
Here’s some bad habits you need to quit that are holding you back.
Change Your Attitude Towards Reading
Instead of approaching a book thinking, “Ugh, here’s some more useless garbage I have to read” tell yourself “What could I gain from reading this? I love learning and I could learn something valuable here”.
It’s not about confessing your secret obsession with financial accounting (or whatever subject it is), it’s about always keeping an open mind as to what you can learn.
This mindshift alone will get you more motivated to read and follow these tips. Your attitude matters!
You know when you skip back a few sentences to make sure you read that part right...yeah, stop doing that. This is unnecessary most of the time and it interrupts the flow of what you’re reading.
As dorky as you might look, use a pointer to guide your eyes along the line that you’re reading so you keep moving forward.
You can use a pen or just your finger.
If you want to increase your pace then just move the pointer faster and your brain will automatically read faster to try and keep up with it.
Don’t Read Word-by-Word
Almost everyone is guilty of this habit since it’s how we learned to read in the first place: one-word-at-a-time. However, focusing on individual words can often make you miss the overall concept of what’s being said.
How are you reading this paragraph right now? Are your reading each distinct word or in blocks of 2, 3, or 4 words at a time?
Practice expanding the amount of words you read at a time by holding the text a little further from your eyes.This helps you begin to see chunks of words instead of distinct units.
Naturally, the more words you process at a time, the faster you will read!
Stop Saying Words in Your Head (Sub-vocalization)
How many times have you caught yourself mouthing the words you are reading or even whispering them to yourself?
This is called sub-vocalization, and it actually takes up a lot more time than needed because your brain understands a word much faster than you can say it.
When you do this, you’re basically limited to reading at the same pace as talking, and your brain can do MUCH better than that.
Eliminating this habit alone will increase your reading speed by an astonishing amount.
Who Says You Have to Read In Order?
Naturally, we read right to left and then downwards line-by-line. But most of the time there is more information presented than you actually need to know, and so reading every single thing becomes a waste of time.
Scan the page for headings, phrases in bold, and bullet points. These are usually what contain the core information.
There’s no law saying you have to read something in the exact order the author wants you to! Skim the fluff and soak in the key material
Hopefully you’re noticing that this is a common tip whenever you want to become more efficient at something.
Of course it’s hard to read when the TV is on, your phone keeps going off or there’s people talking all around you. This is especially true for speed reading which requires even more concentration.
Watch out for internal distractions too. Inner thoughts like rehashing a recent encounter or wondering what you’re going to do tonight is exactly what causes the “eyes moving down the page but not processing a single word” syndrome.
*Word of caution: not everything should be read quickly. If there is something where you need to understand the message completely, analyze thoroughly, or memorize the information then speed reading is probably not the best approach.
This usually goes for legal documents, a draft essay or even the emails you get from a loved one. These are better read completely, sub-vocalizations and all.
Of course, like any skill, speed reading will take practice, practice, and more practice.... so try starting with some easy material like an entertaining article or a novel.