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How To Increase Your Reading Speed Without Losing Comprehension

How To Increase Your Reading Speed Without Losing Comprehension

Have you ever been in a group watching a PowerPoint presentation and felt like the presenter was switching slides too quickly- or that maybe everyone around you was reading at a much faster speed than you? While you may have felt left out, be rest assured that you probably had more company than you thought.

While your reading speed will vary with the content of the material presented, according to Staples, the average person reads 300 words a minute. Many factors will influence your reading speed outcome such as mood, lighting, and overall environment. If you are curious to know your reading speed, take the eReader test from Staples here.

As you may recall, growing up we were subject to many myths about reading. Some of the more popular myths included:

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Reading every letter makes you a better reader

The human brain is wired to process words, first and foremost, for understanding rather than for grammatical accuracy. This means that when reading, our brain’s first goal is to understand the meaning of the word and the context of a sentence. For further proof, try reading the following text:

myth1a

    Slow reading brings more enjoyment

    While this myth may easily be defied by most school-aged children, it is important to note that slowing your pace will not alter the content of your reading material. However, speed reading material that is of high interest to you will enable your brain to vividly picture the scenes from the text and thus create a much more rewarding experience for the reader.

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    Here are some easy ways to help you save time when reading, while maintaining your comprehension:

    1. Selectively skim the text

    This PsycNet study by H.Y. McClusky shows that contrary to the belief that every word must be read to understand a text, preliminary skimming can help save time when reading. However, you must do so appropriately in order to understand the message conveyed in the text. For example, it is highly recommended to always read the introduction and the conclusion of a text to ensure that the context of the material is not lost. Moreover, when reading a memorandum, you will need to ensure you read the subject line and first lines of the memo to understand the subject. Furthermore, reading the final paragraph of the memo will reiterate the points you skimmed over.

    2. Use a pointer

    While you may initially feel like you have reverted back to preschool, over time, you will learn to appreciate having a visual aid to help you keep track of your eye placement while reading a text. According to Mindtools.com, the use of a pointer forces your eyes and brain to keep a more focused pace. Try to read this paragraph from the beginning and use your index finger as a pointer, you will notice that your eyes will focus on the last line above your finger and the speed at which you move your finger will set your reading pace.

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    3. Have a purpose

    According to the National Council of Teachers of English, setting authentic purposes for reading will pique curiosity and prepare the mind for the information that it is about to receive. Whether it is for information or simply relaxation, try to have a purpose for reading the material at hand. Whether it is a required report for your next staff meeting or a whole chapter for next week’s history test, subconsciously this process will help to prepare your brain for the activity and thus accelerate comprehension.

    4. Read for enjoyment

    We are always more motivated to do something that we care about and it is no different with reading. Unlike what most may assume, slow readers do not dread reading, they simply may not have found something that piqued their interest. When reading, try to find topics that are of high interest to you and it will help the process. Your interest in the topic will make it much easier as your brain will quickly register the words. A 2012 study from the United Kingdom’s Department of Education shows that reading for enjoyment not only increased writing ability, text comprehension, and grammar but it also promoted greater self-confidence as a reader. Even with topics that tend to be tedious such as a lease agreements, putting a positive spin on the task will help your brain complete the process effectively. As they say, ‘practice makes perfect’; hence, your reading speed may not be as fast as it would when reading something truly interesting, but having a positive mind will help.

    Becoming a speed reader will not occur overnight, however with practice, you can become a quicker reader.

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    Featured photo credit: Reading Glasses on Book with Hot Tea Drink/ Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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    Last Updated on March 13, 2019

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

    Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

    You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

    Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

    1. Work on the small tasks.

    When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

    Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

    2. Take a break from your work desk.

    Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

    Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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    3. Upgrade yourself

    Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

    The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

    4. Talk to a friend.

    Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

    Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

    5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

    If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

    Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

    Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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    6. Paint a vision to work towards.

    If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

    Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

    Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

    7. Read a book (or blog).

    The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

    Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

    Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

    8. Have a quick nap.

    If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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    9. Remember why you are doing this.

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

    10. Find some competition.

    Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

    11. Go exercise.

    Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

    Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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    Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

    12. Take a good break.

    Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

    Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

    More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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