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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 November 19, 2019

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    20 Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity

    Are you usually punctual or late? Do you finish things within the time you stipulate? Do you hand in your reports/work on time? Are you able to accomplish what you want to do before deadlines? Are you a good time manager?

    If your answer is “no” to any of the questions above, that means you’re not managing your time as well as you want. Here are 20 time management tips to help you manage time better:

    1. Create a Daily Plan

    Plan your day before it unfolds. Do it in the morning or even better, the night before you sleep. The plan gives you a good overview of how the day will pan out. That way, you don’t get caught off guard. Your job for the day is to stick to the plan as best as possible.

    2. Peg a Time Limit to Each Task

    Be clear that you need to finish X task by 10am, Y task by 3pm, and Z item by 5:30pm. This prevents your work from dragging on and eating into time reserved for other activities.

    3. Use a Calendar

    Having a calendar is the most fundamental step to managing your daily activities. If you use outlook or lotus notes, calendar come as part of your mailing software.

    I use it. It’s even better if you can sync your calendar to your mobile phone and other hardwares you use – that way, you can access your schedule no matter where you are. Here’re the 10 Best Calendar Apps to Stay on Track .

    Find out more tips about how to use calendar for better time management here: How to Use a Calendar to Create Time and Space

    4. Use an Organizer

    An organizer helps you to be on top of everything in your life. It’s your central tool to organize information, to-do lists, projects, and other miscellaneous items.

    These Top 15 Time Management Apps and Tools can help you organize better, pick one that fits your needs.

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    5. Know Your Deadlines

    When do you need to finish your tasks? Mark the deadlines out clearly in your calendar and organizer so you know when you need to finish them.

    But make sure you don’t make these 10 Common Mistakes When Setting Deadlines.

    6. Learn to Say “No”

    Don’t take on more than you can handle. For the distractions that come in when you’re doing other things, give a firm no. Or defer it to a later period.

    Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits has some great insights on how to say no: The Gentle Art of Saying No

    7. Target to Be Early

    When you target to be on time, you’ll either be on time or late. Most of the times you’ll be late. However, if you target to be early, you’ll most likely be on time.

    For appointments, strive to be early. For your deadlines, submit them earlier than required.

    Learn from these tips about how to prepare yourself to be early, instead of just in time.

    8. Time Box Your Activities

    This means restricting your work to X amount of time. Why time boxing is good for you? Here’re 10 reasons why you should start time-boxing.

    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: #5 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity.

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    9. Have a Clock Visibly Placed Before You

    Sometimes we are so engrossed in our work that we lose track of time. Having a huge clock in front of you will keep you aware of the time at the moment.

    10. Set Reminders 15 Minutes Before

    Most calendars have a reminder function. If you have an important meeting to attend, set that alarm 15 minutes before.

    You can learn more about how reminders help you remember everything in this article: The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder That Works)

    11. Focus

    Are you multi-tasking so much that you’re just not getting anything done? If so, focus on just one key task at one time. Multitasking is bad for you.

    Close off all the applications you aren’t using. Close off the tabs in your browser that are taking away your attention. Focus solely on what you’re doing. You’ll be more efficient that way.

    Lifehack’s CEO has written a definitive guide on how to focus, learn the tips: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    12. Block out Distractions

    What’s distracting you in your work? Instant messages? Phone ringing? Text messages popping in?

    I hardly ever use chat nowadays. The only times when I log on is when I’m not intending to do any work. Otherwise it gets very distracting.

    When I’m doing important work, I also switch off my phone. Calls during this time are recorded and I contact them afterward if it’s something important. This helps me concentrate better.

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    Find more tips on how to minimize distractions to achieve more in How to Minimize Distraction to Get Things Done

    13. Track Your Time Spent

    When you start to track your time, you’re more aware of how you spend your time. For example, you can set a simple countdown timer to make sure that you finish a task within a period of time, say 30 minutes or 1 hour. The time pressure can push you to stay focused and work more efficiently.

    You can find more time tracking apps here and pick one that works for you.

    14. Don’t Fuss About Unimportant Details

    You’re never get everything done in exactly the way you want. Trying to do so is being ineffective.

    Trying to be perfect does you more harm than good, learn here about how perfectionism kills your productivity and how to ditch the perfectionism mindset.

    15. Prioritize

    Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.

    Apply the 80/20 principle which is a key principle in prioritization. You can also take up this technique to prioritize everything on your plate: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    16. Delegate

    If there are things that can be better done by others or things that are not so important, consider delegating. This takes a load off and you can focus on the important tasks.

    When you delegate some of your work, you free up your time and achieve more. Learn about how to effectively delegate works in this guide: How to Delegate Work (the Definitive Guide for Successful Leaders)

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    17. Batch Similar Tasks Together

    For related work, batch them together.

    For example, my work can be categorized into these core groups:

    1. writing (articles, my upcoming book)
    2. coaching
    3. workshop development
    4. business development
    5. administrative

    I batch all the related tasks together so there’s synergy. If I need to make calls, I allocate a time slot to make all my calls. It really streamlines the process.

    18. Eliminate Your Time Wasters

    What takes your time away your work? Facebook? Twitter? Email checking? Stop checking them so often.

    One thing you can do is make it hard to check them – remove them from your browser quick links / bookmarks and stuff them in a hard to access bookmarks folder. Replace your browser bookmarks with important work-related sites.

    While you’ll still checking FB/Twitter no doubt, you’ll find it’s a lower frequency than before.

    19. Cut off When You Need To

    The number one reason why things overrun is because you don’t cut off when you have to.

    Don’t be afraid to intercept in meetings or draw a line to cut-off. Otherwise, there’s never going to be an end and you’ll just eat into the time for later.

    20. Leave Buffer Time In-Between

    Don’t pack everything closely together. Leave a 5-10 minute buffer time in between each tasks. This helps you wrap up the previous task and start off on the next one.

    More Time Management Techniques

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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