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Reading 200 Books a Year Is Possible If You Master These Two Skills

Reading 200 Books a Year Is Possible If You Master These Two Skills

Some of the most influential people in the world have said that reading is the key to knowledge, expanding your mind and understanding and gaining true success. But as an average Joe, how many books can we conceivably read? You might get through a few books a year if your attention span lasts that long, or more if you’re really an avid reader.

But what if I told you that it’s possible to read 200 books a year? And in doing so opening your mind and creating a better path to success?

Why Do We Find it So Hard to Read Quickly?

So now you’re probably thinking 200 books a year is a ridiculous feat and in no way, shape or form do you have that kind of time!

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According to the maths, it will take 417 hours to read 200 books when reading at 400 wpm [1]. If you think you don’t have 417 hours to spare then consider that the average person spends 2250 hours a year watching TV and checking social media combined. So when you think of it like that, you realize a bit of prioritizing can make it possible.

But reading at 400 wpm is a considerable speed and many of us aren’t used to reading at that kind of pace. When it comes to reading for pleasure, taking your time can be relaxing but if you’re wanting to read for self-growth and expanding your mind, the more books the better.

So why do we find it hard to speed read? The answer is most likely because we unconsciously use vocalisation while we read which will slow down our speed to about 200 wpm. And our fear of missing out makes us read everything which doesn’t benefit us much actually.

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Stop Vocalisation: Just Read with Your Eyes

Why do we vocalize? When we learn to read we are taught to read out loud and this habit stays with us although we internalize the narration instead. In other words, we imagine speaking the words.

This means our talking speed is also our reading speed so how can we stop this habit?

It’s all about understanding that the words aren’t important but rather the ideas, concepts and information behind them. We do actually do this for a number of words, for example when we see the date 1981 we may not vocalize the words nineteen-eighty-one in our head but by just looking at the year we understand its concept.

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There are several ways to minimise vocalization:

  • Force Yourself to Read Faster. When you speed up your reading you naturally take in the concepts behind the words rather than thinking about every word. With a bit of practice your brain can eliminate the need to vocalize the words and you gradually get better at it.
  • Guide Your Eyes With Your Fingers. It seems like a child-like thing to do but guiding your eyes through each sentence with your fingers is a good speed-reading technique. It minimizes vocalization and allows you to focus on groups of words rather than individual ones. It stops you from fixating and naturally speeds you up.
  • Listen to Music. This only works if you listen to neutral music that doesn’t elicit memories or has a strong beat. Listening to music while you read helps you concentrate and eliminates the habit of vocalization.

Overcome the Fear of Missing out and You’ll Gain More

Another habit that slows down our reading is the concept of missing out. Our brain tends to believe that if we don’t read every word then we may miss out on understanding an important part of the chapter or story. However, this is rarely the case.

The importance is more in understanding the concept and we can do this without absorbing every word and sentence. Of course, this mainly applies to a book where we’re obtaining information.

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  • Get Over the Fear. It really is about getting over the fear that not taking in every word is going to hinder your understanding. Let go of this need.
  • It’s About Getting The Main Concept. If you believe you’ve understood the main concept without reading every word or every chapter then you probably have. Trust yourself more and remember that you can always go back later on.

Speeding up our reading doesn’t have to mean cutting down on the quality of our reading. Understanding these two key skills will help you towards reading much quicker and therefore exposing yourself to more information. Reading 200 books a year is possible so why not try it out and challenge yourself? Try these techniques and get speed reading.

Reference

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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Last Updated on July 10, 2020

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

The Power of Ritual: Conquer Procrastination, Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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