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7 Speed Reading Tricks by a Former Book-Hater

7 Speed Reading Tricks by a Former Book-Hater

snail speed

    I was never a big fan of reading… I blame it on the education system, of course. (Well, it can’t be my fault, can it?) You see, it’s difficult to enjoy reading when every book your teacher throws at you is of no interest to you whatsoever. So I hated it. It was a chore, not a pleasure.

    Then I finished school and went my own path. And soon I discovered that a different breed of books exists too – books that are extremely interesting. In fact, there’s so many of them that I don’t have enough time to enjoy them all.

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    It is obvious that there are only so many hours in a day, so if I want to be able to read more I have to learn to read faster. That’s where speed reading comes into picture. I’ve done some research and come up with a list of 7 critical elements of speed reading. Thanks to these tricks I’m able to read one book every week just by spending a couple of hours on Sunday.

    1. Don’t repeat

    This is the thing that really slows us down. Whenever you find yourself repeating the words in your mind or out loud you are significantly decreasing the speed of your reading. The goal is to read with your eyes, not with your mouth. The easiest trick around this is to repeat something else instead. Something like: “1 2 3 4 5” or “a e i o u”. This will occupy your mind with a simple activity so there’s no other way for you to read than to use only your eyes – which is the true secret of speed reading.

    2. Read with your finger

    The idea is simple. Just use your finger to trace under each line as you read along. The finger will determine your speed making it easy to speed up or slow down when necessary. Just remember, the finger determines the speed of your reading, not the other way around. Once you set specific speed, stick to it.

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    3. Focus

    This may sound obvious but it’s worth mentioning here. When I was reading something in the past, even if it was interesting, I found myself wandering off and thinking about other things, so I had to re-read the same sentence a couple of times. It was, let’s say, “doable” to read an article or a chapter of a book despite not being present with your mind. However, when you’re speed reading it’s totally impossible to do it and be thinking about something else at the same time, so focus!

    4. The third word rule

    Here’s what you do: start reading each line on the third word, and end each line on the third word from the end. Don’t worry, you won’t lose any information. Your eyes will catch those first and last words too, by using something called the peripheral vision.

    As an example consider such a line of text:

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    “Marry had a little lamb but she ate it for supper.”

    The words in bold indicate the focus points.

    5. Don’t read every word separately

    The easiest way of doing this is to read from a bigger distance (like 2ft). The goal here is to not focus on single words individually, but to read two or three of them in just one snapshot. So the idea is, you look at a fragment of text and read a couple of words all at once, then you take another snapshot of the words next to them, and so on.

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    6. Don’t skip back

    This is a very common problem. It happens without us even knowing it (at first). The fact that skipping back to re-read a single word (or even a whole sentence) slows you down is obvious. If you want to improve the speed of your reading you have to fight this habit. But first you have to acknowledge that it exists, realize that you are indeed doing it. Then simply try to stop. Reading with your finger helps a lot here, just remember to follow the finger at all times.

    7. Start too fast

    Start reading too fast to be able to comprehend everything comfortably. Then after a page or two slow down to the speed that’s comfortable for you. Just like driving on a highway, if you’re doing 90 and slow down to 70 it feels slow, but if you’re doing 50 and speed up to 70 it feels fast even though it’s the same speed.

    That’s it for this list. I hope it helps. Tell me, what is the number one trick in your own arsenal of speed reading techniques?

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    Karol Krol

    Blogger, published author, and founder of a site that's all about delivering online business advice

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    Last Updated on August 6, 2019

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Why Do I Procrastinate? 5 Root Causes And How To Tackle Them

    Procrastination is something many people can relate to and I, myself, have been there and done that. Yes, I write all about productivity now, but when I first started out on my career path, I would often put off work I didn’t want to do. And most of the time I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

    So what changed?

    I thought to myself, “why do I procrastinate?” And I started to read a lot of books on productivity, learning a great deal and shifting my mind to the reasons why people procrastinate.

    My understanding brought me a new perspective on how to put an end to the action of procrastination.

    Procrastination slows your goals and dreams way down. It can create stress and feelings of frustration. It rears its ugly head on a regular basis for a lot of people. This is particularly apparent at work with day-to-day projects and tasks.

    But, why do people self-sabotage in this way? Essentially, there are 5 reasons behind procrastination. See if you can identify with any of these in your own work life.

    1. The Perfectionist’s Fear

    Procrastination is sometimes a subconscious fear of failure.

    If you put off a task enough, then you can’t face up to the potential (and usually imagined) negative results. If you’re a stickler for minor details, the stress of getting things ‘just right’ may be too much and cause you to delay continuing the task.

    Either way, fear is at the root cause and can sabotage your desire to move forward.

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    How to Tackle It?

    Try visualizing the completion of your task in a positive way.

    For example, you have a presentation that your boss wants you to conduct for a potential client. Visualize yourself standing in the meeting room confident, meeting the eyes of the client and seeing them light up as you explain the concept simply and concisely.

    Imagine your boss telling you how great you did and you were the best person for the job. Think about how it would feel to you and focus on this as you move forward with the task.

    2. A Dreamer’s Lack of Action

    This is a person who is highly creative and has many brilliant ideas but can’t quite seem to bring them to fruition.

    The main reason for this is because there’s usually no structure or goal setting involved once the idea has been created. This aimless approach ends up manifesting as a lack of decision-making and significant delays on a project.

    How to Tackle It?

    Write down a timeline of what you want to achieve and by when. Ideally, do this daily to keep yourself on track and accountable for progression. Creative minds tend to jump from one idea to the next, so cultivating focus is essential.

    If you’re designing and creating a new product at work, set out a task list for the week ahead with the steps you want to focus on each day. Doing this ahead of time will stop your mind from wandering across to different ideas.

    Learn about how to plan your time and take actions from some of the successful people: 8 Ways Highly Successful People Plan Their Time

    3. An Overwhelmed Avoider

    This is one of the most common reasons for procrastination; the sheer overwhelm of a daunting task.

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    The complexity of a task can cause the brain to lose motivation and avoid doing it altogether choosing instead to stay in its comfort zone.

    The search then starts for a more enjoyable task and the harder tasks are put off. This can cause stress and dread when the task inevitably comes up to be completed.

    How to Tackle It?

    Break the challenge down into smaller tasks and tackle each one individually.

    For example, if you have a project that has technical elements to it that you know you’ll find challenging, list each step you need to take in order to complete these difficult elements. Think of ways you can resolve potential hurdles. Perhaps you have a coworker that may have time to help or even consider that the solution may be easier than you initially think. Put each task in order of most daunting to least daunting. Ideally, try to deal with the more challenging parts of each task in the morning so that momentum is created as the tasks get easier through the day.

    A reward system will also help you stay motivated so, once completed, you can enjoy your treat of choice.

    If you want to know how to better handle your feelings and stay motivated, take a look at my other article: Procrastination Is a Matter of Emotion, Here’s How to Stop It

    4. The Busy Bee Who Lacks Prioritization

    Either you have too many tasks or don’t truly acknowledge the differing importance of each task. The result? Getting nothing done.

    Time is spent switching constantly from one task to another or spending too much time deciding what to do.

    How to Tackle It?

    It’s all about priorities and choosing important tasks over urgent ones.

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    Make sure to question the value and purpose of each task and make a list in order of importance.

    For example, throughout your work day, you can waste a lot of time dealing with ‘urgent’ emails from colleagues but, you need to ask yourself if these are more important than working on a task that will affect, say, several office projects at once.

    Help yourself to prioritize and set a goal of working through your list over the next few hours reassessing the situation once the time is up.

    In my other article, I talk about an effective way to prioritze and achieve more in less time: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

    5. The One with Shiny Object Syndrome (Distraction-Prone)

    This is another common cause for procrastination; just simple distraction.

    Our brains aren’t wired to focus for long periods of time and it looks for something else. So throw in a bunch of colleagues equally looking for distractions or checking your phone mindlessly, and you’ve got a recipe for ultimate procrastination.

    However, this type of procrastination may not always be an unconscious decision to sabotage and put off work. It’s simply a result of your work setup or types of coworkers you have. Only you know the answer to that.

    How to Tackle It?

    Be mindful of your workspace and potential distractions. Schedule a specific time to converse with your coworkers, put headphones on to minimize listening to what’s going on around you, and switch your phone off.

    Aim to do this for 20-30 minutes at a time and then take a break. This will be a much more efficient way of working and getting what you need done. This is also why scheduling down time is so important for productivity.

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    Whether this type of procrastination is self-sabotage or being a victim of a distracting environment, either way you can take control.

    If you need a little more guidance on how to stay focus, this guide can help you: How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide)

    Bottom Line

    I’m going to be bold and assume you identified with at least one of these procrastination pitfalls.

    You could be trapped in the endless cycle of procrastination like I was, that is, until I decided to find out my why behind putting off tasks and projects. It was only then that I could implement strategies and move forward in a positive and productive way.

    I killed the procrastination monster and so can you. I now complete my tasks more efficiently and completely killed that feeling of stress and falling behind with work that procrastination brings.

    I know it’s not easy to stop procrastinating right away, so I also have this complete guide to help you stop it once and for all: Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com

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