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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 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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