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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 27, 2020

    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.

    Here’s How to Create a To-Do List that Super Boosts Your Productivity.

    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.

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

    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.

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    You can also read more about how to do time boxing here: Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks

    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.

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    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.

    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.

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    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)

    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 Tips

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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