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3 Steps to Read a Book Every Day

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3 Steps to Read a Book Every Day

The universal reason people give for not reading is that they don’t have time. Since most people read around 200 words per minute (wpm), about as quickly as they speak, most people can take a week or two to finish one book. If you’re only finishing a book every few weeks, it hardly seems like a good use of time.

Luckily, anyone can learn to read a book every day. If you could read 5 times faster, you could theoretically get through 5 times as many books. You could learn new things much quicker, be more cultured, get through the news quicker in the morning, and more.

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The problem with normal speed reading is that it can be very hard to apply above certain speeds. You have to turn pages, or wait for them to shift on your e-reader, and moving your eyes around the page slows you down. But there’s an excellent solution that I use to get through a new book every day or two.

Step One: Learn to Speed Read

First you need to start training yourself to speed read. The easiest way is to simply start using Spreeder to practice (I’m not affiliated with them in any way). They have a few articles on how to speed read most effectively, but it can be distilled to these main points:

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  • Don’t speak the words as you read them. You can read faster than you can speak, so mouthing each word as you go slows you down.
  • Don’t try to read each word in your head, but rather create a mental picture of the overarching message being conveyed. Your mind also has a speed limit for speaking individual words.
  • Keep your eyes fixed on the center of the page and read from your peripheral vision. Be sure that you’re far enough from your screen for this to work.
  • You don’t remember everything perfectly when you read slowly, so don’t expect to remember everything perfectly when you speed read.

When you use Spreeder, start the application at 250 wpm. That’s a little above the 200 wpm rate that most people read at. As soon as you feel comfortable, add another 50-100 wpm. Keep going up in increments until you hit a ceiling that’s hard to get through–after a couple hours of practice I was able to hit 1,000 wpm.

The important thing is to not only increase your wpm, but also your chunk size. This means reading 2, 3, or 4 words at a time instead of just 1. Trying to read just one word at a time at 1,000 wpm is very difficult, but when there are 3 words it’s not so bad. You’ll learn to absorb blocks of text at a time instead of specific words. When you can get to 4 or 5 word chunks, you’ll be able to read most book pages in 2 or 3 chunks, which means you have to move your eyes significantly less than if you were reading each word individually.

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Step Two: Find Reading Materials

To use Spreeder, you need plain text that you can copy in to the application. This is can be kind of tricky. Amazon has heavy digital rights management (DRM) on their books, as does Barnes and Noble, so you can’t simple open the file up in Notepad and copy the text. There are a ton of free books online that are out of copyright (meaning they were published before 1942), and there are also places you can buy books in formats that are easily convertible to text (such as PDFs).

However you get the texts converted to plain text, make sure you are doing so legally. Piracy is illegal, and unfair to the author who spent his time and energy creating the book.

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Step Three: Create the Environment

Once you’ve taught yourself to speed read at a decent pace, and have some books you want to work through without Spreeder, you need an ideal reading environment. Speed reading at high paces is mentally taxing and after an hour you’ll likely find yourself tired. In addition, since it requires perfect attention and focus, any distraction (including music) can mess you up. You need as little sensory stimulation in your environment as possible.

Here are some additional tips to creating the perfect speed reading environment:

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  • Set aside at least an hour to read, and only to read. Don’t let other distractions interrupt.
  • Get noise canceling headphones or go to a quiet place. Playing white noise through headphones can help as well.
  • Make sure you have the screen at an optimal distance. Tablets are great for this because you can hold them right where you want them.
  • Have a way to take notes! When you burn through a book in an hour, you’ll naturally forget things. Taking notes along the way is very helpful

If you take the time to practice, and make yourself go slightly faster each time, you’ll quickly become a reading machine. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can learn new things, and absorb concepts that would have taken days or weeks before. At the same time, sit back and read in your normal fashion from time to time as well! Speed reading is mentally taxing, so if you want to read to relax you shouldn’t feel pressured to speed through it.

Featured photo credit: Books by Algiamil via SXC.hu

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Nat Eliason

Nat is the founder of the marketing agency Growth Machine. He shares lifetyle tips on Lifehack.

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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