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5 Useful Tools to Get You Speed-Reading Like a Pro

5 Useful Tools to Get You Speed-Reading Like a Pro

There are speed-reading believers and speed-reading doubters; methods from skimming, to chunking, to eliminating subvocalization; and, undoubtedly, a lot of curious readers. Whether you’re an annoyingly distractible reader or looking to push a decent reading speed into warp drive, the myriad of articles written on the subject suggest there’s plenty of interest in this technique.

Have you been interested in speed-reading and have yet to try it out? Here are five speed-reading apps and websites to get you started.

1. Squirt

Squirt is a web app for speed-reading that you install (by install, I mean drag a link) to your bookmarks bar. It’s also been recently updated to work with Gmail and HTTPS sites like Medium.com. Once you’re on the page you want to speed-read, just click the Squirt bookmarklet and it immediately launches, giving you a few second countdown before the software begins. Adjust the speed to suite your level, and voilà!

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2. Spritz

Spritz another web app that focuses your eyes on a single letter in each word as the app speeds them through the screen, keeping your eye movements to a minimum which is supposedly what allows you to read quickly as a result. Spritz’s website also states the tech can “be integrated into photos, maps, videos, and websites for more effective communication”, and speed can be adjusted to suit your level.

[Note: Squirt apparently has a bone to pick with Spritz (or maybe it’s the other way around) — check out the bottom of Squirt’s website]

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3. Spreeder

Spreeder is a free web application from eReflect, which, incidentally, sells full-fledged speed-reading education software to the tune of about $80. Skip the pricy bundle and use this tool to quickly read online content. You can copy and paste your text on the Spreeder site, or simply save the Spreeder bookmarklet and when you have something you want to speed-read, highlight the text, and click the “Spreed!” link on your browser, which opens Spreeder in a new tab/window with your text.

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4. Outread

This iOS app is a cool $2.99 (this stuff can cost up to $80 for no apparent reason) and is a great way to turn your iPhone or iPad into a speed-reading device. Speed-read not only webpages but documents, ebooks, and reading apps like Pocket or Instapaper on your Apple device. It’s highly customizable with multiple font sizes, highlighting sizes, and reading speed. Other super convenient features like offline mode, item filtering, and interface streamlining make this a whole lot of app for three bucks!

5. Eyercize

Eyercize is a free bookmark bar tool which, though realised in beta, never made it to a full paid product which was supposed to have other features in addition to the speed-reading tool. However, the speed-reading app itself still works perfectly well and is available for download.

This “reading pacer” bookmarklet works by bolding groups of three or four words at a time, which focuses your eyes so that you following the pace the software sets. A nice touch is the ability to control the speed of the pacer, and some of the other features, so you can start out slower or with fewer/more bolded words and work your way up as you get better at reading things quickly.

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Featured photo credit: Flippin’ through/Rahul Chhiber via flic.kr

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Do you think of yourself as a creative person? Do you play the drums or do watercolor paintings? Perhaps compose songs or direct plays? Can you even relate to any of these so called ‘creative’ experiences? Growing up, did you ever have that ‘artistic’ sibling or friend who excelled in drawing, playing instruments or literature? And you maybe wondered why you can’t even compose a birthday card greeting–or that drawing stick figures is the furthest you’ll ever get to drawing a family portrait. Many people have this common assumption that creativity is an inborn talent; only a special group of people are inherently creative, and everyone else just unfortunately does not have that special ability. You either have that creative flair or instinct, or you don’t. But, this is far from the truth! So what is creativity?

Can I Be Creative?

The fact is, that everyone has an innate creative ability. Despite what most people may think, creativity is a skill that everyone can learn and hone on. It’s a skill with huge leverage that allows you to generate enormous amounts of value from relatively little input. How is that so? You’ll have to start by expanding your definition of creativity. Ironically, you have to be creative and ‘think out of the box’ with the definition! Creativity at its heart, is being able to see things in a way that others cannot. It’s a skill that helps you find new perspectives to create new possibilities and solutions to different problems. So, if you encounter different challenges and problems that need solving on a regular basis, then creativity is an invaluable skill to have.Let’s say, for example, that you work in sales. Having creativity will help you to look for new ways to approach and reach out to potential customers. Or perhaps you’re a teacher. In this role you have to constantly look for new ways to deliver your message and educate your students.

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How Creativity Works

Let me break another misconception about creativity, which is that it’s only used to create completely “new” or “original” things. Again, this is far from the truth. Because nothing is ever completely new or original. Everything, including works of art, doesn’t come from nothing. Everything derives from some sort of inspiration. That means that creativity works by connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value.From this perspective, you can see a lot of creativity in action. In technology, Apple combines traditional computers with design and aesthetics to create new ways to use digital products. In music, a musician may be inspired by various styles of music, instruments and rhythms to create an entirely new type of song. All of these examples are about connecting different ideas, finding common ground amongst the differences, and creating a completely new idea out of them.

What Really Is Creativity?

Creativity Needs an Intention

Another misconception about the creative process is that you can just be in a general “creative” state. Real creativity isn’t about coming up with “eureka!” moments for random ideas. Instead, to be truly creative, you need to have a direction. You have to ask yourself this question: “What problem am I trying to solve?” Only by knowing the answer to this question can you start flexing your creativity muscles. Often times, the idea of creativity is associated with the ‘Right’ brain, with intuition and imagination. Hence a lot of focus is placed on the ‘Right’ brain when it comes to creativity. But, to get the most out of creativity, you need to utilize both sides of your brain–Right and Left–which means using the analytical and logical part of your brain, too. This may sound surprising to you, but creativity has a lot to do with problem solving. And, problem solving inherently involves logic and analysis. So instead of throwing out the ‘Left’ brain, full creativity needs them to work in unison. For example, when you’re looking for new ideas, your ‘Left’ brain will guide you to a place of focus, which is based on your objective behind the ideas you’re searching for. The ‘Right’ brain then guides you to gather and explore based on your current focus. And when you decide to try out these new ideas, your ‘Right’ brain will give you novel solutions outside of the ones you already know. Your ‘Left’ brain then helps you evaluate and tune the solutions to work better in practice. So, logic and creativity actually work hand in hand, and not one at the expense of the other.

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Creativity Is a Skill

At the end of the day, creativity is a skill. It’s not some innate or natural born talent that some have over others. What this means is that creativity and innovation can be practiced and improved upon systematically.A skill can be learned and practiced by applying your strongest learning styles. Want to know what your learning style is? Try this test. A skill can be measured and improved through a Feedback Loop, and can be continuously upgraded over time by regular practice. Through regular practice, your creativity goes through different stages of proficiency. This means that you can become more and more creative! If you never thought that creativity was relevant to you, or that you don’t have a knack for being creative… think again! You can use creativity in any aspect of your life. In fact you should use it, as it will allow you to to break through your usual loop, get you out of your comfort zone, and inspire you to grow and try new things. Creativity will definitely give you an edge when you’re trying to solve a problem or come up with new solutions.

Start Connecting the Dots

Excited to start honing your creativity? Here at Lifehack, we’ve got a wealth of knowledge to help you get started. We understand that creativity is a matter of connecting things together in order to derive new meaning or value. So, if you want to learn how to start connecting the dots, check out these tips:

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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