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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 September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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