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7 Tricks To Succeed In Speed Reading

7 Tricks To Succeed In Speed Reading

Being able to read faster gives you two benefits. You can get more reading done in the same amount of time. Or, you could read the same amount, but quicker, allowing yourself more time to do other things.

Speed reading is a skill that anyone can learn. There is a set of techniques that you must master if you want to be able to read at a lightening fast pace. I will show you some in a moment. First you must appreciate this.

With speed reading there is a trade-off.

Speed Vs. Comprehension

The faster you read, the lower your levels of comprehension. A big part of the skill of speed reading is identifying the parts of a text that can be skimmed, and the parts that should be read more carefully. This comes with experience and practice.

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Here are some general rules of thumb as to what parts of a text you should focus on most:

  • First paragraph

Read the first paragraph carefully as it sets you up for what it’s about. The introductory paragraph should give you clues about the content of the whole text. This can help you decide what to read more carefully, and what to skim. It also gives you a good understanding of what you are reading about.

  • First sentence of each paragraph

Read the first sentence of each paragraph more carefully. This is likely to explain what the paragraph is about. This can help you decide what focus you need to give to the rest of the paragraph. Sometimes you don’t even need to read the rest of the paragraph if the first sentence explains it all.

  • Last paragraph

The last paragraph or conclusion is always worth focussing on. It often rounds up the whole article so a lot can be gained from it. If you don’t understand the final paragraph, then you probably haven’t understood the article.

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Knowing where to focus will help you read in a much more efficient and quicker way. Now here’s the speed part. Here are some tips to help you read faster…

1. Don’t Read to Yourself

Most people vocalise in their heads what they read. This slows you down. Be conscious of this, and stop yourself whenever you notice yourself doing it. Eventually you will break this habit and you reading pace will rocket.

2. Read Blocks of Words

To speed read, you must learn to read blocks of words, rather than individual words. Practice reading 3 or 4 words at a time, and gradually increase this. Hold the page further away than normal so you can see more in one go.

3. Don’t Re-Read

Most people are in the habit of re reading bits of text to make sure they understood it. Often they did understand it, but habitually do this any way. This is a waste of time. Be mindful of not re-reading and you will begin to drop this bad habit.

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4. Guide Your Eyes

Many speed readers use their hand or a card to scroll down the page. This helps guide your eyes and keep you focussed.

You can also use a cover to push yourself. Move the cover down the page a little quicker each time. This forces you to increase the rate you’re capable of reading at.

5. Create the Right Environment

The room should be well lit so that you can see well. Natural light is better for most people than artificial lighting.

A quiet and relaxing place is also best for helping you concentrate. You have to be laser focused when speed reading.

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6. Take Regular Breaks

Speed reading requires high levels of concentration. You cannot keep this up for longer than 20-30 minutes. Take plenty of breaks to refresh your mind so that you can concentrate enough to read at a lightening pace.

7. Practice

Practice daily and push yourself. Getting stronger in a gym means attempting to lift weights you can’t quite lift. The same is true with speed reading. Try and read slightly faster than your current comfort levels and your mind will adapt to handle this.

A great tactic when practising is to read text that you have read before. This makes it easier to read quickly whilst still being able to understand it.

Final Thoughts

Like any skill, speed reading requires practice and persistence. How fast you become is down to how far you want to take it. If you’re happy to double or triple your current reading speed, then you should be able to achieve this quickly. If you wish to read at a turbo-pace, then you will have to practice hard for a lot longer.

How fast do you want to be able to read?

Featured photo credit: Reading by Rik Lomas via flickr.com

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Jake Rhodes

Jake is an entrepreneur and self-improvement enthusiast.

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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