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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 April 19, 2021

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

The Art of Taking a Break So You Will Be Productive Again

Think of yourself as a cup. Each day, you wake up full. But as you go about your day—getting tasks done and interacting with people—the amount in your cup gradually gets lower. And as such, you get less and less effective at whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing. You’re running out of steam.

The solution is obvious: if you don’t have anything left to pour out, then you need to find a way to fill yourself up again. In work terms, that means you should take a break—an essential form of revitalizing your motivation and focus.

Taking a break may get a bad rap in hustle culture, but it’s an essential, science-based way to ensure you have the capacity to live your life the way you want to live it.

In the 1980s, when scientists began researching burnout, they described this inner capacity as “resources.” We all need to replenish our resources to cope with stress, work effectively, and avoid burnout.[1]

When the goal is to get things done, it may sound counterproductive to stop what you’re doing. But if you embrace the art of taking a break, you can be more efficient and effective at work.

Here are five ways on how you can take a break and boost your productivity.

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1. Break for the Right Amount of Time, at the Right Time

When I started my first job out of college, I was bent on pleasing my boss as most entry-level employees do. So, every day, I punched in at 9 AM on the dot, took a 60-minute lunch break at noon, and left no earlier than 5 PM.

As I’ve logged more hours in my career, I’ve realized the average, eight-hour workday with an hour lunch break simply isn’t realistic—especially if your goal is to put your best foot forward at work.

That’s why popular productivity techniques like the Pomodoro advocate for the “sprint” principle. Basically, you work for a short burst, then stop for a short, five-minute break. While the Pomodoro technique is a step forward, more recent research shows a shorter burst of working followed by a longer pause from work might actually be a more effective way to get the most out of stepping away from your desk.

The team at DeskTime analyzed more than 5 million records of how workers used their computers on the job. They found that the most productive people worked an average of 52 minutes, then took a 17-minute break afterward.[2]

What’s so special about those numbers? Leave it to neuroscience. According to researchers, the human brain naturally works in spurts of activity that last an hour. Then, it toggles to “low-activity mode.”[3]

Even so, keep in mind that whatever motivates you is the most effective method. It’s more about the premise—when you know you have a “finish line” approaching, you can stay focused on the task or project at hand.

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There are many applications and tools that can help you block distracting websites and apps (such as social media) for specific periods of the day. Similarly, you can also use some mailing apps like Mailbrew to receive all the social media content or newsletters you don’t want to miss in your inbox at a time you decide.

So, no matter how long you work, take a break when you sense you’re losing steam or getting bored with the task. Generally, a 10-15 minute break should reinvigorate you for whatever’s coming next.

2. Get a Change of Scenery—Ideally, Outdoors

When it comes to increasing a person’s overall mental health, there’s no better balm than nature. Research has found that simply being outside can restore a person’s mind from mental fatigue related to work or studying, ultimately contributing to improved work performance (and even improved work satisfaction).[4]

No lush forest around? Urban nature can be just as effective to get the most out of your break-taking. Scientists Stephen R. Kellert and Edward O. Wilson, in their book The Biophilia Hypothesis, claimed that even parks, outdoor paths, and building designs that embrace “urban nature” can lend a sense of calm and inspiration, encouraging learning and alertness for workers.

3. Move Your Body

A change of scenery can do wonders for your attention span and ability to focus, but it’s even more beneficial if you pair it with physical movement to pump up that adrenaline of yours. Simply put, your body wasn’t designed to be seated the entire day. In fact, scientists now believe that extended periods of sitting are just as dangerous to health as smoking.[5]

It’s not always feasible to enjoy the benefits of a 30-minute brisk walk during your workday, especially since you’ll most likely have less energy during workdays. But the good news is, for productivity purposes, you don’t have to. Researchers found that just 10 minutes of exercise can boost your memory and attention span throughout the entire day.[6]

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So, instead of using your break to sit and read the news or scroll your social media account, get out of your chair and move your body. Take a quick walk around the block. Do some jumping jacks in your home office. Whatever you choose, you’ll likely find yourself with a sharper focus—and more drive to get things done.

4. Connect With Another Person

Social connection is one of the most important factors for resilience. When we’re in a relationship with other people, it’s easier to cope with stress—and in my experience, getting social can also help to improve focus after a work break.

One of my favorite ways to break after a 30-or-so minute sprint is to hang out with my family. And once a week, I carve out time to Skype my relatives back in Turkey. It’s amazing how a bit of levity and emotional connection can rev me up for the next work sprint.

Now that most of us are working from home, getting some face-to-face time with a loved one isn’t as hard as it once was. So, take the time to chat with your partner. Take your kids outside to run around the backyard. If you live alone, call a friend or relative. Either way, coming up for air to chat with someone who knows and cares about you will leave you feeling invigorated and inspired.

5. Use Your Imagination

When you’re working with your head down, your brain has an ongoing agenda: get things done, and do it well. That can be an effective method for productivity, but it only lasts so long—especially because checking things off your to-do list isn’t the only ingredient to success at work. You also need innovation.

That’s why I prioritize a “brain break” every day. When I feel my “cup” getting empty, I usually choose another creative activity to exercise my brain, like a Crossword puzzle, Sudoku, or an unrelated, creative project in my house.

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And when I’m really struggling to focus, I don’t do anything at all. Instead, I let my brain roam free for a bit, following my thoughts down whatever trail they lead me. As it turns out, there’s a scientific benefit to daydreaming. It reinforces creativity and helps you feel more engaged with the world, which will only benefit you in your work.[7]

Whether you help your kids with their distance learning homework, read an inspiring book, or just sit quietly to enjoy some fresh air, your brain will benefit from an opportunity to think and feel without an agenda. And, if you’re anything like me, you might just come up with your next great idea when you aren’t even trying.

Final Thoughts

Most of us have to work hard for our families and ourselves. And the current world we live in demands the highest level of productivity that we can offer. However, we also have to take a break once in a while. We are humans, after all.

Learning the art of properly taking a break will not only give you the rest you need but also increase your productivity in the long run.

More on the Importance of Taking a Break

Featured photo credit: Helena Lopes via unsplash.com

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