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7 Tricks To Succeed In Speed Reading

7 Tricks To Succeed In Speed Reading
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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.

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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 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)
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No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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