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What is Something Useful You can Learn in 10 minutes that Would be Useful for the Rest of Your Life?

What is Something Useful You can Learn in 10 minutes that Would be Useful for the Rest of Your Life?

Here’s a great answer we found on Quora by Raj Rai who provides some valuable tips on learning something that would be useful for the rest of your life.

How to speed-read. Following along with your finger is excellent if you want to read a little faster, but speed-reading is a different ball game.

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Brief background: I learned how to speed-read after some googling. I did this search because I had AP Bio and AP Econ summer reading due in about 12 hours, I hadn’t even begun, and I did not want to spend 12 hours reading. I tried to find the page, and I’ll add it in as an edit if I can find it. I learned to speed read because of my own laziness, but on a bad day I read at least 5 or 6 times as fast as I used to.

Let’s start with basics.

Most people read word by word, and often say the words to themselves using the voices in their heads. Why do we do this? I fully blame kindergarten reading programs, which force children to read out loud both in class and at home. Who thought of this? Anyway, that is not at all the most effective way to read, in terms of both speed and comprehension. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is eliminate the voice inside your head. This took me at least 1 hour to do.

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Read with your eyes. ONLY.

Whatever you do don’t use the voice inside your head. As you learn to do this part go ahead and read word by word and go over the lines with your finger. Just work on eliminating the voice. Why? You cannot say words nearly as fast as you can comprehend them, believe it or not. Don’t limit your reading speed to your speaking speed. This process really sucks, by the way. If you really believe that the voice in your mind is your enemy, you will probably be extremely frustrated for the first half hour of your journey. You may get better, then get a snack, then come back to continue your training and realize you are back where you started. Feelings of hopelessness will arise. Be a man/woman, and push on.

A tip for those who are having trouble not subvocalizing is to hold your breath as you read. As Sean O’Connor pointed out, we breathe out as we read, even when we do so silently, since we’re used to speaking the words aloud. A lot of the time, you even notice yourself making movements with your mouth, though it’s closed. Hold your breath as you begin trying to eliminate subvocalization. Breathe in when you need to. (Don’t force discomfort or anything) Once you feel that you’ve effectively eliminated that voice, try to return to normal breathing. Remember to use breath-holding as a crutch whenever you are having trouble. It has no noticeable effect on your speed or comprehension, and it helps immensely when you are having a rough time.

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Once you are able to pretty much eliminate the voice inside your head, you have unlocked a huge amount of potential in terms of how fast you can now read. Since you’re reading with your eyes, try reading two or three words at a time, and then move up once you get comfortable. Trust me, if you don’t skip the voice elimination step, you will make progress fast. After a couple days I was reading pages out of an assigned novel within 15-20 seconds, the book was The Guide, and with full comprehension. I am not exaggerating. This is when I got really in the zone of course. Not having the initial tunnel vision can be frustrating but after about 10 minutes you get it down and you fly through pages. I was reading about a line at a time. One tip I have that helped me read more words at a time is to think about opening your eyes REALLY WIDE. Actively try to take in as many words at a time as you can and try to move along the lines as fast as you can while doing this. You’ll build your own rhythm eventually.

Hopefully this helps someone. It really helped me. I was able to finish estimated hour-long reading assignments in 10 minutes or less. I’m out practice right now, but I want to get back into it this summer so I can complete the books listed on the answer wiki for Books: What are some potentially life-changing books?

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P.S. Here’s a link (thanks Mike Stenhouse) that teaches you a lot of about speed-reading technique. The explanation it gives encompasses a lot of what I’ve said, and I found it pretty useful in cleaning up how I read and in increasing my reading ability generally: Scientific Speed Reading: How to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes

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Brian Lee

Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 23, 2021

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

Manage Your Energy so You Can Manage Your Time

One of the greatest ironies of this age is that while various gadgets like smartphones and netbooks allow you to multitask, it seems that you never manage to get things done. You are caught in the busyness trap. There’s just too much work to do in one day that sometimes you end up exhausted with half-finished tasks.

The problem lies in how to keep our energy level high to ensure that you finish at least one of your most important tasks for the day. There’s just not enough hours in a day and it’s not possible to be productive the whole time.

You need more than time management. You need energy management

1. Dispel the idea that you need to be a “morning person” to be productive

How many times have you heard (or read) this advice – wake up early so that you can do all the tasks at hand. There’s nothing wrong with that advice. It’s actually reeks of good common sense – start early, finish early. The thing is that technique alone won’t work with everyone. Especially not with people who are not morning larks.

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I should know because I was once deluded with the idea that I will be more productive if I get out of bed by 6 a.m. Like most of you Lifehackers, I’m always on the lookout for productivity hacks because I have a lot of things in my plate. I’m working full time as an editor for a news agency, while at the same time tending to my side business as a content marketing strategist. I’m also a travel blogger and oh yeah, I forgot, I also have a life.

I read a lot of productivity books and blogs looking for ways to make the most of my 24 hours. Most stories on productivity stress waking up early. So I did – and I was a major failure in that department – both in waking up early and finishing early.

2. Determine your “peak hours”

Energy management begins with looking for your most productive hours in a day. Getting attuned to your body clock won’t happen instantly but there’s a way around it.

Monitor your working habits for one week and list down the time when you managed to do the most work. Take note also of what you feel during those hours – do you feel energized or lethargic? Monitor this and you will find a pattern later on.

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My experiment with being a morning lark proved that ignoring my body clock and just doing it by disciplining myself to wake up before 8 a.m. will push me to be more productive. I thought that by writing blog posts and other reports in the morning that I would be finished by noon and use my lunch break for a quick gym session. That never happened. I was sleepy, distracted and couldn’t write jack before 10 a.m.

In fact that was one experiment that I shouldn’t have tried because I should know better. After all, I’ve been writing for a living for the last 15 years, and I have observed time and again that I write more –and better – in the afternoon and in evenings after supper. I’m a night owl. I might as well, accept it and work around it.

Just recently, I was so fired up by a certain idea that – even if I’m back home tired from work – I took out my netbook, wrote and published a 600-word blog post by 11 p.m. This is a bit extreme and one of my rare outbursts of energy, but it works for me.

3. Block those high-energy hours

Once you have a sense of that high-energy time, you can then mold your schedule so that your other less important tasks will be scheduled either before or after this designated productive time.

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Block them out in your calendar and use the high-energy hours for your high priority tasks – especially those that require more of your mental energy and focus. You also need to use these hours to any task that will bring you closer to you life’s goal.

If you are a morning person, you might want to schedule most business meetings before lunch time as it’s important to keep your mind sharp and focused. But nothing is set in stone. Sometimes you have to sacrifice those productive hours to attend to other personal stuff – like if you or your family members are sick or if you have to attend your son’s graduation.

That said, just remember to keep those productive times on your calendar. You may allow for some exemptions but stick to that schedule as much as possible.

There’s no right or wrong way of using this energy management technique because everything depends on your own personal circumstances. What you need to remember is that you have to accept what works for you – and not what other productivity gurus say you should do.

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Understanding your own body clock is the key to time management. Without it, you end up exhausted chasing a never-ending cycle of tasks and frustrations.

Featured photo credit: Collin Hardy via unsplash.com

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