Why Should You Build the Speed Reading Habit?
While I’m not the fastest reader around, I have found that improving my speed reading skill has flipped a switch in my brain that’s had a lasting impact on every corner of my life.
More importantly, I think it’s a useful skill for anyone interested in personal development.
Think of the one book that has had the biggest impact on your life.
Now, imagine how your life would be different if you didn’t read it.
When you learn how to speed read, you effectively increase the likelihood that you will discover that next, great book. Imagine the ability to read ten, twenty or thirty more books this year without having to spend massive chunks of your day pushing through the pages.
If it only takes one book to change a life, thirty books could transform you beyond anything you’ve ever thought you were capable of becoming.
When you learn how to increase reading speed and comprehension both, your are able to read with no loss. This is an important factor because you do not want to increase your reading speed but not have the material you read make an actual impression. นิยายแปล
The 9-Step Process to Read Faster (an Overview)
So let’s break down the basics and dive into the good stuff…
When it comes to speed reading, the two more important tools are your eyes and your mind. Your eyes see the words and your mind processes the sentences.
Unfortunately, most people never push the limits of their eyes or mind. What happened instead was they learned to read at a young age, slowly developed the skill over years and never considered that there was a way to train themselves to read faster.
Think about it this way:
In the military, higher education, surgery rooms and life-or-death situations, we know consciously that we want to prepare to the best of our abilities. If reading a book has the power to transform our future, why wouldn’t we want to read at our best?
In order to speed read, you have to pay attention to what your eyes are doing while you read.
Your eyes have to move from left to right to read a sentence. That part is simple, but most people seem to miss out on the fact that they can train their eyes to move faster. You could simply look at a sentence and scan over it from left to right as quickly as possible, and you’d be exercising the muscle that controls your eyeballs.
So the first step of becoming a speed reader is to recognize that by exercising and practicing with this scanning motion, our eyes become faster and more prepared to read quickly. It’s just like working out a muscle; do it constantly and it will grow stronger.
Unfortunately, that’s probably not how your eyes work yet.
What’s probably happening is that as you read, you occasionally dart back to the left or skip ahead slightly and have to readjust your eyes while you read. There’s no fluidity. More importantly, you probably never attempt to speed up the motion of your eyes.
From that simple understanding, the trick is to create a few new habits that will develop the skill quickly, effortlessly and enjoyably. Once that’s done, the rest is a breeze.
To give you an idea of what we’ll cover, here’s a great infographic that covers the basics of speed reading:
Let’s dive into the nine-step process…
1. Learn how to read without subvocalizing
Welcome to the hardest and most crucial habit to tear down. When it comes to reading, we are often limited by the time that it takes for our subconscious mind to pronounce the words on the page. We don’t say them out loud, but our mind speaks them unconsciously: This is known as “subvocalizing.”
When we speak a word out loud, that takes a certain amount of time to pronounce. However, we do not actually need to pronounce words when we read. We can simply absorb them.
Have you ever found yourself reading a sentence quietly, but your lips still mimicked what it would be like to say the word out loud? That is subvocalization.
Unfortunately, the habit of speaking words as we read them is often so deeply embedded in our unconscious mind that the idea of breaking free of it seems impossible.
A great trick is to pick out any word in this text and look at it for a moment in total silence. There will still be a slight bit of sub-vocalization, but by merely observing words without the desire to pronounce them, the new habit will begin to form on its own.
A great tip for defeating this step is to start looking at and thinking about words without the need to pronounce them. This part might feel obscure or abstract in the beginning, and that’s totally normal. All that you need to be concerned with is looking at words without the desire to hear the way they sound.
After a little bit of practice, perhaps a few hundred words, you’ll start to notice the difference between speaking the word unconsciously and simply allowing it to enter your mind. And once that’s done, you’ve torn down the biggest barrier between yourself and speed reading.
It might not be easy at first, but once you’ve beaten this part, everything else is cake by comparison.
To learn more, here’s a useful video on how to eliminate subvocalization:
2. Determine Your Current Baseline
Another crucial element of speed reading is the ability to recognize your own growth.
Before you can measure your growth you will need a baseline. Then once you have a baseline to measure, you will need to periodically measure your reading against this baseline.
A great resource for tracking your results can be found at ReadingSoft.com, which provides a rapid, consistent measurement of how quickly you’re reading. By regularly taking the tests here, it’ll be much easier for you to recognize that you’re growing, and that will provide all the motivational fuel you’ll need to keep going.
The problem with understanding your own baseline is that it’s hard to translate it into practical terms when a program says that you’re reading a certain amount of words per minute. It’s a great place to start, but from the practical perspective, it’s more important to know how many minutes it takes to read an average page.
If the average person takes 5 to 10 minutes per page, a speed reader doesn’t need much more than 2 or 3.
This means that a 200 page book comes out to 400 minutes for a speed reader and 1,000 to 2,000 minutes for the average reader.
That means the average reader has to spend an extra 13 hours on the same book.
That’s more than half a day in lost time!
However, it’s not as easy as just jumping from being a 17-hour reader to a speed reader. There are going to be various obstacles in your way, but fortunately, most of them are easily dealt with.
3. Use a Pointer, Indicator or Your Index Finger
Using a finger to guide yourself while reading is often considered to be reserved for children and then forgotten once they have the hang of reading. However, this trick comes in handy again while learning to speed read for a few key reasons.
The biggest and most important hurdle in speed reading is not in learning new skills but in removing old skills that work against us.
One of these skills that works against us is our comfort in reading without a guide, but in order to learn as quickly as possible, using a guide is a must. It is absolutely non-negotiable.
If you were to observe me speed reading, you would notice I do not need to use a guide, but my eyes are constantly darting from the beginning to the end of the line. What you would not notice is that I am doing so at a very consistent speed.
In other words, the amount of time that it takes me to cross a single line of text is mostly the same as I continue my way throughout the page. The exception here is when I have an epiphany or get confused, but those are both still natural parts of reading.
When using a guide, your primary goal is to move the guide at a very consistent pace. You should not stop your finger or slow it down. It should simply slide from one side of the text to the other at a very uniform speed. By practicing in this way, you’re going to be able to notice when you get stuck or lose momentum much easier than if you simply tried to follow along and move as quickly as possible.
When you just try to move quickly, you cannot possibly maintain a fluid and flowing form of speed reading, because you will eventually hit your limit and skip a word. This results in backtracking, and backtracking results in confusion.
If you do this twice per page, it could easily add 30 seconds to each page or 100 minutes to a 200 page book. That’s an extra hour and a half lost to backtracking over the span of an entire book. You must learn to think of speed reading like a marathon rather than a race.
4. Focus on Control
When moving through text, you will come to find that certain sections of a book might be a breeze to read through, while others are too full of useful information to read quickly.
This is a natural part of reading, and transitioning smoothly from thick material to easy reading is a measure of control. Remember, speed isn’t the only important part of speed reading: You still have to do the actual reading.
Let’s take two separate books to illustrate this point.
The first book will be a thick, boring history textbook. If we needed to find specific dates and names within the book, it would be easy to just speed read through the pages while scanning for the names. If we needed to find the significance of these people and dates, we would need to slow down and absorb the material a little bit more closely.
Our second book is a fiction book. It’s a whimsical story about a family trapped on a mountain and the adventures they have trying to find the way off of it.
Because our brain enjoys the book, there is no real reason to control the reading process unless we don’t understand a part of the story. We may simply breeze through the text, let the story fill our mind and slow down when we feel we have missed out on something significant.
In this light, speed reading obviously has different implications for different books. The rookie makes the mistake of believing that speed reading is all about speed, but it is fundamentally about reading. The speed aspect is simply the ability to control one part of how we read.
5. Train Your Eyes to Minimize Movement
One of the biggest and easiest epiphanies in your journey to become a speed reader will be in recognizing how much your eyes move while you read.
For the average person, their eyes cannot keep moving in a single, fluid line without needing to backtrack. If you begin to pay attention to your eyes, I can guarantee that you will start to notice just how often you move back, then forward, then back again.
In the long run, this adds entire hours to your reading experience, and it might even prevent you from finishing in the first place.
Train your eyes without a book:
A great exercise that doesn’t require a book is to practice moving your eyes from left to right while also moving your head from left to right.
- As you move, be sure to keep your eyes looking forward. Your head should be moving while your eyes stay still.
- After looking from left to right a few times, repeat the exercise, but allow your eyes to move with the motion of your head. Your eyes should still be centered and not looking left or right.
- Finally, keep your head straight and look with your eyes to the left and right a few times. Your head should be perfectly in place while you glance to the left and right in a horizontal line.
By doing these exercises, you have just isolated all of the core components of using your eyes to speed read. We have motion created by the head that does not affect the eyes, motion created by the head that is shared with the eyes and motion created by the eyes that does not affect the head.