“The unemployable of the (near) future will be those who can’t, or don’t learn, regardless of available learning resources.” Increasing your reading speed and comprehension can be an effective way to increase your productivity and speed of learning.
Finding Time Nuggets to Read
Using an activity journal or app can help you see how you are using your time. Unaccounted time tends to be the most logical place to build in more reading time. You can also convert time-robbing activities such as TV or the Internet. Always keep reading material on you and read whenever you can e.g. commuting, waits. If you can’t find time, you have to make time or it will never happen.
Reading straight from the beginning to the end is not always the most efficient method. Preview what you read by skimming first paragraphs, first sentences, and last paragraphs for non-fiction books. Observe tables, pictures, or charts to get a sense for the overall organization and main points. Read with a purpose. Understand why you are reading something and what you hope to gain from it. Depending on your purpose skim (find general idea), scan (find something specific), or skip (a section or the entire book/article/etc). Reading with a mental map will help you see how the components fit together allowing for greater comprehension and reading speed.
Conditions for Optimal Focus
- Isolate yourself and find a good location (desk or table)
- No distractions, TV, or music (maybe classical)
- Read when you are at your body’s peak and stay well rested
- Remove distractions by writing down anything on your mind before reading
- Set a time goal
- Take short breaks
- Good lighting and temperature
Reading Techniques (Requires Deliberate Practice to Improve)
- Pacers – Do what works for you. Move down not across. Do not stop or go back.
- White Card Method – Place a card on top of lines you read. Hide what you’ve already read and show what you still have to read.
- Left or Right Side Pull – point index finger to left or right side of page and scroll down as you read
- Two Finger Pull – put index fingers on right and left side and scroll down
- Pull Down Center – place index finger in center of text and move down
- Pen Down – place pen on text pointing down. move down as you read
- Pen Across – place pen horizontally on top of line and move down
- Open Hand Wiggle – put your hand face down on the text. Use your middle finger as guide. move hand to the left and right (S shape) as you move hand down
- Finger Snake – Like the Open Hand wiggle, but with only one finger. tends to work better on narrower columns. Do not zig zag on every line, skip a few
- Thumb Down – Make a fist but have your thump sticking out. It should be pointing downwards.
- Thumb Across – Make fist but point thumb horizontally, use thumb and wrist like white card method
- Keywords – Stop only on keywords. Tend to be bigger. Brain can usually fill in the rest.
- Eye Swing Exercise – train eyes to pick up keywords. jump from block to block. Only move eyes. Developing a smooth eye rhythm will make you faster.
- Read Thought Groups – Focus on groups of words that form a thought
- Phrasing/is reading/a group of words/that form a thought./By looking for/these thought groups,/you force your eyes/to move forward faster/while maintaining/good comprehension
- Read Between the Lines – Focusing on the white just above the sentence lets you read without becoming fixated on certain points. We can generally read a sentence even if the bottom half is blacked out
- Indenting – Imagine two vertical lines about half an inch from the left and right side of the text. Swing your eyes up to these points. This reduces the distance your focus needs to travel and your peripheral vision should catch the words at the margins.
Habits that Slow You Down and Methods for Reducing Them
- Mind Wandering – Read actively. Incorporate new information into your existing knowledge base
- Regression/Rereading – White Card Method (cover top of lines)
- Sub-vocalization – Talking as you read
- Catch yourself
- Read faster
- Read key words only
- Use a pacer
- keep an index finger to your mouth
- mumble “123” or “lalala”
- Chew gum
- Press tongue to roof of mouth
- People tend to forgot most of what they read so create a retrieval system for useful information