Focus on the essential.
Read more of the things which will actually serve you. Here are some useful questions to ask yourself before reading something.
- Why am I reading this?
- Why do I need this information?
If you can’t come up with good answers for this two questions, don’t read it.
Pre-viewing non-fiction material before starting to read helps you to get an idea what it is all about as well as which parts will be relevant and interesting to you. This will help you to reduce the tendency to re-read all the time.
Pre-viewing alone will give you 40% of the key information of the material!
Remember the essential stuff, not everything.
We develop this misconception about having to remember everything in school because we think we have to remember everything because we will be tested on the material.
However remembering everything with memorization is not efficient because we forget it after only a few days (short-term memory). It is much more useful to create an easy retrieval system. This can mean many things, essentially finding a method to find the information whenever you need it. For example, write down the essential information or highlight it. That way you will have easy access to it whenever you need, taking away the pressure to having to remember everything.
Kick bad habits to improve your reading
A common problem while reading is passive daydreaming. It happens when we are thinking about other topics while reading, none of them related to what we actually read.
The goal is to replace daydreaming with active mind wandering, this means connecting the information we’re reading to our own knowledge and experience. Essentially bridging the information we already know, with the new information. For example, while you read something about a foreign country you have traveled to before, let your mind wander for a moment back in time to remember the experience of your travel. This will help you to glue together what you already know with the new information you are reading.
Regression, rereading what you’ve just read, is another bad habit. To avoid it try covering the text you’ve read with something.
Don’t use subvocalization! Mentally whispering the text will slow you down to about 150 words per minute when you could really be reading 400 wpm mentally!
Try to read only the essential words. Take this sentence as an example: The task is defined by a series of steps and elements. See how you don’t always need to read everything in order to get the meaning? Try to focus on keywords.
Another strategy is using thought groups instead of separate words. For this, you will have to train your peripheral vision to see more words at a time. Try to see as many words at a time as possible. This will take some time and practice but it will help you read much faster.
Another technique using peripheral vision is to aim your eyes half an inch inside the left margin and then stop reading half an inch before the right margin. You will still see the beginning and end, but by not focusing on every word you can speed up your reading by 10%!
Use your fingers as a guide, move them slowly but steadily down as you read across the lines. This will help you maintain a flow more easily.
That’s all folks, I hope these points will help you to read faster! Don’t forget to check out the book.
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Also published on Medium.