This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard about speed reading techniques though. I was introduced to it by my father who once told me a story about the teacher of one of his business classes. In between classes, the teacher was reading a book with unbelievable speed, skimming through pages within a matter of seconds.
After calling him out on it and basically saying that there was no way that he could understand even a single sentence while reading with such frantical speed, he said: "Well let’s do a little experiment. Here, take the book and choose any word you like within the last 20 pages I just read. Now, tell me the position of that word, page number, column and row.". They each chose a random word and the teacher was able to tell them the exact word every single time.
Being a sucker for stories like that, I quickly got my hands on the first book about speed reading I could find, but blessed with a huge portion of ADHD, never managed to read more than the first couple of chapters, yet alone implement the information in it.
This time though, I actually read the whole thing back-to-back in a single day and my progress since then has been phenomenal to say the least. I have been able to effectively double my WPM (words per minute), while at least keeping the same level of understanding, sometimes even improving it.
Let’s look at some facts to help you realise the consequences such an improvement has:
- According to the book, the average person spends at least 2 h per day on work-related information management by reading, at an average speed of 200 WPM. Multiply that number by 5 days a week times 50 weeks and you have 500 hours spent reading.
- Improving your WPM by only 50 %, which is a very conservative goal to achieve (more typical results are at least doubling your WPM), would mean that you effectively save 0,7 h a day or 175 h a year!
- While reading with the speed most of us are used to, we seriously underchallenge our brain (the book talks about 15 % of full capacity), so that’s also the reason why it’s oftentimes so hard to keep up the focus on reading and not drift off into random thoughts about what to have for dinner etc., as our brain is basically just bored. What this means is that increasing your reading speed will most likely also improve your general level of understanding and help you keep focused on a text for longer periods at a time.
Now you might ask yourself "That’s all fine, but how the hell do I actually improve my reading speed?". Well, let me give you the most important parts of these techniques:
- Keep up a foreward motion with your eyes at all times and avoid jumping back and forth between text passages. Most of the time, if you didn’t catch a specific word, you will still be able to understand it in the context of the rest of the text.
- Focus on blocks of text instead of single words! Our brain is able to process more than one word at a time, especially if it’s a combination with very frequently used words such as articles. Use punctuation and long words as an anchor. Very bad example: focus on "the house" instead of "the" – "house".
- Tone down your inner voice! When we learned to read for the first time in school, we were told to read the sentences out loud, which actually is required to make a connection between words and their meaning for the first time. With more experience though, we develope such a great understanding of the language that by only seeing the word we can instantly make the connection to its meaning without having to hear it. So in the end, this inner voice is just slowing down your reading capabilities as spoken words have a rough maximum of 200 WPM.
This is only a very rough overview of how you can improve your reading ability, so if you are interested in the matter (which you should be), I highly suggest that you check out a book for yourself or even sign up for a seminar. The originator of these techniques is Tony Buzan I think, which is a pretty well known guy in the "mind hack" scene, so just make a quick Amazon search on him and get the most recommended title.
While this may not be the most enjoyable way to read your Shakespeare & Co., speaking for myself, roughly 90 % of my daily reading consists of business-related stuff where I couldn’t care less about grammar, sentence structure etc., so if I get the basic information out of a text and actually can save a lot of time while doing so, I am more than fine with that.
I hope I was able to give you a quick insight into speed reading and show you how much time you can save on a daily basis by implementing these techniques! If you are already using these techniques yourself, I would love to hear your own experiences!
From:andyvon Date: 08-19-19
From:David Date: 08-19-19