Speed reading has long been a skill peddled by supposed experts, and a slew of cheap apps, but in reality it can be quite simple to learn to read over 1,000 words a minute. But before you get started, eliminate distractions. Get rid of anything your mind could think about besides the reading material. Fool yourself with your iPod if you wish—but if you really are serious about reading faster, eliminate distractions—including music.
1. See the book as a mine full of ore not gold. Speed readers learn how to go for the gold and discard the ore. One reads a book to get the message, not to obsess about the individual words. Switch your mindset and go for the gold.
2. Quit vocalizing. Most of us learned to read by sounding out the words. The trouble is, many of us never stopped. To become a speed reader learn to discard this habit (or at least reduce it). Instead, adopt the eye-to-mind method. Let the books pass into the mind directly from your eyes, skipping the mouth. Go ahead and try it—your eyes can send the content directly to your mind bypassing the sluggish vocalizing method.
3. Use your finger. Your finger can set the pace. It leads you forward at a speedy pace, and keeps you on focus so you can avoid back-skipping. There are several ways to use your finger (or hand) but try it out for starters. Run your finger ahead of your eye pulling along your mind at a faster pace then you are used to. Watch yourself improve!
4. Break the Back-skip habit. When most of us read along a line of type (like this one) our eyes jump back once in a while to recover a word we just passed and somehow missed. We do this without even knowing it. How to stop? First, confess you do it. Then while you are reading notice your temptations back-skip and refuse to go back. Treat your book like watching a movie. When you miss a phrase at the cinema you don’t ask them stop the movie and replay the last phrase do you? No. You let the movie flow on figuring you’ll still get the over all point eventually.
5. Look for key words. Read this sentence: “Yesterday when I was driving to school in my car and I saw a huge hawk swoop down from the telephone lines beside the road and grab a sparrow that never saw it coming.” What if you could train your mind and to see only the key words in that sentence: “Yesterday when I was driving to school in my car and I saw a huge hawk swoop down from the telephone lines beside the road and grab a sparrow that never saw it coming.” You could save 50% of your reading time! You may even learn to grasp the meaning by reading even fewer words: “…hawk… swoop…lines…grab…sparrow…” Training your mind to find key words, it will speed your reading tremendously!
6. Eliminate “Bus Stops.” A period at the end of a sentence is not a required stop. You can keep moving! Try to reduce your eye rests to 1-2 per line, then even less as you get better. Eventually you can skip all bus stops and keep your eyes moving smoothly line after line, as your mind drinks in the content of a book. Try it!
7. Take breaks. The research is clear. Steady reading hour after hour is less efficient than taking a five minute rest-stop break every hour or so. Try to read 100 pages in the next hour in total concentration using the above tips. Maybe even set an alarm. Then when the alarm goes off reward yourself with some candy or a sandwich or a quick walk outside. The pit stop will refresh you for the next 100 pages. Just try it and see!
To summarize, remember that speed-reading is not some magical secret you can pick up in ten minutes by reading this article. It takes practice and time to develop. To become a life-long rapid reader (like becoming an expert race car driver) will take more time. This short article will get you started though. Try and see!
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