Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How To Read Faster

zenhabits had a post today on speed reading but the interesting part were the comments. It was amazing to see how many people were citing studies and saying so many things to explain why they couldn't possibly learn to read faster. The funny thing is that it isn't impossible. I tested twice for reading and comprehension and scored at 1700 and 2000 wpm. and the 1700 score was when I was tired. I once when I went home for Christmas break I stopped by the bookstore to get some light reading, I finished a stack of 5 book (150-250 pages each) in about 8 hours. Am I doing the impossible? The Guinness Booke of Records has the fastest reader at 25,000wpm. I am less then 10% that.

Reading at a high rate of speed is possible. You can do it too. It won't be fast or easy. You won't expect to start a workout program and not experience aches and pains, even temporary weakness. The same will happen when you start trying to do something different with your mental muscles.

It takes 500-1000 hours of study to become expert in a new skill. At about 1 hour a day it will take a year or two of steady practice to get to a really high speed. That really isn't all that long.

Also you won't want to use speed reading techniques when learning something new or if you just want to enjoy something you are reading, like a poem.

If you are not careful you may end up not enjoying authors who are not prolific as they don't take the time to develop their stories and worlds very well. You'll end up having to read authors with greater then triolgy series like Clancy, Jordan, Eddings, Card, McCaffery.

The greatest benefit of speed reading is that it allows you to leverage that most precious resource: time. Time is your one resource that cannot be replenshed, but can be leveraged. What to learn something? Many people have written books after spending years--decades, even--learning how to do something well. You can gain that experience in a matter of hours just by reading. Take the Bible for example. After compiling hundreds of peoples and thousands of years of experince we can read it in a matter of days. Reading is a shortcut we won't live long enough to think all the thoughts that have been thought before. We can spring board off of their thinking to expand our own.

How to read faster

First you'll want to set up a reading training area. A comfortable seat in a quiet place with a good light and something to read and a timer.
A comfortable place to sit is important because if you are not comfortable then you'll be distracted by the pains in your body.
A quiet place, again you are trying to minimize distrations, eventually you'll be able to speed read anywhere but you are just starting out now, so make it easier on yourself.
Good lighting is primary, your eyes are photon receptors--the more photons they get the better. There are even special reading bulbs that put out 150+ Watts of light that are really very helpful.
A book, this doesn't need to be anything special, but don't use something important to read by tomorrow, you could use a book you've read before that you liked. that way you can tell if you missed something.
Record your starting page. Set the timer for 20 minutes. And start reading as fast as you can stand without skipping.

One of the first things you'll notice is that you're sounding out the words even if you aren't moving your lips. That is called subvocalization and tends to slow you down. Put a pencil or something between your teeth and that should help stop that. This is be the biggest boost to your reading speed.

Another thing that you'll find happening is that your eyes skip back to reread something from time to time. Rereading something you just read is not very efficient so you can use a finger or pointer of some kind to force you eyes to follow the page. Another thing that can help is a magnifying rod that magnifies one line at a time, this also helps make the words bigger and easier to read.

After twenty minutes you'll want to take a rest. Record what age you stopped on. Your eyes may be feeling a little strained you are using muscles in differenet ways. You may also have the beginnings of a headache as you have also been processing information more quickly then usual.

Stand up and stretch, and be sure to look at something far away to give those eyes a rest. Do something else and do it again tomorrow. After a week increase the time by 5 minutes. Once you get to an hour keep it there as by this time your body will have adjusted to this new work you're giving it to do.

It takes 500-1000 hours of study to become expert in a new skill. At about 1 hour a day it will take a year or two of steady practice to get to a really high speed. That really isn't all that long.

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