All of us want to read faster – with comprehension of course. Being able to do this is a real plus for people in all stages of life and career.
- For the student, begin able to speed read can cut in half the amount of time spent on text and outside reading assignments, and on research that must be conducted to produce essays, papers and other projects.
- Career professionals who must remain current in their fields will often spend a lot of time reading journal articles and books that relate to the latest developments and innovations in their career niches.
- Entrepreneurs must continually keep an eye on the site content, the blogs, and the marketing materials that their competitors publish, if they are to remain “in the game.”
- Publishers and editors must read an enormous number of submissions and edit authors’ works on a daily basis.
- Owners of articles directories and blogs must read submissions and determine if they are worthy of publication – sometimes hundreds a day!
There are a number of strategies that can be implemented to improve reading speed, and those in need should first attempt to master them:
- Focus: We have all experienced reading something, only to find that our minds have wandered to other things. We must then retrace our steps and go back to points from which we wandered and re-read the materials all over again. Obviously, this slows us down and impacts our comprehension as well. Improving focus may be achieved by one or more of the following:
- Practice Focusing Techniques: Meditation has a mixed reputation, but, for purposes of learning how to focus, it is excellent. Try sitting or lying quietly and getting a single picture in your mind – perhaps the sun, or a cloud, or some pleasant scene. Practice focusing on that image and nothing else. At first, your mind will wander all over the place. You will think of things you must get done, on where you might go out to eat that evening, on a phone conversation you just had, on an issue at school or work, etc. But you must practice dumping those thoughts and focusing back on the object or scene you have imaged. The more you practice this, the better you will get, and that focusing ability will translate into other aspects of your life, including your reading.
- Removing Distractions: Many of us like background sounds when we are working – radio, television, music, etc. sometimes, it allows to complete tasks more efficiently. I like to listen to music as I clean, work on DYI projects, cook, etc. – it seems to help me complete tasks faster and actually makes them more enjoyable. When I need to read something important, however, these distractions are “killers.” I have to isolate myself, even from my dog sometimes, in order to read quickly and have maximum comprehension and retention.
- Be Alert and Not Sleep-Deprived: When we are tired, reading tends to lull us into duller states of consciousness. This dullness affects both speed and comprehension. If you are not getting enough sleep at night and must then engage in important reading, taking a short power-nap can help (along with large doses of caffeine).
Consider a Speed-Reading Course
I know. These courses have had somewhat of a bad “rep,” especially those that are sold online. Now that we have more information on the eye-brain connection, however, there are reputable speed reading courses that use the results of more current research and actually get results for their clients. But, make no mistake about it: If you enroll in a speed reading course, you must be committed to practicing the strategies that are taught in each lesson. And those lessons are sequential. You cannot move onto the next one until you have fully mastered the current one. Before enrolling in a speed reading course, consider the following:
- It is not a “miracle” cure for your slow reading habits. It is process of learning and practice just like any other skill. And if you intend to become a “success story,” usually translated into reading 500 words a minute with good comprehension, you need to take each lesson seriously, just as you would an academic course for which you would receive a grade.
- You need to balance the time you will spend on this course with the actual day-to-day demands of school or work. In the long run, if you are required to read a lot, speed reading can be a real time-saver; in the short term, however, it is not, because you cannot implement the strategies on your regular reading tasks – you must begin with the simpler course reading materials.
Is Speed reading a Valuable Skills?
In my profession, it obviously is. I must conduct lots of research in order to perform the writing tasks I have, and reading faster, with comprehension and content retention, means that I accomplish more in a shorter span of time. To me, time is money, and anything I can do to become more efficient means more income. In the end, you must weigh the time requirements of increasing reading speed against the actual reading demands you have.
Is Speed Reading for Everyone?
I think it is, of course. But anyone considering this must remember, it does involve practice and persistence. And, because the practice should first be on simple content, you cannot use any of the strategies on coursework reading until they are mastered. I tried it – it’s frustrating!
I keep thinking that, if some TV commercial for speed reading had been on when I was back in high school, I probably would have bought the program then. Think of all the time I wasted during those years!