We see and we think very rapidly, much faster than we can talk.
Have you ever been in (or narrowly avoided) an accident? Do you remember how much thinking went on in only a few seconds? We think that fast all the time and our subconscious works even faster than our conscious thinking. When you’re driving down a multi-lane highway, changing lanes, talking to your passenger, assessing hazards and watching for cops in the rear-view mirror, your eyes and your brain work almost automatically to use your well-developed driving skills and keep you safely on the road.
Are you skilled at a hobby, or a sport, or at playing a musical instrument? Do you remember how slow and clumsy you were as a beginner? Yet now you can apply the skills rapidly and easily.
Boost Your Reading Speed and Comprehension
Just as you can drive rapidly, you have the brain and eyes that allow you to read really fast. Being able to read your work related material quickly with good concentration and retention is a skill you can improve dramatically.
Here are some tips to help you read more effectively.
- Take a document you need to read this week. First scan the whole document quickly, asking yourself “Why am I reading this now?” The answer to that question is your purpose – the reason you need to read this document this week. You need to find certain key information, you need to refresh your knowledge of some other information, and you need to page rapidly through the document to the end to get a better sense of where the “good stuff” is. This overview helps focus your attention and improve your concentration.
- Try sliding the forefinger of your preferred hand (or your cursor) under each line, reading as quickly as you can understand. Reading is getting information from print. Keep in mind the information you are looking for and read quickly to meet your purpose.
- Try to finish a section or chapter in 5 minutes or less, then look back over what you read and talk to yourself about what you’ve learned. You might want to make a few brief notes.
- Continue through the document this way, reminding yourself about your purpose and looking for the information you need. If you notice that your mind starts to wander at any point, speed up. Mind wandering indicates that you are reading more slowly than you can think and that is a waste of time and energy.
- When you have found the information you need to meet your purpose, add to your notes.
- Then review your understanding of what you have learned and look through the document once again to pick up any additional detail which will be helpful.
This is very similar to a study technique called SQ3R, which stands for Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review, a study method introduced by Francis Pleasant Robinson in his 1964 book, Effective Study.
This technique causes you to work much more effectively with your brain when you’re reading. By surveying the document and asking yourself questions about it, you draw information from your long-term memory and prepare your brain to learn more.
Then you read with more engagement and concentration using your finger to keep you on track.
Next you recite to yourself what you’ve understood while looking back over the document to remind yourself of the various aspects of what you’ve learned. Then you review the questions you asked yourself as you surveyed the document and make sure you know the answers.
Even if you never take a speed reading course, this focused and concentrated reading will help you read faster and remember longer. If you time yourself and keep a record of your progress, you’ll see steady improvement. If you want to push your speed and comprehension even more, consider a speed reading course.