in life today is
fast and very few people have time for a slow, leisurely read.
Moreover, being successful depends on assimilating lots of information,
about all kinds of things and from numerous directions. We are what
we know. So it makes sense to
take in as much information as we can in as short a time as possible.
Here are a few techniques to help you do just that:
people read the same
piece of text several times, jumping back to certain words and
rereading specific portions. Ask someone to watch your eyes while you
are reading and notice whether you do this and how often. Make a
conscious effort to stop the habit. Ironically, this can usually be
done by slowing down the reading process by taking time to read
everything once only, then slowly building up speed.
a visual guide to focus
your attention. Many people find their eyes literally dot around from
line to line. This can be overcome by using a pencil or ruler as a
guide under the line you are reading and moving it down for each new
not to move your lips as
you read. Children do this when they are learning to read but as an
adult it proves a hindrance and actually slows you down.
reading faster. Try
to read a little faster every day. Pace yourself with a piece of card
about 1 inch deep at the side of the page you are reading. Read the
section measured the card. Move the card down as you read, consciously
making the movement faster than your reading speed. Do this exercise as
often as you can.
the contents list
and index of every book before you start reading. Only pick up on
important chapters and refer to the index for anything you are not
certain about. This way you will only read the highlights.
to widen your span of
recognition by increasing the number of words you see at each fixation.
Train yourself to read the second words of each line, omitting the
first. Later, make it the third word, then the fourth. In time you will
find yourself missing out huge chunks of unnecessary information while
still retaining what is important.
skip-read an article
or report before you sit down to read it in earnest. Skimming through
section headings and taking in the roughest details of what follows
lets you judge whether the document is worth reading at all. If it is
worth reading, you will already have a good idea as to what sections to
read in depth and which to omit.
to skip over
irrelevant parts. With practice, most people find they can skim across
a page in seconds, omitting irrelevant parts and assimilating important
sections. Try doing this yourself, make a note of what each page
contains and read the page in full, noticing whether you have missed
anything of importance. Efficient skimming depends on knowing, in
advance, what you are looking for in the text: facts, quotes, dates,
significant phrases, and so on.
to know documents you
read most often, like regular reports, your favourite newspapers, and
so on. Study the layout. Notice where unimportant (to you) matters
feature and where features of interest to you can be found. Skip the
former, concentrate on the latter.
critical about the
writing style. If the writing is sloppy, this can slow you down. Ask
yourself whether the contents can be relied on for accuracy or whether
the whole document is flawed and best avoided. Look for sharper writers
on similar topics for the information you need.
reports to explain a subject instead of long, complicated books.
Research indicates that most books can be condensed into report form
without cutting down on essential information.
you refer to the same
text on numerous occasions, use a coloured pen to highlight the most
important parts. Do this on your first reading and miss any untouched
parts on subsequent readings.
Keep distractions to a minimum. Look for a quiet spot to read from,
without children, pets, radio and television playing in the background.
If you have something important on your mind, don't force yourself to
read if the other matter distracts you. Where this happens, put the
reading to one side until a more appropriate time.
choosy about what you
read. If the subject bores you, ask whether you really need to read it
anyway. If it's hard to understand, see whether a good dictionary or
encyclopaedia can give you some useful insight first. Be selective
about the kind of newspapers you read. Avoid junk news and concentrate
on one good newspaper that includes most of the kind of things you want
to know, while avoiding those you don't.
your vocabulary. This
saves time spent looking up what words mean. Add seven or eight new
words to your vocabulary every day. Choose the first unfamiliar words
you come to and write these down, with meaning, in your pocket book.
Make these the words you will learn today.
for other ways to read
while you are doing something else, like driving, commuting, ironing,
relaxing. e.g. Audiobooks on CDs or Mp3 players are invaluable for
letting you make more effective use of your time.
environment as comfortable as possible. This way you will enjoy reading
and retain more. A comfortable chair and good lighting are vital.
Ideally your chair should support your back in an upright, not
slouched, position, with your thighs parallel to the ground. Try not to
cross your legs for long periods. Reading material should be
approximately 18 inches from your eyes with the light coming from
behind. Light coming from the front is distracting and can lead to
eyestrain. Reading directly from a computer screen is inadvisable, but
frequently essential. Anyone who must read for long periods from a
computer screen should take frequent rests and use eye drops to restore
natural fluids the screen draws from the eyes. A screen net is a good
idea for reducing glare. A small amount of water close to the computer,
in a vase or plant pot, will help replace moisture in the air.
when your best
reading time is and make the most of it. For some people this is first
thing in the morning, for others late at night. Make a point of reading
when you are at your best and doing something else when you find
reading or concentration difficult. If you normally have children
around you, try to read while they are sleeping or otherwise
to value your time. Time management books include lots of useful
information about speed reading.