One of the consequences of living in the Information Age is that we are bombarded with huge amounts of written material on a daily basis. We pay a heavy price for this wealth of information with the time we spend reading emails, memos, reports, presentations and other documents. The ease with which texts are distributed results in our reading load increasing all the time. Often we are copied or “cc’ed” in emails that might be of passing interest to us but really have little immediate value. However, the only way to find out whether or not a document requires your attention or is in some way important to you is by actually reading it. Often you find yourself halfway through a lengthy report before you realize that it has no bearing on your job function.
This is where the art of speed reading can be a very valuable time management tool. If you can cut your reading time by half, and you consider that the average person spends two hours of their working day reading, you will immediately save yourself many hours a week.
How to measure your reading rate
The average person reads at a rate of 200 to 300 words per minute. To test your reading speed, choose a text and read for a minute, then count the number of words you have read. The result will be most accurate if you take a variety of texts, ranging from easy to difficult, and calculate your average rate. You can also take a test to establish your reading speed at a number of free websites. Once you know your reading rate, you can take steps to increase it!
How to improve your speed
Start by making sure that you have proper lighting when you are reading. When reading on a PC or laptop, it is possible to alter the display settings so that they are optimal, not too dim and not too harsh. Now try out some of the basic techniques of speed reading.
Don’t subvocalize when you read
Subvocalizing is the act of “sounding out” or hearing the words you read in your head, even while you are reading silently. This inevitably slows you down to the speed of reading aloud, even though the human brain has no trouble comprehending several words at once. Not every word is necessary for comprehension either – for example, you can easily eliminate all “the’s” in a text and still understand the meaning precisely.
Guide your eyes
When we read, our eyes involuntarily dart forward and backward over the words. Using your finger or a pointing device such as a pencil to guide your eyes along the words on the page will make your reading more fluent. It will also give you more control over your reading speed – you can deliberately move your pointing device across the page at a slightly faster speed than your normal reading rate. Using a visual aid to guide your eyes will also focus your mind on what you are reading, preventing the all-too-common occurrence of becoming distracted, and having to reread a passage because your mind has wandered.
Practice active reading
Looking for specific information when you are reading, instead of just passively taking in whatever is on the page, will improve both your reading speed and your comprehension and retention of the text you are reading. Before reading a book, take a few moments to look at the contents page; before reading a report, read through the executive summary – this way you will know what you are looking for when you are reading and can skim through passages that are not pertinent to your purpose. In addition to saving you time, practicing active reading as opposed to passive reading will give you a much better understanding of what you are reading, and help you to retain the information.
If you would like to find out more about productivity techniques and systems to enable you to work smarter not harder, then take action NOW! Contact Wendy on 0407 967715 Email;we***@or*************.au
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