It’s no secret that most people read too slowly. It takes most people three to four times as long to pour over a text as they would have taken if they were reading it the way you might remember from your school days (or, say, with audiobooks).
Trying to go back and reread paragraphs or chapters is likely just going to cause frustration and confusion: we’ve already moved on and forgotten what we’ve read. So, what’s the answer to speed reading and enhancing reading skills?
In this post, we’ll explore several strategies forgoing the traditional methods for speed readers of skimming and scanning. We’ll look at several tools that have been developed for reading speed: a “blink reader”, and a “time-to-read” tool to make the slow reader better and achieve reading goals.
What Is Speed Read and how to be a skilled reader?
Speed reading has become an essential part of our lives in recent years. Many of us are now so used to the idea of speed reading that we don’t even think about how fast we’re reading. But what exactly is speed reading?
While there are no comprehension tests or even one perfect way to do speed reading, some general guidelines will help you improve your reading skills and make you the fastest reader.
Speed read tip 1: Skimming and Scanning
Speed reading is the act of taking a few tricks from skimming, breaking them down into digestible chunks, and incorporating them into your normal reading process. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by using “scanning.”
To practice scanning, set a timer for a few minutes. Grab the book or magazine that you want to practice with. Once your timer is up, read the book and only look at each paragraph’s first, second, and third sentences.
If you find something interesting, go back and reread it. If not, move on to the next paragraph. Keep going through each section until you’re down to the end of the article/chapter/book — whatever you’re reading then. Then, set your timer for a few more minutes and repeat.
This is a great way to read virtually any text fast. It’s simple to do, it doesn’t require any skill or practice, and the reading is vastly improved. When I first started doing this, I was amazed at how fast I could read. It also made reading a lot more fun because I didn’t have to slow down and reread a sentence repeatedly.
There are two significant issues with this technique, though: it’s challenging to read more than one book this way at the same time, and reading linear works is difficult to do when (like me) you like to jump around in books. For example, if you’re reading a 500-page book and you’re trying to read every third sentence, that’s 1,000 sentences per page. Multiply that by 600 pages, and you’ve got 600,000 sentences to read. That’s a lot of reading!
You can make the scanning technique faster by limiting yourself to only looking at the first sentence of each paragraph.
To do this, set your timer for a shorter amount of time — 10 minutes, say. You don’t need as many sentences to get the gist of what’s happening in the book. You’ll also be able to see where the paragraphs start and stop. This makes getting through a book much faster because you don’t have as much of a “to read” pile. (This could be good for those trying to finish their reading list—too many books to read.)
Speed Read Tip 2: The Blink Reader
The blink reader puts a speed-reading spin on scanning, and it’s an excellent tool for any time you’re trying to read more quickly.
The blink reader is pretty simple to use. You pick a book of your choice, start a timer, and then read the whole thing. You can use the same 20-minute timer you used for scanning, or you can make it shorter if you need to (e.g., 10 minutes).
To use a blink reader, all you have to do is move your eyes across the page as fast as possible without losing your place. Move your eyes up and down in quick eye movements to do this. You can also do this with your head — keep moving your head up and down. You can even get creative here.
Some people like to put their fingers on the page to help them keep their place. And you can use a tape recorder; again, hold it up to your ear just as you would if you were talking into a phone.
The only problem with this technique is that it’s hard to do if you’re reading something difficult for you (e.g., complex language, Alcatraz). In this case, you’re only going to be able to read the most basic of ideas. But if you do decide to try the blink reader with a book that’s out of your reach, start with a shorter time (e.g., 5 or 10 minutes).
Speed Read Tip 3: The Time-to-Read
Many reading experts will tell you that getting faster at reading doesn’t seem like something that can be done overnight. This is because when you try to increase your reading time, you’re only going to read through the most basic sentence patterns. For example, if you’re trying to “speed-read” a passage from The Art of War, which contains words like “battlefield” and “victory,” you’re only going to be able to focus on the most basic sentence patterns.
That’s why it’s essential to use tools like a time-to-read tool like Time Read. Time Read doesn’t read books for you, but it does give you a sense of how fast you’re reading by putting together a data point for each book (or article).
If you’re following the Blink Reader technique, it’ll also show you how many times your eyes went back and forth on the page. With this tool, you can see how fast you’re “getting through” a book or article, and it’ll also let you know how many times your eyes went back and forth on the page.
I like that Time Read also gives you a sense of time—how long it takes to read each section. It’s pretty simple to use: click the blue Time Read button in your browser. You’ll then see a big screen with various statistics about the book or article and the time to read each section.
If you’re looking to read more quickly, using a speed-reading tool like Time Read can help you keep track of how long it takes you to complete an article or chapter. If you’re looking to focus on your reading speed, using the blinking technique is a quick way to cut your time by a significant amount. And if you’re looking to pick up some scanning tricks, try out some of these methods and see which one works best for you.