Some time ago I decided to start reading best-selling business books an hour a day every day. My current book is Thinking, Fast and Slow which is super useful but also over 500 pages long. It takes weeks to finish it so I decided to give a try to speed reading. At first my reading speed was around 200 words per minute. After a few weeks of practice I can do at least twice the speed with still much room for improvement. Considering English is not my native language then I am happy so far.
- Re-reading (Regression) – Read everything only once.Some sources say that reading sentences over can waste 20 minutes in every hour. If you resist re-reading then you can increase speed by 50% alone (40min to 60min an hour). First you can feel that you did not understand the text but I have seen myself understanding the text even without re-reading. Most books explain concepts thoroughly which helps you understand it with following sentences and it really works.
- Subvocalization – Don’t listen to voices in your head, it slows you down.
This is actually the hardest part. When you read and hear someone talking the text in your head then your maximum reading speed is limited by the speed of your talk.
Key here is to see words as images. When you watch a house for a fraction of second then you get huge amount of information: door, windows, color, roof etc etc. This proves you that you don’t need to describe loud all details of house for understanding what it is. In the same way you can take words as images and you will comprehend much faster.
- Fixation – Take in several words at a time
There is tiny pause between your eyes focusing from one word to next. During reading your eyes are usually focused 200-250ms a time and pause between fixations is 20-40ms. When making less fixations your reading speed can be up 10% from fewer pauses only. When spending same amount of time looking at 2 words a time instead of one then your reading speed is doubled.
Don’t forget that every skill needs practice and you cannot become expert speed reader in a few hours just like you cannot become chess master immediately after learning the moves. I recommend free online tool http://spreeder.com/ for practising speed reading. Go ahead and ramp up your speed to 600wpm which overwhelms your subvocalization so your brain needs to start working differently to understand the words. Be relaxed and don’t try too hard to understand everything at first. This is just the practice before you can start to really exploit the new skill.
Good luck in tripling your reading speed and learning ability!!