The main reason I was working on my previous startup - Condensr, was to help entrepreneurs save time reading books by listening to an in-depth 10-minute narration of the book.
When I initially came up with the idea, it was because I was thinking about how my day-to-day looked like, and how I may optimize it better.
Call me weird, but I really enjoy reading a lot.
Being a naturally quiet person, sitting down and reading in silence is great.
It even gets my brain flowing with ideas, some that I want to implement as soon as I'm done reading.
But every entrepreneur can probably agree that more times than once, we have more pressing matters to attend to.
We may have a project that needs to be worked on, we may have a meeting coming up soon, we may have work to do.
Or maybe we just want to read faster either because we've seen many people 'speed read' or we just want to be able to do more with our time.
In this article, we're going to discuss a few realistic tips that I have which have helped me read faster.
Quick disclaimer, one or two of these ideas are still ideas I'm not a professional in but have worked extremely well for 'speed-reading-gurus.'
Here are the 5 ways to increase your reading speed by 10X.
Stop re-reading words
I've got to admit, I'm a big re-reader.
I don't re-read books, but I re-read words that I've already read previously.
When I'm reading a book, there's usually 10s or 100s of other things on my mind which can sometimes take the place of actively reading.
As soon as I regain consciousness, I realize that I didn't comprehend any of what I just read.
This makes me go back and re-read the part that I didn't completely understand.
This process doesn't only happen once, it doesn't happen twice, it happens many times on every single page and it's a very common habit that most readers deal with.
Looking at someone read, you may notice that their eyes are constantly going back and forth, not because they're reading insanely quick and having to change lines, but because they jump back a few words or sentences to re-read them.
See reading is a very passive and easy-to-do task.
You just pick up a book, open it and start reading.
That's why it's easy to task switch whilst reading - distracting you and making you skip back a few words or lines to re-read them.
To stop doing this, there are two main ways.
The first way is to just try and keep focused on the book and the words being read out.
This way it makes it harder for your brain to go outside of what you're reading and therefore you're able to better comprehend the book's content.
The second way is to use some sort of reading guide.
When we're in nursery and we're learning how to read, we're probably first taught to read using something like your finger or a pen to track every word, one by one.
We can use a similar technique to this.
Your finger or your pen gliding across the page will make it easier to follow along and stay on track.
This also helps with something called fixation which I'm not going to mention as a singular step itself.
fixation is the act of reading by fixating your view on one area of a line, which is done multiple times.
When we're reading, we don't just read in a straight line, we read from certain spots on the book.
I'm going to place a few markers on the line below to demonstrate this:
In order to be successful, ||| you should read all my articles because ||| they're helpful for entrepreneurs. Agreed?
I used two fixations marked by three lines like this: |||
Every person fixates differently, but the aim is to limit fixation and read in a straight line.
Using the same exercise as above may help you build up this habit.
There will most likely be some slip-ups which we'll have to be fine with.
This is sort of like developing a new habit, which I've written about a few times on my blog.
Keep trying and you will see some progress.
Subvocalization is probably the hardest one to stop doing.
Whenever you're doing something like reading or writing, do you hear that little voice in your head that is just repeating everything?
That is your voice (I hope).
If you overthink a lot, then you probably know this voice all too well.
The reason why this slows you down is that we tend to speak slower than we read.
Although one can argue that we speak as fast as we read, each person is different and so we can't make a distinct judgment.
Eith way, when we're speaking (in our heads) what we're reading, it makes it very hard to start reading faster.
This is because you're only going to be able to read as fast as you can speak the words in your head.
Try this - try to re-read the sentence above by only looking at it, not reading it in your head.
Humans are really used to something going on, silence is scary.
There's this room built by Microsoft called the Anechoic chamber.
It's said to be the quietest room in the world.
Many people have done challenges trying to stay in that room for a really long time, usually less than an hour.
The room is so quiet that you're able to hear the inner workings of your body.
It's said that around 45 minutes in that room can cause humans to start hallucinating and going crazy.
We're not used to dead silence like this and the same goes for reading.
We may have the voice regurgitating what we say because:
- We think it's the only way to understand what we're reading and.
- We hate absolute silence
In order to stop this inner monologue, you may want to use the techniques I shared in my article about writing a 30,000-word book in a week.
One of the practices in there was to use some sort of background music, or instrumental - I prefer jazz, to play in the back whilst I write.
This can work for reading too so give it a shot.
Use a highlighter
During sixth form (right before university here in the UK), we had to do a lot of highlighting in lessons like economics and sociology.
I've never been much of a highlighter, I've always thought it sounds a little girly, quite sexist I know.
Once I started reading books for myself, I realised how beneficial highlighting can be.
Instead of taking notes and reflecting on what you're reading, which is something I mentioned in my last article, I decided to start reading and highlight things that stood out to me in that book.
I have 17 books that I've read over the past year and a bit, every single one is covered with a highlighter.
As entrepreneurs, we may find ourselves revisiting a certain book once or twice.
This makes it so much easier to find what we're looking for, speeding up our reading time.
Instead of having to reread chapters all again, using a highlighter allows you to quickly and effectively find what you're looking for.
On top of this, when you're reading the book for the first time, using a highlighter can help you with the first habit of re-reading words.
Highlighting things that are important allows you to better understand the context of the book.
If you prefer not to highlight what you find important, you can even go through and highlight the things you missed so you're able to revisit them after you finish reading for the day.
Highlighting may seem counter-intuitive for those looking to read faster than the speed of light, but it's definitely helped me both comprehend the book better and read faster.
After all, if you comprehend the book, there's no reason to jump back a few words or sentences, right?
Next time you read, highlight what you find important and you may realise that you're actually getting through pages faster than you were before.
Scan the book
During my 30+ interviews for Condensr, I had the chance to talk to many entrepreneurs who read lots of books.
One of the main things I picked up was that the issue wasn't taking long to read, it was wasting time reading the wrong books.
To counter this, many people first went ahead and listened to a synopsis of the book.
This was to see if the book will be discussing something worthwhile.
After that, they may have picked up the book itself or went on Amazon's preview feature and looked over the contents page of the book.
Amazon allows you to look inside the book and read a certain amount of it before purchasing.
This is helpful because you'd be able to get a better understanding of the book itself and what the author is going to dig deeper into.
From here, they would decide if the book is worth the read or not.
I wanted to take this a step further today in this article.
I believe that this is a great practice, but it doesn't specifically allow you to read faster.
In order to make this worth your time, you'll want to pick out the chapters that sound interesting and worth reading for you.
Every book will have some good chapters and some bad ones in there too.
This is a great way to save yourself a lot of reading time, which in turn can allow you to read the book faster.
Go through the contents page of the book or the headers of each chapter and figure out which chapters will be enticing enough to read.
After you've done this, you can even bring another strategy into practice.
Word-bunching or word-chunking is a strategy where, instead of reading one word at a time, you bunch up some words together and read in phrases.
This helps you drastically speed up your reading time because instead of reading words one by one, you'll be getting through more words quicker.
This strategy may work for you, whilst it may not work for others.
It's all about trying and testing to see what works best.
Your peripheral vision is what you can see in the corner of your eyes.
Your peripheral vision is a lot more powerful than you think.
Sitting down here, writing this article, I can actually almost see at a 180-degree angle whilst only looking at my laptop's screen.
Your peripheral vision can cover well over 90% of what we see even though it only has access to around 50% of the photoreceptor cells.
This is the biggest secret that all speed readers use.
They read by fixating on a single point on the line in the book and then using their peripheral vision to read the whole line.
This will definitely require a lot of practice to get a hold of but it's a very powerful technique nonetheless.
Many who have mastered this technique are able to read, with full comprehension, 1 book a week, or even faster.
One of the people I interviewed actually read 2 books per week.
He was an advocate for reading and handed all his success to reading itself.
The final tip left to give about reading 10X faster is to just practice.
You've probably had enough of hearing people talking about this.
"Just do it!"
"Don't give up!"
"Practice makes perfect."
Although I'm not a massive fan of all these sayings too, I do agree with them.
When was the last time you were successful with something without constant repetition and effort?
Unless it was something as automatic as waking up in the morning, for example, then it's likely you haven't.
Speed reading is a craft that requires perfection like anything else.
Reading more and more every day is the easiest place to start.
If you already read once a day, read 30 minutes longer.
Or even read once in the morning and once later on in the day.
Don't forget to implement everything you've learnt in this article and see what works for you.
Here's an article about learning anything 10X faster which should help you with these tips.
With this article and the one above, you're surely able to learn to read faster in no time.
It's said that on average, humans can read about 250 words per minute.
By reading every day, you'd be able to record how many words you're reading within a 60-second timeframe.
You can do this a few times per day.
Set some SMART goals as to how much you're looking to read daily, how fast you want to read and how soon you're looking to reach that goal.
With that said, these were the 5 (it's more than that but 5 is nice and round) tips to reading 10X faster - Quickly.
Did you learn anything new from this article?
What other reading tips do you have?
Let me know in the comments below.
Till next time,