In the last of this four-part series on reading more productively, you have read up on bad habits that you may have developed throughout the years. Hopefully you took away some new strategies and more aggressive techniques that will make you more productive and efficient than before you began reading this series. If you didn’t catch the three other posts from previous weeks, you can click the links below to become an even more productive reader than you are right now.
Today, we will cover 9 more handy tips that will help you read more productively with instant results.
Stop fiddling around on the details when a paragraph, page or chapter stumps you. Continue reading forward and don’t ease off. The author will summarize what was said at the end and give you a snapshot that should be clear, concise and to the point. Continuously regressing, trying to digest what you just read not only slows you down, but is counterproductive.
Take In More Words At Once
When you read, you should read more than one word at at time. Your eyes do not move in a steady rate, but rather they only stay still for a fraction of a second. They jump around from one fixation point to the next. Therefore, it is more productive to ingest more words at the same time and lean forward in your reading. A group of words or a word phrase has more meaning than reading a single word which provides more data for the reader. When you take in sentence fragments and allow your eyes to naturally take you from one fixation point to the next using these fragments, you are probably looking at 3-5 fixations or sentence fragments per line depending on the reading.
Stop Mind Wandering
Reading one word at a time creates a slower rate of reading and your mind starts wondering. The faster you read the more you engage your mind and fight against drifting.
When we speed read, our eyes demand more strength or they can become tired. This happens because of the amount of concentration and demand you are placing on them. Don’t worry. It won’t take long to strengthen your eyes. At first, take a five minute break every 25-30 minutes when reading, and your eyes will eventually make the adjustments that are needed.
Use A Pacer
Use a pacer like your finger, a pencil or a note card. Let the pacer flow across the printed word in a steady manner to help your eyes focus. This also fights against regression. In order to help you see phrases more clearly, use a note card with carets that are spaced out every inch at the top of the card. Your eyes will focus on the group of words in between each caret and move naturally with each fixation.
Increase Your Vocabulary
Increase your vocabulary so that you can recognize more words. Learning the nuts and bolts of one or two foreign languages has helped me with word association and origin. Learning scientific terms is great for learning word origins.
Track Your Reading Speed With A Simple Formula
- Count the number or words in 7 lines and divide by 7. This is your Words Per Line.
- Count the number of lines you read.
- Multiply the Words Per Line by the number of lines you read. This is your Total Words Read.
- Divide the Total Words Read by number of minutes you read. This is your Words Per Minute.
- Experiment by reading for one minute and evaluating yourself. Eventually you can work up to longer periods of time.
- Apply different speed reading techniques and determine which works best for you.
- After you master one technique, apply another to the current technique.
Create A Conversation
Discuss what you are reading to increase the knowledge you gain. In order for your mind to put down what your eyes pick up, you must regurgitate the information you are receiving. After reading something interesting, use it as a conversation starter or ice breaker with a friend or stranger when you start to make it concrete.
Summarize The Main Ideas
My last tip is on comprehension. This little exercise has helped me a great deal. Begin by reading a paragraph and summarizing it in one to two sentences, and then move on to the next. If you can do that effectively, then try reading a page. Write 3-5 sentences after reading each page. Once you believe you have mastered that, try a chapter. This comes in handy when you are studying a chunk of material and want to improve your comprehension. All you are really doing is taking notes or writing a book report in the progress of reading. This little exercise comes in handy for me when I’m reading self-improvement content and doing research.