Break Time-Wasting Reading Habits

…and boost productivity!

Hey, guys. I was doing some daily reading rounds online and this question popped into my head:

Do you find it hard to keep your Google Reader items under 100?

Or do you own a stack of unread books that seems to grow higher every month?

Faster reading (with the right method) can improve your comprehension rather than reduce it. Most of us, from a young age, learned to read word by word – maybe even syllable by syllable.

Well, that was fine when we were learning new words for the first time, but what about now? Our old method of reading by gliding over every single word becomes inefficient once we learn most meanings and pronunciations.

Reading walls of text was never an exciting thing for me. I am a terribly slow reader, but I was much worse a few years ago. Taking every single English class my high school offered was not the best choice in retrospect. Had I have known there existed a way to re-learn the way I read, however, I probably would have been able to read the 30 pages assigned to me every night and, in turn, get higher grades and comprehend more.

Required reading takes time, but that time can be greatly reduced by changing the way you read. If you’re a slow reader, your comprehension can diminish even during recreational reading.

To make the most of your time, be sure to avoid these poor reading habits:

1. Unclear reading background To start off, you should focus on the basic concepts of the text you’re reading. With larger texts, determining what important information should be absorbed instead of jumping right into it can be beneficial to your comprehension. When reading a novel, for example, having a grasp on the basic plot and character development will allow you to easily understand, visualize, and read through more detailed passages.

2. Reading…. word… by…. word… This is my favorite tip, and the easiest way to speed up your reading instantly! You don’t have to focus on every word and move on only when you understand it. I know a lot of you also re-read a sentence or two several times before moving on. Re-reading may allow you to understand what you’ve just read, but it does take time. When speed reading, you should focus not on individual words, but groups of words.

Your reading should flow like music. Breaking this flow make sit as hard to comprehend as breaking the flow of music. Focus on the center of a group of words, whatever can fit your vision in one eye movement, and then move on to the next group. Practice getting into a flow by running your finger along the text without stopping; sooner or later it will become instinct!

3. Verbalizing what you read Saying text out loud, hearing it in your mind, and even mouthing words while you read will decrease your speed immensely. Thinking is nonverbal and much faster than speech and physical movements. By doing this, you are wasting your brain’s processing power.

4. Holding the text too close This pairs up with number 2. Holding the text too close won’t let your eyes broadly sweep the page, which will break the flow!

5. Inattention This is a given, I would imagine, but it is a very important factor in reading speed and comprehension. It is obvious that outside distractions such as the television or your brother’s tuba practice session should be turned off or tuned out, but what if your distraction is internal?

Before you read, take a piece of paper and jot down all of your distracting thoughts. Make sure that your activities before reading were not too stimulating. Watching TV before you read could pull your focus away from your book and onto who was eliminated this week in your favorite reality show!

Try one or two or all of these changes in your reading process and see if it makes any difference. Learning to read in clumps helped me most of all. Reading is an important, needed skill we acquired in our younger and formidable years, but just like any rudimentary machine, improvements can and must be made to gain maximum efficiency!

Just a small step in improvement can benefit large portions of your life in the future.

photo credit: dcolson5201 | diavolo_felice

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2 responses to “Break Time-Wasting Reading Habits

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    Any help would be really appreciated!

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