Learning to speed read large volumes of texts is one of the most valuable time investments you can make for your education and your career. Imagine how much more you could accomplish in your life by increasing your reading speed by 300% or more. If you’ve seen the movie Limitless, with those fun little pills, then you already have some idea what might be possible.
Below are six exercises you can use to increase your reading speed.
1. Read Your Text Without Mouthing Or Speaking the Words
Reading words out loud — or even just whispering them silently to yourself — is like driving your car with the parking brake engaged. If your lips are moving, you are slowing yourself down.
2. Discipline Your Brain To Read Whole Sentences At A Time
In school, most children are taught to read a text one word at a time. That’s fine for beginners, but for the advanced speed reading – you have to practice expanding your focus so that you read entire sentences at once.
3. Don’t Try To Understand What You’re Reading
Now this exercise seems a bit counterintuitive, but it is an important component of your overall plan to improve reading speed. Sometimes our mind gets in the way when we are trying to read and digest large volumes of text. Have you ever found yourself halfway through a paragraph, only to find a certain phrase or sentence triggers some random thought trail, and off you go on a tangent. Ten seconds later, you realize that your eyes have continued to read the text, but your brain checked out 3 sentences back.
With this exercise, you’re going to give your mind the day off. Don’t think through what you’re reading. Don’t analyze anything. Just focus on reading those words as fast as possible.
The first few times you try this exercise, you’ll get to the end of the text and realize that you retain very little of it. This comprehension lag is to be expected in the beginning, but with repeated practice your comprehension will begin to catch up to your increased reading speed.
4. Ignore Unimportant Words
It has been estimated that only about 40% to 60% of the words in a text are actually necessary to communicate the message of the text. Make sure to practice ignoring conjunctions, adjectives and adverbs. Look for the most important words in each sentence. You may even try marking up a text with a pen, circling the 5-10 most important words and ignoring the others.
5. Improve Motor Skills With Trackers And Pacers
Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Work Week, taught this exercise to a group of students at Princeton University in 1989. To practice this method, you will need a book that lies flat when opened on your reading table. A spiral-bound textbook would work great for this. You’ll also need a pen and a digital timer that counts seconds as well as minutes.
With the cap still on or with the tip retracted, use the pen to “underline” each line of text. As you do so, carefully focus your eyes on the line of text just above the tip of your pen.
Move the pen under each line of text at an exact pace of one second per line. Practice at this pace for 1-2 minutes. Then take a break for a few seconds and do it again, but for the second time, continue the exercise for a full three minutes. Do not attempt to comprehend the text. This exercise is meant to train your nervous system and fine motor eye movements.
These tips should have you reading at speeds you have never achieved before. And those “fun little pills” we mentioned at the start? Well, there is a version available called Modafinil, which is basically a wakefullness drug that helps with clarity of thought. You can get it on sites like ModafinilCat, which has an excellent reputation on Reddit. While this isn’t the silver bullet to unlock your maximum reading potential, it could help get you reading and processing information faster and more accurately.