If you could pick any superpower in the world to have, which superpower would you choose?
Flying? Invisibility? Super strength?
When Bill Gates and Warren Buffett were asked this question, Gates answered,
“Being able to read super fast.”
Interestingly, Warren Buffett said the same thing, adding,
“I’ve probably wasted 10 years reading slowly.”
Two of the richest people in the world agree that if they could have only one superpower in the whole world, they both wish they could read faster.
Why? Because information is the most valuable commodity out there. And your ability to read faster will undoubtedly speed up how fast you learn.
It really is a superpower, but unlike invisibility or super strength, becoming a faster reader is a superpower that anyone can learn to acquire. You just have to break a few bad habits and build a few good ones.
That said, here are three reading habits that help to increase your reading speed.
1) Get Rid of That Inner Voice In Your Head
From a young age, most of us are taught to read out loud. But as we improve, we are then taught to read inside our heads. This is known as subvocalization, which is that little voice you hear in your head while you read.
Unfortunately, subvocalization is one of the most problematic reading habits people have. Why? Because according to the National Center for Voice and Speech, the average talking speed for most people is about 150 words per minute.
Therefore, if you say the words in your head while you read, you’ll only be able to read at 150 words per minute. That’s incredibly slow. Fortunately, there’s an easy fix for this.
“The first thing you can do is press the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth as you read.”
Harry says that doing this will help stop you from unintentionally mouthing the words as you read, which will help reduce the amount of subvocalization you hear while reading.
As a child, Harry had a speech impediment and his reading speed suffered as result. But by going through speech therapy and practicing techniques like this one, Harry was able to work up to 1,500 words per minute.
Another thing you can do to reduce subvocalization is try listening to instrumental music while you read. This technique is highly recommended by Jim Kwik, founder of Kwik Learning and a widely recognized world expert in speed-reading and accelerated learning.
Kwik says that listening to music (preferable lyric-less music) will help mute your reading-aloud inner voice and put you in a state of concentration and focus.
When Kwik was a child, he suffered a brain injury that left him learning-challenged. And by using simple strategies like this one, Kwik was able to dramatically enhance his mental performance.
So there you go! These two techniques will significantly help you reduce the amount of subvocalization you hear while reading. Yes, getting rid of subvocalization will be very difficult in the beginning. But your brain is very efficient. With practice, you will easily be able to do it.
2) Quit Reading The Same Lines Over and Over
It happens all the time. You get to the end of a page or halfway through a paragraph and you realize you haven’t comprehended anything you just read.
Even though your eyes were looking at the words you were reading, your mind was somewhere else. As a result, you go back to the top and start re-reading everything you just read
This is known as regression. And according to Tim Ferriss, author of “The Four-Hour Work Week,”
“The untrained subject engages in regression (conscious rereading) and back-skipping (subconscious rereading via misplacement of fixation) for up to 30 percent of total reading time.”
30%! This means that out of every 60 minutes, the typical reader spends 20 minutes re-reading the same material! This is a huge problem. But why do we do this?
Well, the main reason people regress while reading isn’t because of a lack of understanding, but rather a lapse in concentration.
One way you can fix this is to immediately stop reading books you’re not passionately interested in.
Why? Because when you’re not interested in what you’re reading, your brain starts to wander. As a result, you’re going to constantly have to go back to re-read paragraphs you weren’t paying attention to the first time.
Remember, it’s always better to read books that sincerely interest you, rather than waste weeks trying to force yourself to get through a book just because you feel you should.
3) Keep Your Eyes Moving Forward With A Pacer
When you’re reading, it feels like your eyes are seamlessly flowing across the words in one clean smooth line, right?
According to modern eye-tracking technology, this isn’t actually what’s happening. Instead, you’re actually reading in a sequence of jumps from one point to another.
These points are called fixations. And, on average, an untrained reader will have about 10 fixations per line as their eyes read from left to right.
To demonstrate this, close one eye, place a fingertip on top of that eyelid, and then slowly scan a straight horizontal line with your other eye. You will feel distinct and separate movements and periods of fixation.
Unfortunately, we can end up unintentionally lingering on random fixation points longer than we should. Because of this, we tend to lose a lot of time while reading.
Therefore, the fewer fixations you have while reading, the less time you’ll spend reading each page. So how do you reduce the number of fixations you have? It’s simple. Use a pacer.
A pacer is a tool to point at sentences as you read them. It could be your finger, a pen, or even an object such as a credit card. Now the great thing about using a pacer is that it helps train your eyes to keep moving forward.
Remember, your eyes are constantly fixating so using a pacer will help stabilize these fixations. This will help guide your eyes to read faster and move more easily through text.
You Can Easily Double Your Reading Speed Overnight
Very quickly, imagine what your life would look like if you were able to double your reading speed overnight.
If you doubled your reading speed, you would easily be able to finish a book a week by reading just 15–20 minutes a day. That’s insane. And that’s exactly the type of impact that applying just these 3 reading habits will have on your life.
Yes, they may be uncomfortable at first, but keep practicing them. And before you know it, you will have easily doubled (possibly even tripled) your reading speed!
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