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Up to this point, I’ve discussed things that can help your brain perform better by looking after yourself on the physical level: exercise, diet and nutrition, and sleep.

Now, I want to introduce specific mental techniques that, when properly learned and applied, can help you to learn faster, remember more, and process information better.

In this chapter, I want to show you how you can read faster. But before I do this, it’s important to understand why reading is so important.

Not only does reading introduce you to new ideas, topics, and ways of thinking. It has many other benefits as well, including:

  • Develop your brain as well as help it perform better [1].
  • Increase your vocabulary [2]
  • Help prevent cognitive decline as you age [3]
  • Reduce stress [4]
  • Help you sleep better [5]
  • Improve your mood [6]

We’ve all heard the expression “knowledge is power” and I believe that one of the most practical ways to get knowledge is by reading. The more you read, the more you know and the more you know the more you can achieve.

You can read personal development books to improve how you approach life. You can read books on a topic that interests you to improve your understanding of that topic. You can stay up to date with current events. You can even advance your career, make more money, and live a happier and more fulfilling life.

One of the things that holds people back in reading is the speed that they read. If it takes you weeks to months to finish a book, it can be discouraging. Not only that, by the time you get to the end of the book you might forget what was at the beginning!

Speed reading can help with this exact problem. Not only that, but speed reading has been shown to increase reading rate without a decrease in comprehension [7]. And you can use speed reading techniques for both fiction and nonfiction.

For myself, I have found that my comprehension actually improves when I read faster. This is because I form a better mental structure of the material I’m reading in my head. This gives me both a better overview of the material I’m reading and helps me understand how what I’m reading fits into this structure.

Minimize backtracking

A common problem that slows people down when reading is backtracking. This is the process of re-reading what you already read.

This can happen when you get distracted or aren’t paying full attention to what you are reading.

To address this, read where you are less likely to be distracted, work on increasing your focus, and guide your eye motion.

Guide your eye motion

A common speed-reading technique is to use your finger, a pen or pencil, or similar object, to guide your eye movement.

Your eyes automatically follow things that move. By tracing over the words you are reading, your eyes will naturally follow.

Once your eyes and finger are in sync, you can increase the rate that your finger moves over the page and your eyes will follow along. This increases the speed of your reading.

Minimize subvocalization

When you learned to read, you likely started with reading out loud. You then learned to read quietly, but internally still pronounce each word in your mind as you read it.

This habit typically persists throughout your life – unless you actively change it.

Saying words as you read them, called subvocalization, keeps your reading speed at about the same speed as you talk, or at least talk to yourself. By eliminating subvocalization you can dramatically improve your reading speed.

While this takes some practice, it can have a big effect on how fast you can read.

Take in multiple words at once

A more advanced technique is to read more than one word at a time.

This is done by using your peripheral vision to read multiple words at the same time – typically 2 to 5 words. This is best done after you have minimized subvocalization.

With practice, you will be able to read several words at a time and be able to move through text at lightening speed.

Key Takeaways

Reading can improve your brain and your life in many ways. From increased mood, cognition, learning, and memory to working more effectively towards your goals.

Learning to read faster can accelerate your progress in any area you choose.

Get started today:

For a structured approach to learning to speedread, check out this speed-reading course. This easy-to-follow course will teach you everything you need to know to increase your reading speed.

Works Cited

[1] S. Houston, C. Lebel, T. Katzir, F. Manis, E. Kan, G. Rodriguez and E. Sowell1, “Reading skill and structural brain development,” National Institute of Health, 26 March 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4128180/.

[2] D. Duff, J. B. Tomblin and H. Cattsb, “The Influence of Reading on Vocabulary Growth: A Case for a Matthew Effect,” National Institute of Health, June 2015. [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4610292/.

[3] National Institute of Health, “Cognitive Health and Older Adults,” 1 October 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/cognitive-health-and-older-adults.

[4] D. Rizzolo, G. P. Zipp, S. Simpkins and D. Stiskal, “Stress Management Strategies For Students: The Immediate Effects Of Yoga, Humor, And Reading On Stress,” ResearchGate, January 2009. [Online]. Available: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/229431397_Stress_Management_Strategies_For_Students_The_Immediate_Effects_Of_Yoga_Humor_And_Reading_On_Stress.

[5] Mayo Clinic, “Sleep tips: 6 steps to better sleep,” 17 April 2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/sleep/art-20048379.

[6] R. Robertson, S. J. Wray, M. Maxwell and R. J. Pratt, “The introduction of a healthy reading scheme for people with mental health problems: usage and experiences of health professionals and library staff,” National Institute of Health, December 2008. [Online]. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2777585/.

[7] T. T. N. Yen, “The Effects of a Speed Reading Course and Speed Transfer to Other Types of Texts,” RELC Journal, 1 May 2012. [Online]. Available: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0033688212439996.