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Speed Reading: How to Read More in Less Time

Hiba Hiba Follow Sep 18, 2021 · 7 mins read
Speed Reading: How to Read More in Less Time
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Inspired by a Mindvalley masterclass

You love to read and there are lots of books on your wishlist. There might even be a row of books in your home waiting to be read. You simply don’t find the time to read. A feeling of guilt creeps in when you think about all the books you’re yet to read… If this sounds familiar, you need to read this blog.

If you’ve seen this blog before, you know that I’m the kind of person who reads a lot. From March 2020 to March 2021, I’ve finished reading 40 books, which is approximately 3 books per month. I love sharing my reading experience through this blog and my Instagram page.

I’ve been asked how I read all these books, how do I find the time?? The answer was simply I had a lot of time, and I decided to spend most of it reading.

During the pandemic lockdown in 2020, our college classes were all online. So, I had a lot of time on my plate. Reading books, exploring new genres, book blogging, photography, along freelance content writing is how I spent my time.

Fast forward to 2021. I picked up content writing as freelance work. Started spending a lot of time working on my marketing and SEO skills. In August, I got a job as an in-house content marketer at a leading fin-tech company in India. Of course, the very first thing I purchased after receiving my first salary was books! But, there was a catch.

It occurred to me that I had very little time to read! After work hours, I barely had the time to open a book. Even if I did, my reading pace was snail slow—I finished reading a novel in August, which had I started in June!

I desperately needed to find a way to read more.

Around this time, I came to see an Instagram ad related to the exact problem I was facing. It was about one of Mindvalley’s training. For those of you who don’t know, Mindvalley is a personal growth learning platform that brings out knowledge on personal growth, spirituality, mindfulness, and more. Founded by Vishen Lakhiani, Mindvalley has valuable courses taught by the world’s best trainers, coaches, and authors.

The ad was about a free webinar to be hosted by Vishen and Jim Kwik who is a speed reading expert and trainer. In that ad, Vishen addressed the issues of our slow-paced reading and how our lifestyle gets in the way of our reading life. I was surprised by this particular fact Vishen mentioned:

The last time we were taught to read was when we were 6; we still follow the same way of reading when we were six! It’s high time we upgrade our reading skills.

I quickly signed up for the free webinar. It was actually a precursor for one of Mindvalley’s paid programs, but it was filled with value bombs that helped me to accelerate my reading.

After doing some research on my own and following the Mindvalley class, I was able to speed up my reading and finish up that book I’ve been reading for months!

The science of speed reading

In reality, we spend a lot of time reading— from social media posts to newspapers, emails, white papers, company reports, and so on. Because of our hectic life, any kind of extra reading takes a backseat.

Why is this so? Because the act of reading is very time-consuming:

  • Most adults read around 200 words per minute.
  • A typical book has 64,000 words, which means it will take more than 5 hours to finish a single book.
  • In today’s tech-oriented world where literally any task can be done in minutes or simply be automated.

Therefore reading a book becomes a very time-consuming task.

So, the reason why we can’t read is that we don’t know how to manage our time in this world where we experience an information overload.

The best way to solve this problem is to read faster. Speed reading is working smart. By doing this, you will be able to cut time in half. Remember, once you give up on reading, you give up on knowledge. And, knowledge is not only power but also profit.

reading boy on sofa graphic

You might think that increasing your reading speed will not allow you to grasp what you are reading. This is absolutely wrong! The biggest myth around reading is you need to read slowly to grasp everything well.

Imagine this: A person driving a race car and a person driving a normal car- who is likely to have more concentration? Of course the person driving 200mph will be more active and skilled, while the guy driving a normal car will be distracted by many things going on.

The technique of speed reading is based on scientific facts. The human brain needs stimulus, which means slow reading actually starves the mind. Therefore, speed reading isn’t an extraordinary thing; it’s a skill all of essentially needs to master.

In this blog, you will find how to enhance your reading skills, read more in less time, and be more productive. Don’t let lack of time come in the way of reading anymore!

Know your base rate

To begin with, you need to count your current reading rate (number of words read per minute). This can be done with a quick activity.

Use a timer on your phone to count down to 60 seconds. Start reading the pages of a book till the timer ends. Now, mark till where you have read and count the number of lines. Multiply the number of lines by the average number of words in a line (usually 5). You’ve got your current base rate.

When I did this exercise, my base count rate was 180 words/minute. It’s actually less than the average rate.

Visual pacer technique

This is a very simple technique, but the effect if has will surprise you.

While reading, use your finger to focus. Move your finger across the words. The next step is to count your base rate while using this visual pacer technique. You will find that your reading rate has significantly gone higher!

speed reading with finger as visual pacer

I could read 260 words per minute while using my fingers to focus. That’s a 44% increase from the base rate!

Why is the visual pacer technique so effective and why should you use it while reading?

The simplest reason is that our eyes follow motion. Also, two senses are involved in the process (both sight and touch) when we use our finger to pace.

Use this simple technique and see how you read more in less time, that too with increased focus!

Minimise subvocalization

The second way to read with speed is to reduce subvocalization

Wait what?

Subvocalization involves saying the words in your head while reading silently. This is considered a main reason why reading takes so much time. This habit is very common among readers and originated in childhood when we were first taught to read.

subvocalization child learns to read

The truth is, you don’t need to pronounce every word in your head to understand it. By simply seeing a word, you can get the meaning.

This means that in reading, words don’t matter! Shocking isn’t it? Reading is about ideas, it’s absorbing information. The moment you realise this, you will be a better, faster reader. Subvocalization cannot be eliminated completely, but you can decrease it significantly.

Now, how do you actually minimise subvocalization? Try the following simple techniques:

  • Use your hands to guide you while reading (as discussed above)
  • Distract yourself
  • Listen to music while reading

To Conclude

I’m so grateful that I came across that Instagram ad, mainly for two reason- one I realised the problem I was facing is normal and faced by almost every adults. And secondly, I understood that there was a logical solution to it.

The goal is to read at the speed of your thought. If you have been a voracious reader in the past, you have probably done this. Once you grasp the art of speed reading, you’ll be able to save more time, read efficiently, and feel a lot more productive.

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Written by Hiba Follow
Blogger, love to explore new ideas and write on my morning coffee!