How to speed read
Posted: September 17, 2020 1:12 pm
Speed reading can be a really effective way to quickly absorb high level information when you don’t have the luxury of time. It’s a skill that is easy to develop and can give you many more options if you’re looking for new ways to deal with data under time pressure. When you’re speed reading, rather than looking at each individual word you are instead focusing on phrases or sentences on a page. Most of us read at a pace of about 250 words per minute but if you’re able to develop speed reading skills then you could double this.
When is speed reading a good idea?
It’s a very effective tool if you need to absorb information from a document, such as the conclusions presented or the basic arguments. When we speed read we tend to take in less information so this may not always be an appropriate technique. For example, if you have a technically complex document that you need to absorb and understand then this may simply be something that you need to take more time over. If you’re looking to memorise something then speed reading won’t work for this either as studies have found that you would need to be reading at 100 words per minute or less in order to achieve this. However, for a swift understanding of the essentials speed reading is ideal.
How do you speed read?
Speed reading is switching from essentially pronouncing every single word in your head to skimming the lines on the page. You focus on blocks of words instead of individual words and expand your gaze so that you’re looking at paragraphs as a whole as opposed to each individual word or sentence. There are three methods that can come in useful when you’re looking to improve speed reading skills:
- The Pointer Method. Use your finger and sweep it quickly along the page as you read. You can also use a bookmark or card and move it down line by line.
- The Tracker-and-Pacer Method. Take a pen with the lid still on and underline each line on the page, allowing your eyes to sweep across the paragraph with the pen. Spend no more than a second on each line.
- This approach involves moving your eyes down the centre of the page and simply focusing on key words and phrases, names and numbers as you go.
It’s a good idea to start practicing your speed reading with something easy, such as a novel, so that you can improve your skills without getting frustrated. Make sure there are no distractions and give yourself time and space to improve. Especially if you’re using the skimming method it can be key to make sure you know what you want from the text you’re going to read before you start reading it.
Speed reading is a great skill that can make it much easier to identify information and reduce the amount of time that you spend on individual documents. It’s simple to learn and very effective too.
Find out more by booking onto our Speed Reading & Information Management
How to learn anything quickly
Posted: September 3, 2020 12:20 pm
Learning is the key to growth and development. From acquiring new language skills to picking up coding, being able to drive or embracing new thoughts, ideas and programmes that could help advance a career, having the capacity to learn quickly is essential. If you don’t feel like you’re a particularly effective learner right now these tips could help to improve the speed at which you’re able to do this.
Time your learning sessions.
We all learn differently but the one thing we have in common is the length of time that tends to be effective for learning. A 30-minute burst is often too short to really get to grips with a subject but anything after 50 minutes and our brains tend to switch off.
Take on a teaching role.
Research has found that we engage with subject matter in a different way when we’re preparing to teach it than if we’re just learning to pass a test. If you have to teach content to someone else then you’re likely to engage with it much more fully, create your own cohesive structure for it and be quick to identify the key points.<
Use a pen and paper
If you’re taking notes then it can be tempting to do it with a phone or laptop or even just to record the session. However, a study by researchers at Princeton University and UCLA identified that taking notes by hand encouraged more active listening and meant more engagement with the topic. Devices not only mean that you can switch off but also provide more potential for distraction, such as emails or games.
Space out your learning – and repeat it.
Rather than learning for 120 minutes once a week, schedule your learning for three sessions of 40 minutes. It’s also been found to be beneficial to go back over what you’ve learned so that it really embeds in your brain. Review the information one or two days after studying it, as repeating information like this sends a strong signal to the brain that this is information that should be retained.
Use different techniques in your learning
For example, if your goal is to learn a new motor skill then practising that skill in different ways can give you an advantage when it comes to learning it more quickly. Studies have found that those who used an original learning technique followed by a modified learning technique picked skills up faster than those who just stuck with the same technique throughout.
Get enough rest.
We need to be in good physical condition to be able to learn effectively, especially when it comes to rest and sleep. In fact, one study established that slotting in sleep in between learning sessions (e.g. learning one morning, sleeping that night and then continuing learning the next day) created a twofold advantage in terms of relearning and long term retention.
Being able to learn quickly is a skill that can benefit all of us and these are some of the simplest ways to enhance your current approach.
Find out more by booking onto our How to Learn Anything Quicker