Without a doubt, becoming a better reader is tantamount to becoming better at learning.

You might hate reading, or it might be the opposite of your learning style and preferences, but you’re not going to be able to avoid it. Most of your initial consumption of information is going to come through the written word, especially if you are taking your learning into your own hands. What you do with the information after you’ve consumed it is up to you, but you’re still going to start any new learning venture by reading voraciously and consuming as much as possible 먹튀검증.

It’s the initial gatekeeper that prevents most people from getting into their learning groove. They’ll look at a new book or even series of articles and determine it would take them too long to finish, so what’s the point? The sense of instant gratification is destroyed when you read slowly or ineffectively. Learning about something new will appear to be a boulder of a task.

That’s why becoming a better reader is so important. It’s the first step that you’ll have to take whenever you want to learn something new.

Being better at reading generally has three parts that I’ll cover in more detail: speed, efficiency, and how much is retained.

Reading Faster

For most people that haven’t studied speed reading on an individual level, attempting to read too quickly can result in greatly reduced comprehension. This means the faster most people read, the less they understand and can make use of.

This isn’t a book that will tell you to read as quickly as possible. However, there are a few small improvements you can make to continually tweak the speed of your reading, so what previously took days can now take hours to read and comprehend.

The first tip to increasing your reading speed is to decrease the sub-vocalizations you use.

A sub-vocalization is something you are probably doing right now. It is when you mentally say and hear the word you are reading. It’s a habit that is mostly unnecessary, though is helpful when you want to slow down for increased comprehension. The simple fact is we can understand and process a word more quickly than we can say or hear it. Putting a stop, or at least decreasing, your internal dialogue while reading will greatly help your reading speed. If reading out loud is the first and slowest level, hearing sub-vocalizations is only the second and slightly faster level.

The second tip to reading fast is to practice reading more than one word at a time. Reading word by word is slow and fairly ineffective and can result in incorrect comprehension because you focus on the individual word and not the contextual phrasing or meaning in the text. It’s the classic case of getting bogged down in the trees and not being able to see the overall forest.

Start with reading two words together at once. This will require practice, but when you start doing it, you will realize that you can absolutely don’t need to read each word individually. You can think of the two words as a contraction. When you get comfortable with two words at once, you can move onto three and four words, until you can look at a sentence that is ten words and reduce it to the two five-word phrases it contains. That’s the end goal: to be able to synthesize phrases like you would individual words. One of the keys to reading more at once is to make sure that your eyes are widened and dilated as if you are trying to use your peripheral vision.

The third tip on speed reading is to improve your visual focus. We constantly lose our place and re-read phrases, and even entire paragraphs, because we get distracted with what’s happening elsewhere. This causes you to regress or digress in your reading, which is doubly detrimental to your reading speed. It causes you to have to get back into, “What was this part about, again?”

The simple way to improve your visual focus when reading is to use a placeholder or pointer, such as an index card, pencil, or even your finger. Give your eyes a bulletproof guideline on where to be and where to flow, and they will follow. It will keep you on pace, and prevent reading regression to keep you more immersed in the subject matter.

As I mentioned, this isn’t a chapter about speed reading. There are entire books about the subject and I don’t want to do it a disservice. It’s a chapter about better and more effective reading, and that’s where we will move next.

Efficient Reading

This technique applies mostly to books, but also to longer articles and even blog posts.

The underlying idea is most of these books and articles tend to only have one or two big, relevant ideas, tops. Obviously this differs between topics, but there is generally a good reason most of these sources have a “conclusion” section which summarizes all of their findings.

The rest is usually case studies, anecdotes, speculation, or digressions. This is especially true with non-fiction books, as they can typically be summed up in one page if not for the multitude of case studies, examples, different ways of restating a single concept, and evidence and proof for the assertion. What do we do with this knowledge?

We can use it to read extremely efficiently. Your job with reading is to find those one or two big, shiny ideas and try to cut out the rest of the clutter. This means you don’t actually need to read a book or article from beginning to end. In fact, that would be a mistake and waste of time.

Note this technique works better for longer pieces since you don’t generally need to read shorter pieces more efficiently ? they’re short!

There are three steps to this technique, and I’ll illustrate it with a book example.

The first step is to spend three minutes simply skimming the book’s front and back covers, the table of contents, and summary of the book. Think of this as pre-reading the book, and in fact, you just might be able to get everything out of the book in this step. Many books make their big ideas known up front. If you have time, then you might analyze the introduction or first chapter a bit because the big idea might be there, as well.

The second step is to spend roughly seven minutes skimming the book again, but in more depth. This is when you read the two paragraphs of each chapter to find the big ideas of each chapter, and the big pieces of evidence that support the big ideas. If you see a story or anecdote coming, that’s a cue to skip ahead because they are usually only for illustration. During this step, you will also make note of sections to read in more detail in the next step.

The third step is to spend twenty minutes reading specific sections of the book in greater detail. You should know the big ideas from the book already, and you are now looking for clarification and what each chapter adds to the big ideas. Review the highlighted portions from the previous step and read them in greater detail. Then, finish this step by synthesizing what you’ve read and summarize it in five main bullet points, with three bullet points under each ? tops.

Some people like to add to the fourth step of reading the first sentence of each paragraph in each chapter, but it is mostly unnecessary to your goal, which is to find the one or two big ideas! At this point, you should have a very clear idea of what’s contained in the book, and it only took you thirty minutes. If you lack clarity about a certain concept, then you know exactly where to read it straight from the source.

Retain More

Retaining more of what you read is easier than people think. The problem is that most people see reading as a fairly passive activity. As in, they can just sit back and read, and somehow the information will stick in their memory banks.

That’s not quite how it works, and for better memory retention and comprehension, you need to make reading a proactive task. The best type of reading is when you read with a purpose because that will keep you focused and alert as to the information in front of you.

Reading with a purpose also turns you into an asker of questions, which is paramount. After every chapter, page, or even long paragraph, there are a series of questions you can be asking yourself to make sense of the information, and make more connections in a participatory manner.

For example, you might ask:

  • How does this point relate to the chapter or book in general?
  • What did I just learn?
  • Why does this matter?
  • What are the shortcomings of this?
  • What is the counter-argument of this?
  • What was necessary for this to occur?
  • What is a one-sentence summary of what I just read?

If you are able to actively process these thoughts even occasionally throughout your reading, you will retain far more because the information isn’t just a set of facts anymore. They have created a series of connections that you have justification and context on. It’s the difference between hearing a bunch of musical notes and hearing an orchestra play together. It creates a bigger impact on your memory because they now have meaning to you through the analyzing questions.

One of the best ways to synthesize and retain information better is to try to predict what happens next, or what happens as a consequence of what you’ve just read. When you can pull enough information together to make an informed guess, it requires a level of thought and understanding that goes far beyond passive reading.

For example, imagine the kind of thought process you would need if you were to do this with a movie. You would need to think about the hints that were shown, the motivations and thought processes of the characters, what might typically happen in a similar movie, and why the previous scene influenced you. You could probably list all of these things if asked about the movie prediction, which shows that you are engaged and invested. We can do similar things when we learn. You don’t have to make a correct or even good prediction, the important part is to think about what you’ve seen, try to create patterns, and analyze them.

Finally, to retain more when you read, start from the end. Don’t read backwards, but read and review in a different order than how you initially consumed the information. For a book, start from the final points of the last chapter and work your way to the introduction. For an article or study, work your way from the conclusion back to the introduction. What’s the point of this?

When you continually read something in the same order, you’re creating tread marks in the mud. In other words, you are solidifying information, but only in that specific order and context. You might only retain and remember something if you read or remember what was immediately before or after it.

It’s similar to listening to a song playlist in the same order, over and over. Eventually it all melds into one long song, and you can remember and predict the next song based on the current song. But, out of that order and context, you might not be able to remember or think of it.

When you read out of order and generally approach information from different contexts and angles, you dramatically increase the retention rate, because it’s suddenly a three-dimensional picture instead of a flat set of facts.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *