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6 mins

How to Read Faster – The Top 7 Tips

Are you ready to turbocharge your reading speed? Unlock the power of speed reading and transform the way you consume information. Learn Abby Marks Beale's innovative strategies and top 7 tips to make every reading minute count.
by Chris Allmer | Jul 31 2023

Ever felt the pang of “so many books, so little time”? You’re not alone. In our information-saturated world, learning how to read faster can be a complete game-changer. From broadening your horizons to staying updated with the latest trends, speed reading can make a profound difference. 

Thanks to Abby Marks Beale, a renowned reading ambassador and bestselling author, we now have a guide to turbocharging your reading speed and efficiency.

What Is Speed Reading?

Speed reading isn’t merely about gulping down words per minute. It’s an art. It’s about fostering confidence, honing intentionality, and harnessing your focus. Just like an athlete prepares before a race, speed reading involves breaking free from ingrained habits and embracing innovative techniques to optimize reading efficiency and information retention.

Before you dive headfirst into a book, adopt a reflective stance. Question your motives behind selecting a text. By eliminating unnecessary material that often diverts your attention, you can dramatically elevate your reading speed and efficiency.

For instance, Beale’s acclaimed book “10 Days to Faster Reading” offers insightful strategies to master the art of speed reading. The book’s core tenet is simple yet powerful: reading is not just a passive activity but a dynamic interaction between the reader and the text. 

“Speed reading is not just a skill, it’s a thought process which begins before you even look at a page.”
Abby Marks Beale

Moreover, the importance of creating a distraction-free environment for reading cannot be overstated. A tranquil corner, away from the persistent humdrum of daily life, can become your personal haven for focus and concentration.

Reading Faster Begins Before You Start Reading 

Be selective and tune into your intention 

Before you pull a book from a shelf or open a journal article, ask yourself: why am I reading this? Why do I need this information? This pause for thought will hopefully help you cull all the unnecessary material you would have otherwise flicked through absentmindedly. 

Don’t get too comfortable

If you need to focus, approach your reading with your ‘work mode’ hat on. Snuggling into bed with a cup of tea and a highlighter pack precariously balanced on your knee won’t do. Your speed reading environment needs to be a chamber of concentration: sit in a quiet space away from distractions. Go to a library or an area away from your office desk, so you don’t risk being interrupted by emails and colleagues and phone calls.

Preview information 

When you have a long, boring document to read, tackle it with a bit of preparation. Break the beast down: 

Read chapter titles, subheadings, and then the first line of each paragraph. 

This will give you a great overview, so you can sift through the important sections from the irrelevant parts and make informed decisions about what you should spend your time reading. Previewing and preparation extract a massive 40 percent of the key information in the material, much of the rest is just padding and illustration. Practice pre-viewing, and you’ll start to instantly filter out unnecessary text and read documents and books faster. Speed reading is not just a skill, it’s a thought process that begins before you even look at a page.

Here are Mark Beale’s 7 Tips to Read Faster

1. Focus on keywords

You don’t need to read the whole sentence to understand the meaning. Keywords are typically more than three letters long, and they hold all the information you need. For instance, ‘The rabbit nibbled on his carrot.’ 

Try the indenting method. Train your peripheral vision with this popular technique for reading faster. Focus your gaze on the middle section of the sentence, roughly half an inch from the beginning and end of a line. At first, this may seem very unnatural, so you can add some stabilizers by drawing a couple of pencil lines down the page as guides. You will start to feel your gaze absorb the entire phrase, even though your eyes are focusing on the middle chunk of words in the sentence. 

2. Stop subvocalizing

Subvocalizing is when you unintentionally speak aloud and mumble the words you’re reading. It really slows your reading down because the thought is faster than the word. To overcome subvocalizing, chew gum or hum along as you read. The rhythm of these actions will push your pace of reading on and stop you from forming every word into a sound. 

3. Use your finger as a guide

Our eyes are naturally drawn to movement, so your gaze will chase your finger along the page. Run your finger at a quick pace in a zigzag formation. This will prevent you from subvocalizing every word and make you read faster. 

4. Try the magic white card trick

At school, you may have been taught to place a white card under the line you are reading. This method is good for children who need to go back and check new vocabulary. By covering up the sentences to come, you are effectively building a wall in your path and slowing yourself down. Competent adult readers should have the confidence that they don’t need to check every other word twice. Make the simple adjustment of placing the white card above the line you are reading, covering the sentences just read. This eliminates regression and encourages confidence, pushing you forward down the page. 

5. Speed demands focus

When you walk, you have time to chat, daydream, and write a text message. All of these extra actions split your attention. Running, however, demands that you drop all distractions. Speed-reading is like running: pushing yourself to go faster increases focus and encourages you to trust yourself more. 

How to Read Fast and Retain Information

6. Make notes

We’ve all been told a million times at school, but in the working world, it’s easy to forget to pick up your pen. Here’s a classic situation: it’s the first day of your new job, and the HR manager hands you a 150-page health and safety manual to read. You want to get through it quickly to impress, but it’s long and boring, and the first day nerves are distracting your concentration. Use the speed-reading techniques outlined above and jot down a few notes so you have something to say when grilled about the company’s fire drill procedure. 

And another tip: “Unlimited Memory” by Kevin Horsley explains memory techniques that will help you remember and retain any information you want to. These Blinks will show you how to organize and store information in your mind so that you’ll never forget it.

“Learning is not a destination, it is a continuous process.”
Kevin Horsley

7. Breaks bring focus

Studies show that people concentrate at their optimum for twenty minutes at a time. So to successfully speed-read and retain all important material, you should have short ten-minute breaks every twenty to thirty minutes of focused work. 

And you need to focus! “Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done” by Jocelyn K. Glei can help you to declutter your digital life. Glei explores the modern epidemic of email anxiety and offers practical strategies to manage your inbox effectively.

For more speed-reading strategies, try Abby Marks Beale’s “10 Days to Faster Reading” and read faster now! And when you are done, browse through Blinkist’s Library to find a wealth of informative Guides and time-saving 15-minute summaries. Grab this opportunity to enhance your knowledge, broaden your horizons, and empower your journey of self-improvement!

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