I have said it time after time and will probably continue to say it for years to come, in order to become the best version of yourself, you have to read a lot of books. Sounds boring right? The thing is that books contain an immense amount of information gathered by some of the best people in their fields, sometimes over the course of a lifetime. We the readers are able to consume this information in just a couple of days or hours.
Imagine a person that has read 5 books his entire life and one that has read 200 books. Which one do you think is going to succeed? Which one has a ton of references and knows which opportunities to look for? I hope that you chose the second one.
A lot of the most successful people in the world are voracious readers and attribute their success to reading and continuing to learn new skills and knowledge long after their graduation. I have set this as a goal for myself and hope to get you on the team of lifelong learning as well.
So how can we train ourselves to read faster in order to read more books every year?
Start by determining your starting reading speed
First of all you are going to need a book, preferably one with approximately the same amount of words per page (for example a normal fiction book). Start by counting the number of words in the first 5 lines and then divide that number by 5 so that you get the average number of words per line.
Next, count the number of lines on 5 pages and divide that number by 5 to get the average number of lines per page.
You are now ready to start reading. I recommend that you read for about 5 or 10 minutes. Focus on reading at a comfortable speed where you have full comprehension the entire time that you are reading. Use a timer on your phone to make sure that you stop immediately when the time is up, Make a mark on the page at the word where you stopped.
Now you count all the full pages that you have read, multiply the page count by the average number of lines per page. You now have the amount of lines that you have read. Add the number of lines that you have read on the page that you stopped and multiply that total by the average number of words per line.
You now have the total amount of words that you have read in that session, add the last few words from the last line where you stopped reading and divide the total by the number of minutes that you read.
You now have your benchmark WPM (Words Per Minute). This is the metric that we want to start improving. Keep checking this at regular intervals with full comprehension so that you can see your improvements over time.
The NUMBER 1 hack that can dramatically improve your reading speed
When you are at school you learn to read by reading out loud, and the teachers asked you to read out loud inside your head. This act of saying all of the words inside your head is called sub vocalizing and it is killing you reading speed potential.
It is a fantastic tool when you are first starting to learn how to read, but over time it becomes an obstacle for the very reason that you are speaking a lot slower than you are able to read. I struggled a lot when I first got started trying to get rid of this habit but it almost doubled my reading speed when I got the hang of it.
Just think about it, do you actually read the billboards and road signs or do you just glace at the writing and take in the information? Most likely you are probably doing this with many things in your life, you look at the text and then you just know what it says.
The fantastic thing is that when you stop sub vocalizing, you no longer have to read one word at the time and repeat it in your head. You will most likely be able to read three or four words at the time. Our brain is an amazing thing that can take that chunk of a few words at a time and process it so that you still have close to full comprehension. Now that’s amazing!
On spreeder.com you can use their free software to train yourself to read faster. They also have a paid speed reading course that you can take online, but I have not yet tried this so I will not recommend it before I have tried it. If you have tried it and liked it, please let me know in the comments section or by sending me a mail in the contact menu.
With Spreeder the text of your choice (copy and paste) will flash on the screen one word at the time at the WPM speed that you set it to. I like to set it to flash in two or three word chunks and make sure that it is faster than my inner voice can keep up with.
I think it is a fantastic tool that I use often. Many times I use it when I am reading articles; I just paste it in to Spreeder and set the reading speed high. This enables me to consume most of the information in record time, although some of my comprehension is still lost in some of the higher reading speeds.
The rest is up to you
Like most other things in life, practice makes perfect. Make it one of your goals to read every single day, focus on having full comprehension and challenge yourself by increasing your reading speed a little every day.
After a couple of weeks or a month, recheck your reading speed and compare it to the benchmark speed and let me know how you did.
Great books on speed reading
Accelerated Learning: 10 Powerful Ways to Unleash Your Power & Out-Perform ANYONE: Become An Expert In Your Field, Learn Any Skill or Subject, Increase … Accelerated Learning, Learning Techniques) (Amazon)