10 Tips to improve your reading

10 Tips to improve your reading speed and comprehension

Speed reading is a great skill which helps you read at a fluid pace and understand text at high speed, making it an invaluable and worthwhile skill to develop. A worthwhile skill which can help you in education, business or with reading for pleasure.

Here are some tips to help you get started on improving your reading speed.

Read early in the day

As with any skill, improving your reading speed takes practice and early mornings are a great time of the day to practice on improving your reading and concentration. Scheduling the time to practice helps make it easier to commit to. Improving your reading efficiency and ability to comprehend information is a great professional and personal skill - so it is worth making the time to practice.

Skim material first

Look through the material briefly and scan the outline of the content to get an idea of what's interesting and important to you, and also what areas you might be able to skip and which parts to perhaps read more carefully. Skimming material works particularly well with informative material and resources such as textbooks and non-fiction. Scan the table of contents and key headers to warm your reading mind up to the content ahead. Your reading speed and comprehension will improve if you understand the structure of the material first.

Create questions

Improve your reading comprehension and processing of useful information by creating questions from headings and subheadings in the material. Then speed read to find the answers. This will sharpen your ability to scan the text for answers and discriminate against useless information; improving your reading speed as you become focused on your material.

Set the reading environment

Your physical posture and environment will influence your ability to take in information. If you are feeling negative and unwell, it may well affect your reading so it makes sense to set up the conditions to give you best positive reading environment. Where possible, read or study in natural daylight. When reading with artificial light, try and have the light source come from over your shoulder. For comfort, prop up your book so that you reduce eyestrain. A good break is great as a way to unwind and relax, but avoid reading difficult material in bed or material which requires detailed comprehension and processing, as your mind and body tend to relax. Where possible, read this material at a desk.

Take notes

Keep a notebook nearby to jot down thoughts and brief notes to help your process your reading. This will help avoid any re-reading later and also helps develop your ability to process the 'nuggets from the noise'.

Do NOT highlight

Highlighting works for drawing attention to certain areas of what you have read but they actually distract your reading progress. The goal of improving your reading efficiency is to be able to read fluidly and comprehend the information and develop your ability to process useful information. Highlighting encourages (and assumes) you to read the material again. To improve your reading effectiveness and efficiency, avoid highlighting and use notes (see above).

Adapt your reading speed

Adjust your reading speed to the material and purpose. Immersive reading and materials which require detailed understanding and deep comprehension such as contracts are a few examples of where you may want to read at a slower pace. Dry and information-based material such as newspapers, magazines and websites where the purpose is to extract information and understanding may be better suited for speed reading.

Practice

The more you read, the better a reader you will become. You will soon find that practice will really boost your reading effectiveness and efficiency boost. Don't forget to pace yourself. Acquiring any worthwhile skill can take time and it is better that you take frequent breaks with regular practice.

A quote from Bruce Lee on the discipline of practice:

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.

Enjoy it

Enjoying what you read is a great way to develop your skills faster and naturally, the more you enjoy it the more you will do it.

Chart your progress

Tracking your progress is a great motivator to keep you writing. Periodically taking a test to calculate your reading speed can help you track your developments and help you see just how rewarding an improved reading speed can be.