This entry opens one more category of this blog – personal development ideas. Yes, these are the very same personal development ideas which gave the name to this website. And while many of such ideas have been implied and even mentioned in some of my previous posts, it was always the plan to finally have a category like this, so that readers and visitors could quickly review the ideas I personally find worth working on.
Personal Development Idea: Quick And Effective Reading
Quick And Effective Reading is a series of 5 posts which will be posted here on GreysPK every Monday. My goal is to provide you with the results of my research of the subject to make the task of improving your speed reading skills slightly easier.
Idea statement: Learn how to read books, magazines and online articles in a quick and effective way. This means aiming at not only the speed, but also the quality of reading – making sure you enjoy the time spent reading a book and remember as much information as possible.
Justification: I find quick reading (sometimes referred to as speed reading) to be one of the most essential skills you can obtain nowadays. With the number of information resources growing exponentially on a daily basis, it is absolutely vital to be able to absorb information quickly and effectively.
In our modern society, we face information overload everywhere. At work, we have to process hundreds of emails daily; not only we are supposed to maintain email conversations, but we also have to browse tens of webpages and go through many presentations. At home, we’re reading daily newspapers and occasional magazines; we’re also buying and reading books, used for education, entertainment or just as a casual reference. While audiobooks sales are definitely picking up in the last few years, they’re still nowhere near the popularity of paper books and ebooks, and this means that the demand for a skill of quick reading is definitely going to be around for some time.
Expected outcome: It is believed that the average reading speed for most of us lies in the range of 200-250 words per minute (250wpm). While there are people who read much slower than that, it is also a well-know fact that it’s possible to train yourself up to a level where you can read 600, 800 or even 1000wpm. It is, of course, important to maintain a healthy level of comprehension – after all, you want to remember most of what you’re reading, at least for the time of reading a given book or an article.
Additional Info: TurboRead website has a very useful table of reading speed interpretation.
What you can expect from commiting to a quick reading idea:
- greatly improved speed of reading
- comprehension improvements
- ability to organize and quickly access the most important information from the books/articles you’ve read
My personal reasons for improving my quick reading skills
I’m always reading with pleasure. Being a quite ordinary person from the quick reading point of view, I enjoy reading at an average speed of 275wpm. Unfortunatelly, most books/materials I read are technical. And this means they’re more about diagrams and charts, tables of numerical data and short paragraphs of text.
I’ve always found time to read a particular book if I really liked it, but quite often I had to drop reading it half-way simply because my progress was too slow and my disappointment about the speed of reading grew too quick.
This led me to finally discover the following few principles of quick and effective reading:
- Genuine interest in the subject
It really helps if what you’re reading is a subject interesting enough for you. I rarely dropped a technical book half-way, simply because if I bought or borrowed a book of this kind, I would probably have a pretty good idea of the subject and would simply be interested in expanding my knowledge of it.With fiction books, it’s not always that you know exactly what the books is about and whether its subject is going to be interesting for you.Quite often you have to be able to pick the book up, quickly glance through few pages and get a rough idea of whether you’re interested or not. When you’re reading slower, it’s easier to lose your interest.The more interested you are in a book, the more commited you’re going to be. If it’s a great book or if you simply have a great interest in it, you will be progressing fairly quickly even if your reading speed isn’t great. You’ll stay focused, you’ll spend more time reading – but you will be making progress.
- Paying attention
For people like me, it’s very hard to concentrate on something unless I’m really occupied. I have to be reading fast enough to always get new information to think about, and this will keep me engaged and help me stay focused. With technical books, it’s easier because I know what I’m reading about and it’s easier for me to see the progress. Each line could be so technical, meaningful and useful, that it will be more than enough to keep my mind occupied.Going through equations, command lines or regular expressions, sometimes you have to read the same line few times all over again, before your brain finally catches up and singals you that it’s okay to continue the reading.With fiction, it’s harder to pay attention because many books use such a style that it takes few lines and quite often whole paragraphs and pages to bring a thought or two across, and this means that if I don’t read through them quickly enough, my mind will be idling and it’s a quite annoying feeling. I’m easily getting bored.
So, if you’re paying attention to the book, it will be easier for you to read. Your speed of reading will be higher as well, simply because you’ll keep more details on the subject in your mind if you’re paying attention. Paying attention will make sure you don’t let any details get out of your focus, so they’ll be there for your consideration right when you need them. For many pieces of intormation, you will simply have some ideas at hand, rather than having to go back few pages to read a paragraph or two once more to refresh your mind.
- Knowing the outcomes
For any kind of information resource, you need to have a set of outcomes you expect from your reading. Having a list of such outcomes, it’s easier to maintain a focus because you can always take few seconds to review the outcomes and compare your progress against the plan.When you’re busy studying, it’s easier to know your outcomes, because often they’re already lined out for you right there in the book.Lots of learning materials come with ont only the thorough list of contents and index, but also have some useful points of focus at the end of each chapter, so you can read then and simply follow the instructions to make sure you remember most of the chapter correctly.
With technical documentation, it’s even easier, cause you’re usually looking for some kind of answer. When I’m thinking of buying a new technical book on a certain subject, I usually know what this subject is, and have a short list of most interesting questions – the ones I would really like to know answers for. I don’t even have to write this list down, I just know that I’ll be intuitively aligning all the reading process against this list, automatically concentrating on the most relevant parts of the book.
With fiction books, it’s also important to know the outcomes. Sometimes you’ll be reading to pass some time – that’s a valid outcome. Or you will be trying to expand your knowledge about some country, coulture or science.It is always important to have at least a few of such outcomes at hand – cause no matter how vague they seem, they’ll be the ones helping you stay focused as you read.
My reasons for improving the speed of reading:
- being able to consume more information in the same or even shorter time
- improve my ability to quickly assess a certain book or article and decide if I want to read it in full or not
- shift the most of my reading focus from the reading technique to the book subject to improve the comprehension
As I said, I will be concentrating on the quick and effective reading idea for the next few weeks, so I will be updating you on my progress and findings along the way, and hopefull we’ll have a quick reference for anything to read and easily improve reading skills. Next post of this series is going to be posted on Monday, June 12th, 2006.