National Reading Month is a great time to reflect on your reading habits. Try these speed reading exercises to help you on your way:
- Skim with Purpose, Review your Understanding. Want to assess your speed reading ability? Start a timer, and then pick a chapter in a book and read it normally. Jot down the chapter’s top 3-5 key points once you finish. Stop the timer and record the time. Next, repeat the process with a different chapter in the same book, but this time, try to speed read or skim the material instead.Were you still able to absorb 3-5 meaningful points? How much time did you save? Did you enjoy it, or did you just feel rushed? Keep repeating this process until you find the right balance between time and insight.
- Practice Variable Reading. Too often, people try to speed read at the same pace throughout a book or article. They find the approach doesn’t always maximize the benefits. When you first start reading a book or article, notice the author’s structure and rhythm. Use those patterns to pace your reading.Is the key point always at the start of the section? At the end? Are stories used to build to the point? By learning the author’s style, you can also learn where in the text you should slow down and focus, or where you can likely skim without losing context.
- Know Your Favored Form. Today, most of the best business and management books are available in both print (paper) and electronic (digital) form. Know which one you read fastest and absorb the best. Can you skim paper more easily, perhaps writing notes or marking the page with a highlighter? Or do you like the ease of a tablet or phone to navigate electronically anytime and anyplace? Not sure? Try reading the same book both ways, noticing how well you navigate the material and at what speed.
Finally, the best speed readers build their skills over time. Set goals for how many articles or books you will read per month. And, establish a strategy for identifying your reading material, so you will choose high quality pieces that offer the tools you need, or the pleasure you seek.