Rapid Reading Tips: Save time by learning to read faster


Whether it is books, online articles, emails, Facebook posts, or even the smallest things like Tweets, most people read a crazy amount of words each day without even thinking about it. Wouldn’t be great to read and comprehend faster?

Everyone, especially freelancers, has a lot to read and go through on a daily basis.

This includes communicating with clients or reading useful articles (like the one you’re seeing right now).

Consuming new information probably takes up a lot of your day.

Some estimates suggest that in a job environment, a person spends about two hours a day reading. That’s a quarter of your standard workday!

The number one thing any freelancer should strive for is efficiently managing their time. What better place to start than the one thing you do each day?

So check out these tips on rapid reading (also called speed reading). You will see how speeding up your reading can save you tons of time!

Tips on how to read better and faster

1. Have a plan and a goal in mind for long texts

This first tip isn’t about reading a paragraph – it’s for those times when you need to read multiple pages of text at a time.

For such work, planning in advance is the best way to extract the information you want in the least amount of time.

When faced with such a task, begin by asking yourself “What do I want to get out of this?”.

If you can identify one or two important pieces of information you’re looking to extract from the text, write them down.

Look at the content page of the material you’re about to read and identify the most important sections.

Start by reading the introduction and then the conclusion – this might point you to the right place or let you know that the text isn’t what you’re looking for after all. Then start reading the parts you feel are important – if you can answer the questions once you’re done, that’s enough.

2. Consciously start skim-reading less important parts

This way of thinking can also be applied to much shorter texts. You are probably aware of which parts are interesting and which aren’t.

Say, for example, that you have a client who always takes some time to get to the point and ends up writing annoyingly long emails. Adapt to that style of writing by reading over the introduction more quickly than you would otherwise.

Skimming is usually enough to see if the information is really important – and will save you a bunch of time on top. You skip over parts of text anyway. But the real tip here is to consciously start doing it, to be aware of yourself intentionally skimming bits of text.

3. Stop constantly reading “aloud” in your head

When you learn to read, you start out by reading the words aloud in your head. In fact, if you stop to think about how you’re reading this text right now, you might realize that you’re still doing the very same thing. Reading out the words out loud is called “subvocalizing”.

Now, subvocalizing is not bad. In fact, if you’re really focusing on a particularly difficult part of a text, it can help you slow down so you really comprehend the meaning that the words are conveying.

However, subvocalizing slows you down. You probably know this from your everyday experience with reading anyway – when you’re engulfed in a book that’s really good, the voice in your head is gone. You want to get ahead with text as fast as you can and you stop subvocalizing. You know how to do that. Just try to get into the habit of doing it more often.

4. Focus and ignore distraction until you’re finished

There’s no worse feeling than coming back to read the same sentence for the fourth time because you keep getting distracted. That’s one of the situations where you can really feel how you’re wasting time by being inefficient with reading.

How do you combat that? Focus.

If you know you have to read an article, ignore that buzzing sound from your phone, put on headphones or earplugs if that helps.

Getting into the mindset for reading will put a stop to those distractions.

5. Complete speed reading exercises

As with any other muscle, you can also train your eyes. Exercising your eye muscles and making them stronger can also help your speed reading.

Here are a couple of exercises to train your eyes:

  • Eye writing – The idea of this exercise is to make you move your eyes in a way you wouldn’t do it regularly. Look straight ahead and write something with your eyes. It can be as short as the name of a day of the week. Play with capital letters, cursive letters, etc.
  • Eye squeeze – This technique will relax your eyes. You have to open your eyes and mouth as much as you can while you inhale deeply. Close and squeeze your eyes as much as you can as you exhale. Try to squeeze all muscles in your face as well as your neck. Then hold your breath for about 30 seconds. Repeat this 5 times.

You can also test your read speed online (for example, here). Use these tests as exercises to improve your comprehension.

6. Use a timer to track reading speed

And finally, if you are really serious about increasing your reading speed, start tracking it.

I know this might sound a bit overzealous, but hear me out. The first point of tracking your time is quite simple – if you know you’re under pressure, you’ll perform better without even realizing it.

Tracking something makes you try harder.

And secondly, reading is a skill like any other. It requires practice. And practice makes you better. So maybe turn that timer on and see how much a page takes you – next time you read a whole page, try to improve on that. It will get better over time.

Do you have any personal quick-reading techniques? We’d love to hear about them! For that and any other feedback, the comment section below this article is the place to go!

Natalia Campana

Natalia is part of the international team at freelancermap. She loves the digital world, social media and meeting different cultures. Before she moved to Germany and joined the freelancermap team she worked in the US, UK and her home country Spain. Now she focuses on helping freelancers and IT professionals to find jobs and clients worldwide at www.freelancermap.com

By Natalia Campana

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