Developing a Sense of Urgency When Reading

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No more dawdling while reading!

Years of reading at your own pace may have created in you some habits that prevent you from reading at full speed.

You may wander around the text, become distracted by the surroundings, or passively follow words without being conscious about it. Very likely, you are reading the book waiting for the book to reveal to you the message, instead of inquiring yourself for it.

The result: your reading speed decreases because you take your time on reading the words, and because you have to perform regressions to re-read the previous text. Additionally, your ability to focus also decreases because  your mind is only partially engaged in the reading.

By being uncommitted to the reading and over relaxed you allow your mind to systematically decrease your reading speed. Furthermore, your focus misses an opportunity to be trained. And that is how a person loses his abilities as he ages (is not the age, it is the lack of challenge!).

The Technique

How to avoid this lack of focus when reading? By developing in you a sense of urgency when reading.

The key point is reading aggressively asking questions and demanding answers. This means that while you are reading you should push yourself to:

  1. Read more quickly. Finish the text as soon as possible.
  2. Understand quickly what you are reading.
  3. Figure out what the author’s point is at that point of the text. Ask yourself while reading some of the following questions:
    1.  What does the author want us to understand?
    2. What does he means with this sentence?
    3. Why is he explaining this to me now?

When you push your brain to go faster and at the same time you ask yourself what the point of the author is, the brain does not have time to wander because it needs all the brain resources to stay on track. As a result, you will be training your reading speed but also your focus. Only by pushing yourself, will you be able to increase both speed and focus, so keep this attitude of urgency for anything you read from now on.

The Workout

In order to train the development of urgency perform one of the following workouts every week day. The goal of each workout is to read a text and answer the questions in the amount of time allocated. You must be able to complete the lecture and the answering within that time limit. For that purpose, push yourself to read faster and to understand what you are reading. You will need all your concentration for it, so perform the exercises in a quiet place. From Monday to Friday perform one of the workouts below, and just after that, select a long text of your choice and read it practising the sense of urgency. If you have already done the 10 minutes to double your reading speed workouts, then reduce your allowed time by half. Before starting any of the workouts, find a timer to control your reading time. Do not watch or read the text before starting the test.

Workout – 1 : Monday

  1. Go to this page, read the text and answer the questions, all within 60 seconds.
  2. Then read any text of your selection for 10 minutes while practising the sense of urgency.

Workout – 2 : Tuesday

  1. Go to this page, read the text and answer the questions, all within 90 seconds.
  2. Then read any text of your selection for 10 minutes while practising the sense of urgency.

Workout – 3 : Wednesday

  1. Go to this page, read the text and answer the questions, all within 40 seconds.
  2. Then read any text of your selection for 10 minutes while practising the sense of urgency.

Workout – 4 : Thursday

  1. Go to this page, read the text and answer the questions, all within 40 seconds.
  2. Then read any text of your selection for 10 minutes while practising the sense of urgency.

Workout – 5 : Friday

  1. Go to this page, read the text and answer the questions, all within 40 seconds.
  2. Then read any text of your selection for 10 minutes while practising the sense of urgency.

 The extra workout

On Saturday, perform the following workout. This workout is also mandatory. Basically consists of having a computer program pace your speed and make it push you in your reading speed.

  • Select a text of about 10,000 words in your computer. It should be plain text, with no drawings or figures, that goes from side to side of the page. Select an easy subject to read and understand. It also has to be interesting for you. A good example may be a novel.
  • Visit Spreeder website. There you will find a box where you can paste your selected text. Paste it there.
  • You will be redirected to a page with a player interface where you can set the reading settings and start reading.
  • If you press the play button, then you can start reading your text at 300 words per minute (WPM).
  • Press it and read a few lines. If you feel comfortable increase the speed of the player by pressing the Settings button, and then writing down the new speed value on the words per minute box.
  • You should always put a value of WPM that is lightly higher than the speed you feel comfortable.
  • Now try again to read with the new speed. If still not the correct one, apply as many times necessary the adjustment phase.
  • Once you choose the correct speed for you, complete the whole text at that speed, without doing any pause.
  • If you miss some words or sentences, do not worry. Just keep reading.

After the whole training week you should have a taste of what a sense of urgency while reading is. Try to read always having this urgency and you will progressively increase your reading speed.

You can improve your reading speed a lot, yet! Keep training, keep practising!

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