In the eighteenth chapter of his work on productivity What’s Best Next (Zondervan, 2014), author Matt Perman includes a little box with the heading “How to Read Really Fast.” It ties in to this chapter titled “Harnessing the Time Killers.”
Now, I rarely consider reading a “time killer,” but I can conceive of too much reading getting in the way of other things that one ought to get done (ever had that really good book that you just couldn’t put down and so you put everything else down, even really important responsibilities?!). This is one of those instances when it may pay to know how to read really fast and save yourself some time – time for the best things!
And so we may pay attention to what Perman has to say in this “side box”:
I don’t know if speed reading is literally possible. But I do know that it’s possible to read really fast.
There are three keys to reading really fast:
- Purpose. Determine your purpose in reading the material. This allows your mind to focus on the most relevant information and filter out the less essential things.
- Preview. Preview the material through a quick scan before you do your main read. This gives you a framework for understanding it, thus enabling you to comprehend the material more quickly the next time you go through it.
- Pointer. Use your finger or a pen as a pacer to keep your speed up. I don’t particularly enjoy this, and so I don’t always do it; but if you notice your pace lagging, this helps you get it back up.
Some people say, ‘I want to savor what I’m reading.’ Not a problem. First, I find that reading fast and savoring what I’m learning are not mutually exclusive. Sometimes the most enjoyable thing to do is read fast. But, second, go ahead and slow down at the parts you want to savor. I wouldn’t speed-read poetry, for example. Know when to read fast, and know when to read slow (244).