Introduction: Make a choice, stick to it, pace yourself!
Every day we are confronted with many decisions. With most decisions, there are many choices so we have to choose. We do not always have all the background information so we have to do the best we can. The worst thing anyone can do is to waste too much time on fact-finding, and delay the important step of deciding – make a choice, stick to it, and pace yourself. I have mentioned it several times that I am learning to speed read the right way, but what does that mean?
I have speed reading software on my computer, I have the PhotoReading course from Learning Strategies, speed reading books (I recommend BrainRead – my review), and speed reading bookmarklets (also known as browser extensions and RSVPs – rapid serial visual presentations). I decided that each day I would choose a short story from American Literature, and use RSVPs to speed read it.
I have Eyercize, Squirt, Spreed (for Chrome), and AccelaReader on my browser toolbar. From what I have read about speed reading, the more you pass through the information, the higher the probability you will remember what you read. And each of these RSVPs works differently. So for instance, Squirt flashes one word at a time, and one of the letters in the word is highlighted.
The intention is for you to focus on the letter and build your peripheral vision. Eyercize has groups of words highlighted, and depending on the number of fixations you choose, it moves you through each line. If you set it at three fixations and three words at a time, Eyercize reorganizes each line so you read three blocks of words a line.
For each short story, using my RSVPs of choice, I pass through the story four times, in four different ways. I made the choice to learn to speed read that way. I also said that in the end, I would like to read 1,000 words per minute with a 95 percent level of comprehension. Please read How habits are formed. I started thinking that perhaps I needed to invest more time into speed reading since reading through a lot of information is so vital to the work that I do. I came up with the novel idea to once again participate in Iris Reading’s One Book, One Day Challenge, which was designed to use speed reading techniques to read a book a day for 30 days.
Guess what happened? I abandoned the idea after six days. Why? It was too much, I wasn’t pacing myself. What I learned? Doing more doesn’t necessarily get you to your goal faster – make a choice, stick to it, and pace yourself. I am on Day 41 of my speed reading drills, but on Day 33, I realized that I was no longer subvocalizing, which is a huge achievement. I cannot say exactly when it happened, but on Day 33 I became aware of the achievement.
Now I am starting to read bits and pieces of text by sight, but I am not quite there yet. With my small win of not subvocalizing, I continue my speed reading drills. When I have mastered speed reading using RSVPs, I will graduate to the other resources that I own.
What’s the implication for you? You may not have any interest in speed reading, but every day you are confronted with choices. Learn from my experience, make a choice, stick to it, and pace yourself.