2 Simple Smart Reading Techniques. How to Improve your Reading Focus, Speed, and Comprehension.
If you want to improve your focus, your speed, your comprehension (or all three), use these 2 simple Smart Reading tools (Your Eyes and Your Hands). Although reading is a visual process (using eyes only), but when used properly, your hands and other tools can be extremely helpful for enhancing your focus and overall engagement.
1) Using Your Eyes Mindfully – Train your Eyes for Faster Rhythmic Movement
On average, when you read, your eyes jump approximately four times per second. This is similar to the typewriter action. But if you read more than 500 WPM, you’ll see that your eye movements are much smoother and more fluid, not like typewirtter action.
Eye Movement Terms You Should Understand
When reading, your eyes stop approximately 4x per second to register information into your brain. Each stop is called a fixation. So while you’re reading, information is entering through your eyes 4x per second. This is just how eye muscles work, a biological process, thus you can’t really influence how often your eyes stop. What you can influence is how many words you let in at each stop (eye span).
b) Eye Span
Your eye span is the width of text that your eyes take in every time your eyes stop. Many people read with the narrowest possible eye span: 1 word per stop. If you read 1 word per fixation, that’s mean 4 words per second or 240 words per minute, which is below average reading speed! The secret of increasing reading speed is simply to widen your eye span and take in more words at each stop. Widening your eye span is quite easy to do with a little training of the eye muscles.
Train your eye muscle with this “eye bounce” exercise:
Look straight ahead. Without moving your head, look as far to your left as you can. Then look as far to your right as possible. Then go back and forth on a level plane with your eyes 5x as fast as you can. If you feel dizzy or hurt your eyes, it means you have poorly trained, weak eye muscles.
To get your eyes to move in a more rhythmic manner, you need to be able to feel your eyes kind of bouncing along the page smoothly.
To train your eyes for rhythmic movement, read a full page of article using your “eye bounce” exercise a couple of times a day. Don’t worry about comprehension because the purpose of the exercise is simply to train your eyes to move rhythmically. And time yourself. If it took you longer than one minute, try to get it below a minute until under 15 second. At that rate, your eyes would be moving at a 1,000+ WPM pace.
2) Using Your Hands Properly
Using a hand makes reading more physically engaging as it direct movement on the page you are reading. This should enhance your reading focus and help your eyes move more rhythmically and quickly.
a) ‘Index Finger’ Pull Technique
You use either your right or left index finger for this. As you’re reading, you pull your index finger vertically down the page at a consistent pace (that is just slightly faster than your eyes can keep up with), with no stopping and no going back up the page.
If you want to really engage your body, you use both your right and left pointers at the same time, going down both right and left margins. That is called Double Pointer Pull.
b) Pace Card Technique
The pace card technique is obviously the most popular technique used in many speed reading workshop. Because this technique immediately boosts reading speed and focus in over 90 percent of participants. People can triple, even quadruple their reading speed with just the pace card technique, practiced over a few weeks.
To use it, all you need is a piece of paper that you are be able to hold it easily with one hand. It may be a 3″ by 5″ index card, or even a blank piece of paper folded in half.
Place your pace card above the line you’re reading. Remember, ‘above’ the line. You may say, ‘But I can’t see what I just read’. Precisely. The main purpose of pace card technique is to eliminate the possibility of regression, by cutting off your escape route. You force your subconscious mind to pay attention, because it only has one chance reading. As you’re reading, just start moving the card down the page at a comfortable and steady pace. Ideally the card doesn’t stop as the pace card keeps your eyes moving forward. Importantly, it definitely doesn’t allow you to go back up.
Keep using your eyes and your hand (index finger or card technique) exercise regularly with everything you read for the next couple of weeks, and you’ll be amazed at how much faster your reading speed and focus. Your reading comprehension will go up as your speed increases too.
After using Smart Reading Techniques mentioned above, it is possible that your reading speed stayed the same, or possibly even decreased. That may happen especially when it is your first time you’re doing this. New learner sometimes preoccupied with “Am I doing it right?” versus “just doing it”. If that’s the case, relax and keep practicing until you find what works for you.