Effective Reading

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Day by day, as a busy schedule consumes more and more of your time, a pile of reading material steadily mounts up. This growing pile may contain, for example:

You may feel increasingly guilty because these remain unread, and that may not be keeping up to date or doing your job properly. Yet even if you could find time to cope, you know that you could not absorb it all.

Reading effectively is an essential skill, and this skill is not simply a question of reading faster. It is important to understand what you decide to read.

Effective reading means assimilating written information quickly yet comprehending the essence of the printed word. It takes a lot of practice, but it reaps its own rewards.

Studies of fast and slow readers have isolated the faults which limit the reading speed of millions of people to 200 words per minute. Some of these factors that contribute to slower reading are:

Some of these factors may be out of our control, but bad habits is one area where slow readers could profitably change out of bottom gear - if only they knew how.

Adopt a positive attitude - you must feel that you want to do better and feel that you can. Don't seek overnight improvement, but do practise regularly.

Above all, accept that you cannot read everything. Constantly remind yourself to be ruthlessly selective. This may mean not being technically up to date in all areas of your business. Ask yourself regularly where it is essential to stay up to date.

Categorising reading matter

Try to sort your daily reading as it arrives: decide what your priorities are and then read. Take notes if necessary and digest the information and ideas. Don't give up - the longer you persevere, the more you benefit.

You should never allow reading material to accumulate but deal with each piece as it arrives. Focus on what you need to know and then ask: is it important or urgent, or can it be dealt with later?

Important material demands that you find time to give it proper attention. Urgent but unimportant material needs to be dealt with quickly but do not spend a lot of time or energy.

Whatever the material, you must select what is essential and skim what is not; know what to look for: concentrate in bursts and save your energy for more important material.

Improving your reading

Once you have decided what you are going to read:

Avoid the following bad habits:

Let's prove that you can take a wider view and see several words at once. For example if you can read the word...


in a single glance, then you can easily read the three words...

NEVER THE LESS, in a single glance.

If you can read the following twelve letters in one quick look:


then you can certainly read the following nine letters just as quickly:

THAT IS WHY Now try the following:

Effective Reading      depends upon      you having      the confidence      and courage      to explore      your own capabilities.

Forget about      reading slowly      and carefully.      You can double      your speed      by reading      two words      at a time.

Try not      to be      worried when      at first      you fail to grasp      the sense      of what      you read. Carry on to the      end of      the sentence      and refuse...

Practise using a wider eye-span as much as possible. After a while you will be able to fix your eyes in the centre of a column of news print and read straight down the column instead of across it.

Useful hints

In addition to this general approach there are a number of other useful things that you can do to help you with your general reading:

Ask questions as you read and answer them yourself - for example:

At first, it will be difficult to read and question at the same time but, with practice, the dual activity will become a habit. Keep a positive attitude and have a flexible approach - information and ideas are not readily communicated to a negative or fixed mind.

Effective reading is only one side of good communications. Effective writing is the other. Complex style, poor layout and unfamiliar jargon all conspire to ensure that communications will be poorly received.

And, remember, no matter how effective the reading, the recipient needs to be persuaded to the time and desire to read what has been written

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