Three or four years ago I adopted two techniques to speed up my reading. Firstly I guide my eyes with a finger or mouse and secondly I skip and skim if with abandon. For a while I tried the trick of stopping the eyes from going all the way to the edge of the page, but whilst that does make reading faster it takes too much concentration for me.
I just read about a simple third trick – to follow the finger of the left hand (or use the left hand to control the mouse). The left hand is controlled by the right side of the brain which is more creative than the left side. So, by using the left hand we get the more creative side of the brain to be active and engage the imagination in what we are reading which improves recall. When I first tried it a few minutes ago I could feel the difference (or at least I thought I could…).
The article also explains why following your finger improves reading speed – our minds evolved to spot movement as an indication of danger in the wild. Because our eyes are attracted to movement following our finger makes it easier to concentrate on the right spot.
If you are like me then you will read for at least 3-4 hours a day, including email. Most of us read at 200-250 words per minute, but with proper training we can apparently get to 400-500 words per minute, which would save us 1.5-2 hours per day. I haven’t timed myself reading or given myself ‘proper’ training, but I’m thinking I will now.