How To Maximize Your Proofreading and Free Time by Reading Faster

You have an hour train ride to your aunt’s house for the weekend and a 200-page novel to proofread. While making any sized dent in editing is progress, getting through 50 pages instead of 35 during your ride seems like a much better deal. By increasing your efficiency, and completing more work per minute, you’ll have more time to do other things you enjoy like spending time with that aunt of yours, or even watching a well-deserved episode of “Fleabag.” To help you maximize your work and beloved free time, here are some tips to help you read faster and more effectively.

One of the most common reading issues that will slow you down is called “regression.” Regression is when you’ve been reading a page and look up and think, “Wait—I don’t remember a single thing from the page I just read.” Regression may also appear in the form of forgetting that entire characters or plot lines exist, or failing to recall a specific term definition. It may even be happening to you now (although I hope it isn’t!). By eliminating regression, you will read much more actively, be more present (which makes for a better proofreader), and save time by avoiding re-reading. The easiest way to avoid regression, and to read more effectively, is by tracking your lines. Place a bookmark or a piece of paper under the line you’re reading. This technique will help you to stay focused on the line you’re reading, instead of letting your mind wander and think about what you had for lunch that day.

Fixation is another common issue that will slow you down. Have you ever realized you’ve been staring at a wall, completely zoned out for multiple minutes? I sure have. Well, the same thing happens while reading. As you read, your eyes may linger or fixate on a certain spot of the page, ultimately slowing you down and lessening the information you retain. This could potentially cause you to miss errors, or just slow your pace overall. To stray from fixating, try using your finger, a pencil, or your computer cursor to follow along the words as you read. Your eyes will track the motion, causing them to stay focused, and additionally, your reading pace may quicken. Normally when we read, we are unaware of our reading pace. Moving an object consistently will correct this and keep your pace even.

The final element to quicken your reading speed is shutting down that little voice in your head. While, yes, your conscience is supposed to help you, it can actually hinder your reading. If you consciously repeat every word you see, commonly referred to as “subvocalization,” your processing speed slows. While subvocalization cannot be completely eliminated, reducing it could improve your reading speed by even 50% or greater. Play classical or instrumental music in the background; this should help drown out some of the noise in your head and distract your brain. If this doesn’t work for you, touch your tongue to the roof of your mouth to distract your brain while reading.

If you really want to put your skills to the test, time yourself reading this post now, and re-time yourself in a week after applying all of these techniques (there are 588 words in this post)! I hope these tricks help you to read faster and more effectively, so that you can finally fit that episode of “Fleabag” into your day.

Woman looking at doorway in large book

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