6 Tips to Meet Your Reading Goals for the Year

The first quarter of the year is up, and you might be concerned about your reading progress.

You might have set yourself a lofty goal at the beginning of the year. You were likely fully optimistic and raring to go to get as much reading done as you can.

But as you might already know, resolutions don’t always match up to results.

After all, reading several books a month does require time and effort on your part. And sometimes you might find yourself slogging through, instead of really enjoying yourself.

Along with factors like whether you like what you’re reading, there might be some hidden reasons slowing you down.

In fact, you might have some reading habits that affect your reading in more ways than one.

This doesn’t just refer to your reading speed, but also your comprehension and your enjoyment and engagement with the text.

Here are some of the things that might be slowing your reading down – and what to do about them!

Table of Contents

1. Reduce Regressions

2. Reduce Subvocalization

3. Turn What You Read into Mental Movies

4. Fix Your Fixations

5. Be Mindful When Reading on a Screen

6. Use More Than One Modality When Reading

6 Tips to Meet Your Reading Goals for the Year

1. Reduce Regressions

6 Tips to Meet Your Reading Goals for the Year

Do you find that you tend to backtrack a lot when you’re reading?

You might lose track of where you are on the page, or in between lines. You might find that as you’re reading, you forget what you read and need to go back.

This can be very taxing for your brain.

Imagine if you had to drive somewhere, but every couple of minutes you had to stop and check your map.

Imagine having to hit the brakes and reverse and start all over again multiple times.

How long would it take you to get to your destination?

And how would you feel about the journey as you constantly stop and start and go back? Would you be focusing on enjoying the drive, or get frustrated and tired instead?

Regressions work just like that. You might not realize it, but these tiny starts and stops build up and tire your brain out.

So, what can you do to solve regressions? There’s actually one simple solution.

Use a pacer!

By moving your finger or a pen under a line as you’re reading, your eyes have an object to track.

This means you’re less likely to lose your place as you’re rereading! And as a result, you don’t have to constantly double back!

2. Reduce Subvocalization

6 Tips to Meet Your Reading Goals for the YearOne of the reasons you might be reading slower than you could be is subvocalization.

This means that as you read, you’re sounding the words out in your mind. You’re saying them out loud in your head.

This might be a habit that’s stuck with you since you learned to read with phonics.

You learned to distinguish letters as specific sounds and combinations of sounds that make up each word.

However, the reason this slows down your reading is because you speak a lot slower than you can read.

An average person speaks somewhere between 100 and 130 words per minute. But you have the potential to read much faster!

The pacer can help you undo subvocalization. By moving the pen steadily and quickly along the lines, your brain learns to grab the meaning of the word rather than lingering too long to decipher the syllables.

Another way you can reduce subvocalization is actually the best way your brain learns and remembers – through pictures.

3. Turn What You Read into Mental Movies

6 Tips to Meet Your Reading Goals for the YearYour brain processes, retains and retrieves pictures thousands of times faster than it does text.

In fact, you use about 80% of your brain’s surface area for visual processing!

This engages both cognitive and emotional pathways in your brain, allowing for deeper and intuitive understanding.

For example, if I showed you this picture of a sad person, versus describing this person’s expressions, how they’re sitting, what they’re doing, which do you process faster?

6 Tips to Meet Your Reading Goals for the Year

When I ask you to think about all your colleagues, what springs to mind faster – their faces, or their names?

Your brain loves pictures, and in the case of learning and memory, they really are worth a thousand words.

Pictures can communicate both concrete concepts and abstract ideas that might take you many paragraphs to describe.

This is why turning what you read into mental movies is one of the fastest and most fool-proof ways to store it into your memory!

You can drastically cut down subvocalization by focusing more on the ideas you’re reading about, than the words individually.

Your brain will conjure up and retrieve pictures much faster than it will words!

It might take you a little practice to do this naturally as you read but do commit yourself to it.

You’ll not only find that you’re reading faster, but that your memory, comprehension, and immersion in reading all increase!

4. Fix Your Fixations

6 Tips to Meet Your Reading Goals for the YearJust as the name suggests, fixations happen when your eyes “fixate” while reading.

If you tend to get stuck on words for a millisecond while reading, this also slows your reading down.

Again, it’s like if you had to hit the brakes every couple of minutes while driving somewhere.

Luckily, you can nix fixations with a pacer too! When your eyes have a target to follow, you’re much less likely to get stuck while reading.

And the great news is, the result is immediate!

5. Be Mindful When Reading on a Screen

6 Tips to Meet Your Reading Goals for the YearLike many people these days, you might be doing a lot of, if not all of, your reading on a screen.

And while reading on screens has many advantages, a big disadvantage can be the blue light coming out of them.

Naturally occurring blue light, as in sunlight, is actually good for you. During the day it signals for suppressing your sleep hormone, melatonin. This keeps you alert and awake through the day!

Artificial blue light is a different story.

Blue light, out of all the other light wavelengths, scatters the most. It’s this “scattering” that makes the sky appear blue on cloudless days.

However, when you’re staring into a direct source of blue light, like screens, your eyes have a hard time focusing.

They work overtime trying to make out the contrast between shapes and silhouettes and their backgrounds.

Ever experienced headaches, or tired and irritable eyes, after reading on the screen for a while?

These are all symptoms of Digital Eye Strain (DES).

Your eyes are a part of your nervous system circuit – basically they’re an extension of your brain.

So, when your eyes are overtaxed, this affects your brain as well. You might experience headaches, brain fog, and more. In the long run, with too much blue light exposure, some doctors say you might even sustain long term damage to your eyes.

Plus, the same melatonin suppression that works in your favor during the day can backfire on you at night.

Staring into your screen after dark can disrupt your sleep schedule. And this has multiple dire consequences on your learning, memory, and overall health and well-being.

You might be using a device that let’s you adjust color temperature, but I find that these aren’t totally effective.

If you have no choice but to use your devices to read at night, try out blue light blockers. You can use tinted glasses – red ones completely block blue light – and photochromatic lenses with UV protection.

You can also purchase protective blue light filtering screens for your devices!

6. Use More Than One Modality When Reading

6 Tips to Meet Your Reading Goals for the YearYou might be reading with text, or with audiobooks, but what about both at the same time?

This is a powerful tool that lets you input what you’re reading through two modalities.

In other words, you activate both your visual and auditory pathways when listening and reading at the same time.

This activates more parts of your brain, allowing you to engage with the material cognitively and emotionally.

You have a more emotionally and comprehensively engaging experience with the text, making it more immersive and memorable!

It also automatically helps you undo all the other poor reading habits that might be slowing you down.

Because the audio helps you keep track of what you’re reading, you don’t get stuck with fixations, or slowed down by regressions and subvocalizations.

To take full advantage of this system, there are some strategies that you need to know and practice.

I cover all of that and more in the Total Recall Speed Reading section of my course Total Recall Learning. So, do be sure to check that out!

Reading habits which you might not even be aware of could be slowing your reading down and affecting your enjoyment.

I recommend completing the Eye-Q Reading Inventory to narrow down exactly which reading habits pertain to you. You can then use specific strategies that work best to address those roadblocks!

With these 6 tips to meet your reading goals for the year, I wish you happy reading with confidence and enjoyment!

Pat Wyman is the CEO of HowtoLearn.com, HowtoLearn.Teachable.com, best selling author and an internationally noted brain and learning coach known as America’s Most Trusted Learning Expert.

Pat’s superpower is helping people learn, read and remember everything faster. She has helped over half a million people in schools and corporations such as Microsoft, Intel and Google improve their lives with her learning strategies, learning styles inventory and courses, including Total Recall Learning™.

She is the best-selling author of more than 15 books, a university instructor, mom and golden retriever lover!

Contact Pat to find out more about the Brain 2.0 Brain Advantage Learning and Career Assessment and customized faster learning programs for professionals and students.

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