Given the volume of printed matter that business people, professionals, and students encounter each day, it's easy to accumulate piles of unread material. Richard Feldman, president of Learning Techniques®, a Merrick, NY firm that conducts educational seminars for companies and for college students, offers suggestions to help you read more quickly and effectively. Most people can double their productivity by applying these ten tips.

10. Skim Before Your Read - Speed read for main ideas in nonfiction works and textbooks. Scan the table of contents and first and last sentences of each paragraph. You'll improve your reading speed and comprehension if you understand a book's main ideas first. After you've skimmed the material, return to the beginning and read every line with improved reading speed and comprehension.

9. Prioritize Reading Materials - Categorize your reading into "important," "moderately important," and "least important" piles. Then tackle your reading, one pile at a time, in its order of importance. You'll improve your reading speed and comprehension by getting to the most important material first while your mind is sharp and clear.

8. Select the Proper Environment - Avoid reading important or difficult material in bed. Read at a desk instead.

7. Read Early in the Day - Improve your reading speed, comprehension, and concentration by reading during your "mental prime time." For most people this means reading in the morning, not in the evening. Wake up early to take advantage of reading early in the day.

6. Turn Headings into Questions - For textbooks and other reference materials, turn chapter headings and subheadings into questions. Scan the text to find the answers to your questions. Your reading speed improves by doing this, and you stay focused on the material.

5. Avoid Using a Highlighter When Studying - Highlighting, although a commonly used technique, actually reduces comprehension and reading speed. People who highlight end up reading the material twice. Follow tip number 6 instead.

4. Preview Before You Read - Take a few minutes to preview a chapter before reading it. You'll get a sense of what's interesting and relevant. More important, you'll get a sense of the overall structure of the chapter. This results in improved reading speed and comprehension.

3. Be Flexible with Your Reading Speed - Certain reading material must be read slowly and carefully: legal contracts and mathematical texts. Other materials can be read at much faster speeds: newspapers, novels, and magazines. Adjust your reading speed to the type of reading material and your reading purpose.

2. Read Correspondence Only Once - After you complete your reading of each piece, make a decision about what to do with it before moving on to the next one. By doing this, you avoid the need to read the same correspondence a second time in the future.

1. Enroll in a Speed Reading Class - Check the credentials of the speed reading instructor before enrolling in a speed reading class. If you are in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut, I'd love to see you in one of my speed reading classes!

COPYRIGHT (C) 2006 Learning Techniques

Dr. Richard Feldman is the founder of Learning Techniques®. He holds a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Columbia University. View his upcoming speed reading classes at
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