Marcel Proust’s ‘Remembrance of things past’ is a whopping 4215 pages long, covering seven volumes. Thankfully, most of us will never have to plough our way through that particular document however, there are times when we all need to absorb a large amount of information in a small amount of time. Having to read – and understand – a huge book or document can be daunting but, it needn’t be overwhelming. At ultimatebanners, reading – and understanding large amounts of content is a big part of what we do and, when it comes to speed reading, we have a few tricks up our sleeve – and these are as follows:
Preview and review
Before wading into a huge reading project, it’s a good idea to scan the book or document first. Flip through the pages and take note of chapter and paragraph headings. Not only will this give you the gist of the project, but it will also highlight the sections that you need to focus on and, those which you can skip.
It’s all in the planning
Now that you’ve got an idea of the content of the book, it’s time to plan your attack. At this stage, there are two things you need to ask yourself – What do you want to learn? And, What questions are you hoping to answer? Write down the answers to these questions and, then, cross-reference them against the notes you made during your preview. You’ve now got a sensible and workable plan for when you start reading plus, by breaking the project down into chunks like this, it will appear a lot less daunting.
A place and time
When embarking on your reading project, the environment is everything – which rules out a noisy coffee shop or a busy office. If you’re required to complete the project within your workplace then find an empty office or boardroom as distractions are your arch enemy when it comes to concentration and focus. Don’t forget to take short breaks, even if you’re on a tight deadline, as this will help you to absorb what you’ve read as well as giving your eyes a rest.
It’s only words
In your preview stage, you chopped out some unnecessary sections but, it doesn’t stop there. Unless the text is particularly complex, you don’t need to focus on – or even read – every single word to get the meaning. You can usually scan a few sentences at a time without losing understanding – and you can also make a note to return to a section later if you need to.
Ahh, the internet – the source of a lot of our frustration but, also, our biggest time-saving invention. If the book or document you’ve been tasked with is available online (or even as a digital document), you may be able to run a search of the document on your computer. This can help you by quickly highlighting the pages that you need to focus on, as well as letting you copy and paste some sections for your notes.
The art of speed reading is one that takes a little practice – and a lot of planning – but is worth effort. This process will allow you to digest a huge amount of data in a fraction of the time that it would normally take – which is invaluable when you’re up against a deadline or two. Happy reading!
Article by Ben – author of the pull up banners design guide.