I already told you that breaking existing habits is a key part of learning how to improve your reading speed. I told you about subvocalization and how much saying words as you read them slows your reading speed. I also showed you how easy it is to break this habit simply by occupying your mouth with some other task.
Now I’m going to tell you about another reading habit that wastes about a third of every hour you spend reading. Yes that’s right – about 20 minutes out of every hour!
The habit is called regression and like I said, it’s a HUGE time waster. The thing to remember about regression though, is that it sometimes comes in handy. So you shouldn’t completely eliminate it from your reading arsenal. But you do need to learn how to control it, especially if your goal is to improve reading speed.
Regression is the process of re-reading text that you’ve already read. It goes by other names including back-skipping, re-reading, and going back over what you’ve read. Whatever you call it, regression is like taking two steps forward with your eyes and one step back – and sometimes, a lot more than one step back; like when you go back and re-read an entire page or worse, an entire chapter!
If you ever have an opportunity to observe someone while they read to themselves, pay close attention to their eyes and you might be able to catch regression in action. As you watch that person’s eyes you will probably see them moving in a forward direction at a pretty good clip. And then suddenly, for no apparent reason, you’ll see the eyes twitch backwards. If you keep observing, you’ll likely see this process repeat itself over and over again.
Like I said a few moments ago, regression is a habit that can seriously slow your reading speed. And not only that, regression disrupts your concentration. You’ve probably never thought about it, but reading isn’t all that matters. You also have to comprehend what you read. Without comprehension, reading is a wasted effort.
A lack of concentration, whether real or perceived, is one reason you might regress when you read. For some reason you don’t trust your brain’s ability to comprehend the material, so just to be sure you go back and read the information again. What you don’t realize is that re-reading is the more likely cause of reduced comprehension because it interferes with the proper flow and meaning of the words.
Subvocalization can also cause regression for the simple reason that your eyes usually move faster than the mouth. When the difference between what your eyes see and your mouth reads becomes too much, comprehension falters. Regression might also be a form of compulsive behavior.
No matter why you regress, you can free yourself from the regression habit.
All you need is a plain white or colored card that’s as wide as the column of text you plan to read. Just be sure it’s blank because any writing will distract your eyes. Now all you do is pull the card up as you read so that the text you’ve already read is covered by the card. With the text covered up and out of sight, you’re less tempted to go back and reread. The less you back-track, the quicker you’ll break the regression habit.
Once you break this habit, feel free to ditch this visual aid because I plan to show you newer ways to reduce regression.
Ok – that’s it for today. Stay tuned for more speed reading tips coming soon.