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The Blog

4 Simple Ways to Increase Your Reading Speed

If you’re a businessman who has to go through lengthy project reports or correspondence, or a student studying and researching vast amounts of material, you might be interested in techniques of speed reading. Of course there are advanced techniques that can vastly enhance your reading speed, but you’ll find that just following the simple methods below can also make a significant difference in how fast you read and Continue Reading…

Make a Breakthrough with Fast Reading

With the vast resources of information available to everyone on-line at the click of a mouse, the ability to quickly assimilate and process vast amounts of information can well be the difference between success and failure – or between rapid advancement up the corporate ladder or a slow and tedious climb to the top. Consider even the uses that speed reading can be put to in the world of business.Continue Reading…

What is the Best Speed Reading Software?

There’s quite a demand for software that teach speed reading these days, as more and more people find their working environment growing increasingly more competitive. Of course one could always sign up for one of the local speed reading courses – they’re all over the place these days. But it’s far more convenient to be able to practice at home. The problem with practice at home is that one doesn’t have the luxury of an instructor, and this can mean that one makes very little progress. But no longer, because Continue Reading…

Looking After Your Eyes

Don’t worry; the exercises I’m going to teach you won’t even make you break a sweat.  These exercises have been designed to give your eye muscles a workout.  Like every other muscle in your body, with exercise, you can strengthen your eye muscles and as a result, make them healthier and more flexible.

Stronger, more flexible eye muscles will go a long way towards improving your ability to read faster.  The added strength and flexibility helps your eyes perform all the movements necessary to increase your reading speed and expand their peripheral vision.

While I’m at it, I’m also going to teach you a few tricks to help your eye muscles relax.  Feel free to practice the relaxation exercises after spending time on the computer or any time your eyes feel tired or strained.

Remember, you’ll reap the most benefit if you practice these exercises regularly.  So please, be sure to make time to do them.  Trust me, they won’t take very long.

Remember also that while these exercises can enhance eye health, they will not do anything to correct vision that’s impaired in any way.  Only your eye doctor can help with that so don’t expect any miracles.

Now, one final word of advice.

Consider doing these eye exercises where no one else can see you.  To an outside observer, some of what you’ll be doing will look pretty strange.  And some of it may make it look like you’re sleeping.  So be careful!

Alright, let’s begin with an easy eye exercise designed to help improve your peripheral vision.  Basically all you’ll do here is stretch your eyes as far left and as far right as you can.  This exercise works your eye socket muscles, also known as the extra-ocular muscles, and helps increase their flexibility.

To start, sit or stand and focus your vision straight ahead.  Next stretch each hand out to the side like you used to do when pretending you were an airplane.  Stick each thumb up towards the sky and hold that pose.

Now, keeping your head straight, move your eyes to the right until you can see your thumb.  If you can’t quite see it, just stretch your eyes as far to the right side as you can.  Then glance to the left while making sure you keep your head still and facing straight ahead.  Continue glancing right to left and left to right nine more times.  Repeat the sequence of 10 glances to each side for a total of three sets.

That’s it, you’re done!  See, I told you it’d be easy!

The next exercise is even easier.  It involves rolling your eyes, something most of you probably already know how to do pretty well.  Only this time when you roll your eyes, it won’t be because you’re being sarcastic or reacting to something that someone else said.  You’ll be doing these eye rolls on purpose to help strengthen the muscles in your eye socket.  These are the muscles that help your eyes move vertically, horizontally, and all around.   Purposely rolling these muscles increases their flexibility, too.

Here’s all you do.

Focus your eyes straight ahead at the 12 o’clock position.  Now move your eyes to the right in a circular direction until your eyes make a complete circle and are back at the 12 o’clock position.  Now blink.  Beginning again at the 12 o’clock position, rotate your eyes counterclockwise until you make a complete circle and arrive back at the 12 o’clock position and then blink again.

Continue rolling your eyes for 5 sets of clockwise and counter-clockwise rolls.  While rolling your eyes, be sure to really exaggerate the movement to help stretch those muscles as far as comfortably possible.  That’s it.

I’ll bet your eyes are already beginning to feel better.

Next, instead of rolling your eyes in an anticipated circular motion, this exercise will have you moving your eyes in all sorts of random directions.  All you’ll be doing is using your eyes to “write” letters on the wall.

Starting with your eyes focused straight ahead print your name on the wall in front of you using appropriate eye movements to make each letter.  For example, if your name begins with the letter “L”, position your eyes at the top of the letter and sweep your eyes downwards, then over to the right, and you’re done.

Continue moving your eyes until you’ve printed all of the letters in your name on the wall in front of you.  When finished, write your name again, only this time instead of printing the letters, try writing them in cursive.

You can keep going as long as you want with this exercise, and you can “write” any words that you want.  Like eye rolling, eye writing exercises help make the eye muscles more flexible and help increase your eyes’ range of motion.

Next I’ll show you a simple way to strengthen your ciliary muscles.  The ciliary muscles help your eyes focus on objects near and in the distance.  They accomplish this task by flattening the lenses in the eyes to focus on distant objects and rounding the lenses when you need to focus on near objects.  The ciliary muscles give your eyes their amazing ability to rapidly change focus on a wide variety of distances.

This is a great exercise for everyone, and especially those of you over age 40 since that’s the age when the ciliary muscles begin losing their strength.

In this exercise you’ll begin by focusing for a few seconds on an object that’s only about 5 or 6 inches in front of your eyes.  Then you’ll change your focus to something in the distance that’s about 10 feet away.  As you change your focus between up-close and distant, be sure to do so slowly and only change from near to far after each close and distant object comes into focus.

You can focus on anything you like in the distance as long as it’s about 8 to 10 feet away.  For the up close portion of the exercise try holding your finger or a pen 5 or 6 inches in front of your eyes.  Continue slowly changing your focus from an up close object to a distant object ten times and you’re through.

The final eye exercise I want to teach you actually helps your eyes relax, although it may not seem like it at first.  All you do with this exercise is open your eyes up as wide as you can while inhaling your breath slowly and deeply.  Then you squeeze your eyes shut really, really tight while slowly exhaling, and you hold that squeeze and your breath for about 30 seconds.  Open and squeeze your eyes 5 times, take a brief break, and repeat the sequence 5 more times.

Besides relaxing your eyes, opening and squeezing helps increase muscle flexibility.  The deep inhales and exhales help bring more oxygen and blood towards your face and eye area, too.

I already told you about the 20-20-20 exercise so I won’t repeat it here.  Just remember to do it whenever your eyes feel strained.  It’s another great way to flex your ciliary muscles.

The last few eye exercises are good to do when your eyes need to relax.  Like the others, they’re quick and effective.

The first is simply an eye massage and it’s something you probably already know how to do.  Just be careful if you wear contact lenses, or you might find the massage accidentally pops the contacts out of your eyes.

With eyes lightly closed, use the tips of your fingers to create tiny circles on your eyelids while applying light but firm pressure.  You can also rapidly tap your eyelids with your fingertips, or try a combination of both.

No matter which way you choose to massage your eyes, be sure to move your fingers all around the eyes.  Let your fingers guide the way across your eye balls, working their way as high and as low on the eye surface as they can comfortably go.  Let your fingers massage the area under your eyes too.  And while you’re at it, consider giving your forehead and both temples a little rub to relieve any built-up tension.

Another simple way to give your eyes a rest is to close them and cover them with your palms for up to 5 minutes.  First, remove your glasses if you wear them.  Next quickly rub both palms together to create some heat.  Then, using a table or your desk to support both elbows, form the palms of your hands into a cupped shape by imagining that you’re holding some water in the palms of both hands.  With cupped hands positioned towards your face, close both eyes.

Now move your head down until each of your eyes is covered by each cupped hand.  Your hands will now be supporting both your neck and head.  Close your fingers up and move your and hands around until you form a tight fit around each eye that blocks out as much light as possible.

Your hands should be touching all around your eyes, but should not be directly touching them, kind of like a suction cup.  Think about your neck and shoulders and take a moment to relax them.  This is the position you want to hold.

Now, for the next few minutes, I give you permission to take deep breaths and daydream about whatever makes you happy.  For best results, include the most pleasant details you can image.  This last exercise is an excellent way to give your eyes the brief periods of rest they need to continue on with whatever task they, and you, need them to complete.

And there you have it – a series of exercises designed especially for your eyes.  If you know of any others, feel free to practice them as well.  Like the rest of your body, the more exercise you give your eyes, the better they’ll perform.  And better performance definitely goes a long way towards increasing your reading speed.

Finally, let’s not forget about the most beneficial way to rest your eyes and that is with sleep.  No matter how busy you are, there comes a time when each day must end, so let it.  Sleep is refreshing, enjoyable and necessary to maintain good health.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Ergonomics portion of the speed reading posts.  I’ve covered a lot of really important information in this section and I hope you’ve found it useful.  Some of it may not be useful, so pick and choose as appropriate to your situation.

The main point I’ve tried to make in this post is this:  Eye fatigue is real, and when left untreated, will slow your speed reading progress.  So always take time to exercise and rest your eyes.  And if you need to, make an appointment to visit an eye doctor!

Equally important to reducing eye fatigue is making sure your reading environment is as ergonomically-correct and glare-free as possible.  Taking time to properly prepare your reading environment will go a long way towards increasing both your reading speed and you ability to comprehend more.  Just try it and you’ll see.

As I have said throughout these posts, faster reading with better concentration is the gateway to gaining more knowledge.  And in today’s increasingly competitive world, more knowledge means more power.

I wish you the best of luck and all the knowledge you can amass!

Video Version of Post

Avoiding Eye Strain

Next up I offer tips for reducing eye strain while using your computer.  Staring at a computer monitor places a lot of extra demand on your eyes, and the only way to stop this is to stop using your computer.  But I realize that’s probably impossible to do.  For most of us, computers have gone from a part-time source of information and entertainment to a full-time necessity of life.

What’s important to know before I start is that the advice I’m about to give is good advice to follow no matter how much time you spend at your computer.  Even if you think your computer monitor is optimally set up, it never hurts to take a few minutes to double check your measurements and settings.

Okay, let’s start with monitor placement.  Most importantly, your computer monitor should be positioned directly in front of you.  Having it off to one side or the other causes your neck to twist unnecessarily and could cause unnecessary tension and headaches.

With your monitor directly in front of you, let’s next check the distance from your eyes.

The ideal position of your computer monitor is anywhere between 20 inches and 26 inches in front of your eyes, or about two feet.  Here’s a way to help visualize the distance.

Sit in your chair as you normally would when working on the computer, stretch your arm out in front of you, and extend your index finger.  When finished, the tip of your finger should touch the computer screen.

If the computer monitor is too close or too far away from your eyes, you may be squinting or straining your eyes in an effort to see the screen.  As I’ve said before, neither is good for your vision.  If having the monitor closer or further away is the only way you can see it, guess what?  You need to heed my previous advice and get yourself to the eye doctor right away!

If you already wear glasses or contacts and you still have trouble seeing the computer screen when positioned at the ideal distance of 20 to 26 inches away from your eyes, you may need a new prescription.  A quick visit to the eye doctor will take care of that too!

Now let’s talk about the height of your computer monitor.  You can’t assume that plopping your monitor on top of your desk means it’s at the correct height to reduce eye strain.  The ideal position is one that doesn’t cause your neck to tilt upwards or down in order to see what’s on the screen.  A monitor that’s too high or too low not only causes eye strain, it can cause a sore back and shoulders.

If the monitor is not at the right height, you can try adjusting your chair height.  Or you can place your computer monitor on top of something stable so you can raise the monitor to a more appropriate level.

Now let’s play around with the settings on your monitor.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing this or don’t know how, it’s probably a good idea to ask for help.  First let’s see if the monitor refresh rate needs adjusting.  The refresh rate has to do with the speed at which the pixels on the monitor screen repaint.  A higher refresh rate creates a smoother appearance when objects are in motion.  Slower speeds create a more smear-like appearance.  The ideal refresh rate range is a minimum of 75 Hertz.  Anything slower tends to increase the likelihood of eye strain.

Now look at the computer screen’s brightness and contrast.  If it appears too bright, tone down the brightness and/or contrast as necessary.  The goal is to adjust these settings so they closely match what you’re used to when reading.

You can also tweak other monitor settings as necessary so that the text that displays on the screen is easier to read.  You can try changing things like your browser’s text size, your screen’s resolution, the zoom default and the font defaults until you find a combination that works best for you.

If you work with documents and you don’t already have one, invest in a document holder.  You’ll find ones you can attach right to your computer monitor.  You’ll also find ones that look like mini easels.  It doesn’t matter which type you choose.  The main goal is to get the document off your desk and up to eye level.  With your documents at eye level your eyes no longer have to repeatedly look down at your desk and back up to your screen as you do your work.  Such repetitive motion is extremely tiring and usually leads to eye strain.

Once you have your computer monitor set up to reduce eye strain, take another look around and see if you notice any new sources of glare.  As I mentioned already, glare is a major cause of eye strain.  To avoid it, it’s important to maintain balance between the light behind the monitor and the light that appears on the monitor.  Diffuse or eliminate direct or indirect light in front of your computer monitor as well as that which comes from behind.  If all else fails and you still have glare, it’s time to consider attaching a glare shield to the front of your monitor.

Finally, give your eyes a break!  When your eyes are focused on your computer screen, they don’t blink as often and the surfaces get more exposure to air.  As a result, they get drier and the muscles have to work harder to keep the eyes open and focused on the screen.  Taking brief but regular breaks do your eyes a whole lot of good.  Try it and you’ll see.

Here’s all you have to do.

About every 15 to 20 minutes, look away from your computer monitor.  Focus your vision on something in the distance that’s about 20 feet away.  Keep your focus for at least 20 seconds and as long as 2 minutes.  The break sequence is easy to remember if you think of it as the 20-20-20 rule.

A simple eye break like this taken throughout the day allows the eye muscles time to relax.  And when they’re relaxed, they’re less likely to become strained.  It’s also a good idea to spend a few seconds during each break blinking your eyes very quickly.  Doing so helps moisten your eyes and clears dust from the surfaces.

Just remember, you need to focus on the object in the distance.  So don’t move your eyes around.  Doing so defeats the whole purpose of the eye break.  When your break’s over, go ahead and return your eyes to your monitor and be sure to repeat the break sequence in another 20 minutes and 20 minutes after that.  Continue practicing the 20-20-20 break the entire time you’re working on your computer.  If you have to, set a timer to remind you when it’s time for another break.

I have one more piece of advice to give you about computer breaks.  Every half-hour to hour, try giving your entire body a brief break.  Get up from your desk. Walk around a bit; maybe go grab some water or a healthy snack.  While away from your desk, stretch your arms and your legs, your fingers and whatever else feels like it needs a stretch.  Then go back to your desk and resume your work.

Once you get in the habit of taking eye breaks and body breaks, your eyes will feel less strained and your body overall will feel less tired.  And as I said in the beginning of this post, when you feel less tired, chances are you’ll be more productive!

Next I’m going to talk about everybody’s favorite topic:  Exercise!

Video Version of Post

Keeping Your Eyes In Shape

Speaking of the eye doctor, when’s the last time you visited one?  If it’s been a while, it’s probably a good idea to make an appointment with an optometrist.  Let’s face it.  You want to improve your reading speed, don’t you?  Well guess what?  You need your eyes to make that happen.  If your eyes aren’t in the best shape they can be, your reading speed won’t be as fast as it can be, either.

I know most of you probably dislike going to the doctor.  But the eye doctor is different.  First of all, you get to keep your clothes on.  And second, you don’t have to step on the scale!

All you do is sit back and let the technicians and the eye doctor use a bunch of fancy equipment to look at and test your eyes.  During an exam, which generally lasts between 30 and 90 minutes, you can expect to discuss your eye and general health history with your doctor.  You’ll also have your eyes checked for visual acuity which basically involves seeing how far down the eye chart you can read.  No doubt you’ve done that before.

The eye doctor will continue the exam by looking at your eyes to see how white they are and whether he notices any irregularities in your eyelids and other areas on or surrounding your eyes.  He’ll test the alignment and refraction of your eyes, how your pupils respond, and he’ll also test for glaucoma.  He’ll also look closely at your retina and optic nerves.

When the doctor’s all done, he’ll be able to provide an accurate diagnosis and suggest treatment options should any eye issues be uncovered.

Don’t be surprised to hear your doctor talk about the importance of eating a nutritionally-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and quitting bad habits like smoking.  Like it or not, good vision depends on all this.

A lot of my students wonder how often they should visit the eye doctor.  Here’s what the American Optometric Association recommends:

If you’re between the ages of 19 and 40, chances are your eyes are still healthy and you probably enjoy good vision.  The biggest eye problems this age group experiences are those associated with injury, visual stress and exposure to the sun.  As long as you take steps to avoid these problems, your vision should remain problem-free.

But that doesn’t mean you should skip the exams.  People in this age group should schedule an eye exam at least every two years.  Doing so is the best and easiest way to ensure continued eye health and detect eye problems early on when they’re still easily treatable.

Of course, if you have a family history of eye problems or if problems like high blood pressure and diabetes run in your family, you may need more frequent exams.  That’s something you can talk about with your eye doctor.

If you’re between the ages of 41 and 60, development of vision problems is practically unavoidable.  The most common is a diminished ability to clearly see up close, which is what you do when you read.  This diminished ability will affect your ability to read printed material as well as information on your computer monitor.

Unfortunately, this is a problem that inevitably develops with age and usually continues to worsen.  The good news is, it’s easily treatable with prescriptive lenses.

Other normal problems you might begin experiencing if you’re part of this age group include a need for brighter light to help you see, the appearance of more glare, color perception changes, and diminished tear production.

Again the recommendation for this age group is an eye examination every two years.  During your examinations, your eye doctor will be on the lookout for signs of macular degeneration, glaucoma, and vision problems associated with prescription medications and other health issues from which you may suffer or that run in your family.  If your job is visually demanding, let your eye doctor know so he can look for any signs that your work may be affecting your vision.

If you’re over 60, annual eye examinations are recommended.  From age 60 on, there’s an increased risk of developing certain vision disorders including Age Related Macular Degeneration, Glaucoma, Diabetic Retinopathy, Cataracts, dry eye and Retinal detachment.  Frequent examinations will detect these types of problems more easily than you’ll be able to.

Okay, that’s enough about eye examinations.  I realize my talk about eye examinations got us off the topic of ergonomics, but I had to bring it up.  The truth is, it doesn’t even make sense to attempt speed reading if your eyes aren’t sharp and focused.  I hope you got my message and that you schedule an eye examination – if you need one – straight away.

You’ll know you need one if you haven’t had one in a while.  You also should schedule one if words look fuzzy or blurry especially those close up, if your vision is faint or you have double vision, your eyes seem excessively dry or if you’ve reached middle age.

Having a professional look at your eyes is the only way you can be sure your eyes are ready for the challenge of helping your reading speed soar!

Video Version of Post

Learn How to Speed Read – Without Glare

Glare happens because of the way light reflects off surfaces.  When there’s glare, there’s usually a lot of squinting.  And when there’s a lot of squinting, eyes get tired.  So get rid of it.

The easiest way to control glare when speed reading, is to control the source of light that’s causing it.  You can also take steps to adjust any surfaces that are reflecting the light.  And you can filter the source of light before it has a chance to reach your eyes.  Address all of these issues and you will have greatly reduced and possibly even eliminated one of the biggest triggers of eye fatigue.

When it comes to light sources, most glare is caused by direct light.  So whenever possible, try to use reflected sources instead.  Also, be sure to use lampshades or globes to help diffuse or soften the amount of light coming from desk lamps, table lamps and ceiling lights.

If the light comes from outdoors, diffuse the source by covering your windows with curtains or plastic blinds.  Wooden blinds and metal blinds aren’t as good of a covering because they may reflect the light and cause more glare.

If you’re reading at a desk, it’s important to learn that any shiny surfaces on or around your desk will also reflect light and cause you to squint.  It’s true!  So you need to get to work covering up all those shiny surfaces.  Try placing a glare filter over your computer monitor and a desk calendar or something else across the top of your desk that makes the desk surface duller.  You may have to move or remove your photos and anything else that’s causing glare.

The way you position your work area also determines whether you attract or reduce glare.  Whenever you are looking straight at the light source, like when your reading desk faces a window, you will always have more glare.  What you need to do instead is position your work surface so that it’s at a 90 degree angle to the light source whether that source is a window, a lamp or something else.

If you’ve tried all this and glare is still a problem, don’t give up!  There are other steps you can take.  If you can’t stop light from coming in, you can always stop it from reaching your eyes.  All you have to do is cover your eyes with polarized lenses.

Even if you don’t need glasses to correct your vision, it may be time to visit an eye doctor.  He or she can help you select a pair of glasses that have been specially designed to reduce glare.

Remember, glare is a common problem and a major cause of eye strain.  Solutions are out there but the only way you’ll find them if you go hunting for them.

And speaking of hunting, don’t laugh, but glasses specifically designed for shooting or hunting are also very effective at stopping glare before it reaches your eyes!

It doesn’t matter how you look, or how your speed reading environment looks.  When it comes to glare, what matters most is eliminating it so you can eliminate the problem of eye fatigue!

Video Version of Post

Speed Reading Methods That Look After Your Eyes

Just as there are ergonomic methods that apply to the wrists or your back, there are also ergonomic principles associated with your eyes.  Think about it.  When you read, whether you read fast or slow, your eyes are constantly in motion.

They’re fixating and jumping countless times a second.  They’re trying to stretch their peripheral vision to take in as many words as possible in a single glance.  They’re skipping over unimportant words.  They’re moving up and down each page, zigzagging backwards and forwards and starting all over again with each page turn.  All of this and more is happening thanks to those six muscles I talked about earlier that are attached to your eyes.

With so much movement going on, your eye muscles are bound to get tired and maybe even trigger a headache.  Besides constant movement, other things happening in your life can trigger tired eyes including stress, fluorescent lighting, being tired in general, poor posture, a stuffy work space, alcohol misuse, and reading when you’re already tired.

All of these situations can lead to eye fatigue.  But eye fatigue doesn’t stop there.  It can lead to eye strain, which is actually a form of repetitive stress injury.  If left untreated, this type of injury can be debilitating.

How do you know when your eyes are tired?  Sometimes you just feel it like when your eyelids and your forehead start feeling heavy.

But other times, you might experience symptoms and not realize they’re symptoms of eye fatigue.  Other signs that your eyes may be tired or strained include dizziness, nausea, lightheadedness, eye twitches or spasms, car sickness, blurred or double vision, watery or itchy eyes, eyes that burn even when they’re closed and dry eyes.  Tired or sore eyes are also symptomatic of eye strain as are problems with reading and an inability to concentrate.

If any of these symptoms appear after a visually intensive task, it’s time to stop what you’re doing and seek treatment.  Luckily, treating eye fatigue is easy.  Most of the time, all you have to do is give your eyes a much needed break.  Whether you’re reading or driving or looking at the computer monitor or something else, simply stop and allow your eyes a chance to rest and recover.

When you take time to relieve eye fatigue, good things happen.  First, you’ll notice that your productivity increases so you’ll accomplish more in less time and with less effort.  And second, you’ll probably notice that you feel better overall.

Because most of us have so much to do and so little time to get it all done, it’s probably not possible to totally eliminate eye fatigue from our lives.  There will be times when we’ll keep on going even though we know we should be stopping.  To the extent you can, try to keep these instances to a minimum.

And try taking steps to help reduce the likelihood of eye strain becoming a problem in the first place.  Next I’ll share with you some easy steps you can implement starting right now.

Since glare is one of the biggest contributors to eye fatigue, let’s tackle this issue first.

Video Version of Post

Speed Reading Tips That Make a Difference

In this post I will cover a number of speed reading tips related to ergonomics.

Speed Reading Tip #1 – Choose your environment

One thing that surprises my students when they first learn to speed read is the importance of where they read.  Most of them think, “Hey it’s time to read.  Let me settle in and get comfortable so I can start reading faster than I’ve ever read before.”

They head over to the couch, or bring their laptop or their books to their favorite coffee shop that’s buzzing with activity, or they plunk their chairs in the sand, books in their laps.  Then open their books or laptops and begin reading.

Before they know it, they find themselves literally baffled when they realize that instead of reading at 600 or 700 words per minute or faster, they’ve fallen back into their old habits.  They start regressing, or they start daydreaming, or they tune in to what’s going around them.  Sometimes, they’ve gotten so comfortable, they end up falling asleep!

Funny as it sounds, the situation is not all that funny.  Reverting to old reading habits is frustrating and worse, it can hinder all the progress you’ve worked so hard to achieve.

This kind of misunderstanding about speed reading happens all the time which is why I include a lesson about ergonomics in my speed reading workshops.

Speed Reading Tip #2 – Ergonomics is important

How many of you know what the word ergonomics means?

How many of you have ever heard of ergonomics?

I typically find that plenty of people have heard of the word.  But few really understand what ergonomics is all about and even fewer understand the role it plays in speed reading.

So let me explain.

Ergonomics is a science that deals with studying the proper “fit” between a workplace and the people who operate within that workplace.  The primary purpose of studying this fit is to design a working environment that maximizes the efficiency and productivity of the people working within that environment.

Besides increasing efficiency and productivity, proper ergonomic design helps reduce operator fatigue and discomfort.  It also plays an important role in reducing injury, especially the types of injuries that are caused by repetitive motion.

All sorts of things that people use can and should be ergonomically designed.  Chairs, desks, telephones, headsets, wrist rests, keyboards and mice, foot rests, tools, chair mats, and computer monitors are just a few examples of common ergonomically designed equipment.

In order for ergonomics to work, not only do you need the properly-designed equipment, it also needs to be set up so that your head, wrists, legs and other body parts don’t end up spending long hours in awkward positions.

I could go on for hours about ergonomics, the high costs of ignoring it and the countless benefits of proper ergonomic design.  But I’m not teaching about workplace safety; I’m teaching you about speed reading.

Video Version of Post

A Fast Reading Technique – Weed out the bad information

Next I want to talk about the digital information explosion and offer a technique you can use to help weed out the bad information from the good.  If you’ve ever done any online research, you probably know what I mean when I say there’s some good information out there but there’s also a lot of information that’s not so good.

That’s because anyone can publish any information on the Internet.  The information doesn’t have to be well researched.  It doesn’t have to be verified for correctness.  It doesn’t even have to be edited.

All that’s needed is a web site and someone to put it there.  And that can be a problem when you’re trying to find reliable information about whatever topic you’re searching.

So where do you start?

Most people start reading on the first search engine results page and work their way down the listings that appear on this page.  Most people never even make it to the second page of search engine results or beyond.

That’s not necessarily bad as long as you remember that a high search page rank doesn’t necessarily mean the information you’ll find on that site is accurate.  There are ways to get a web site ranked higher than the hundreds of others that might also maintain information about the same topic.

However, a high ranking doesn’t necessarily mean the information on a highly-ranked site is inaccurate, either.  That’s why you need to know what to look for.

Most important is to know whether the source of the information you are reading is dependable.  If it’s published by a government agency, a reputable educational institution, or a newspaper you’ve actually heard of before, the information is probably worth a closer look.

When you look more closely, check out the author to help determine whether he or she is credible.  An easy technique is by looking for information about the author’s background, credentials and/or affiliations.

You should also try to determine whether or not the author might be biased.  If you’re reading a story about a product that has a questionable track record or a lot of controversy surrounding it, and the story puts a positive spin on the product, there’s always a chance the author might not have objectively presented the facts.  If you find this to be the case, consider moving on.

Some other information you can find out simply from the page is whether or not the information presented is recent or recently revised.  You can also check to see whether the author lists sources, references, footnotes and any other information that can help substantiate and validate the information being presented.

Finally, take a look at what’s written and ask, “Does this even make sense?”  If the information is confusing, inconsistent, incomplete, or irrelevant, or if it contains grammatical and spelling errors, don’t waste any more time on it.  Move on until you find a more trustworthy source.

Once you find information you want to keep, make sure it’s saved in a way that’s organized and easily retrievable.  Most importantly, try to resist the temptation to print everything out.  Whether electronic or printed, nothing’s worse than being buried under a disorganized pile of papers!

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