Habits. We all have them. Some habits are good, like getting to work or class on time. And some are not so good, like procrastination and not wearing a seatbelt.
For the next few minutes, I’m going to talk about reading habits. When it comes to reading habits, it’s important to understand that they’re neither good nor bad. They’re not something you should feel ashamed or embarrassed about having, either. What’s most important is to understand that reading habits exist and that you, along with most readers, probably practice some of the most common ones.
Even though they’re neither good nor bad, reading habits developed long ago can cause you to read more slowly than you could if they weren’t standing in your way. Old reading habits tend to interfere with your concentration so you waste time re-reading material. Old reading habits can also cause you to tire more easily and become bored.
If you want to make room for the new techniques I’ll be teaching later on, you will need to break your old reading habits. But before you can break them, you need to know what they are and how they developed.
Like I already said, most readers developed their current reading habits back when they were very young. For most of them, that was about the same time they last learned how to read.
Do you remember the last time you learned how to read? How many of you even think about the last time you learned how to read? Even though I can’t see you, I’ll bet many of you didn’t raise your hands. Since most of us take our ability to read for granted, when we first learned, isn’t something we usually think about. So, was it last week? Was it last month? No! It was much longer than that.
Chances are you were taught how to read in the first grade, or maybe the second or third. But whatever the grade, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that besides being the first time in your life you learned to read, grade school was probably the only time in your life that you ever learned how to read.
Think about it. Once you could read those picture-filled children’s books that had about two sentences per page and about three to five words per sentence, that was basically it. Your teacher was satisfied that you knew how to read.
Reading wasn’t like the other subjects you studied in school. As you advanced to each higher grade level, you learned more about core subjects like math and history. But that didn’t really happen with reading. You learned what you learned during the grade in which you were first taught to read, and since then there probably hasn’t been any more instruction.
So now here you are, fully grown, trying to read really thick college textbooks and business proposals and trade magazines full of technical jargon. And you’re reading this stuff using the same basic skills you were taught the first time and the only time you learned how to read! No wonder reading doesn’t excite you!
Being here tells me a lot of things about you. It tells me that you acknowledge your reading speed isn’t where you’d like it to be. It tells me that you realize your current reading skills are holding back from the goals you’re trying to achieve. And it tells me that you’re ready to break old reading habits and replace them with new ones.
In order to do that, you need to know what those reading habits are that prevent you from reading to your full potential. As I said before, these habits aren’t bad; however they do need to be broken.
Here are the most common habits that interfere with a reader’s ability to read faster and with better comprehension:
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