SFH #64: Speed Reading and Listening

How I started learning faster in 2020 💨

Last year was my most accomplished learning year ever. I've always been interested in self-improvement and development, especially from the physiological side. In the previous five (5) years, I've accelerated the gas to learn about our central nervous (brain health) and limbic systems (emotional regulation). 🧠 🧐

First things first, we never stop learning, and it feels infinite and ever-growing to know how we operate in this world. That said, I want to continue to grow my knowledge and 'walk back the cat' to advance my understanding of our experiences.

When I stumbled onto Jim Kwik, the brain coach, I was quickly enthralled. He is a precise and systematic storyteller, and he has acronyms galore—my kind of flavor.🍦 I loved his content in particular because he had such easy ways to hack our behaviors and advanced our pursuits with more brainpower. Remember brushing your teeth with the opposite hand? That's him.

This week I bring you to his speeding reading techniques and my bonus speed listening tips.

Most of us only read as fast as we speak because of subvocalization. 👄 It's because sounding words out with letters is how teachers and parents generally taught us. We used the same technique with our 5-year-old, Henry. We never really grow out of the habit of the dialogue; we merely transfer it to inner dialogue unless we practice otherwise. This habit is why you see people mouthing words when they read as I'm doing now while I type. 😂

So the trick to speed reading is a series of habits that decrease the friction of sentence comprehension. Here are some simple and effective tips to try out.

  1. Use a finger, marker, or notecard*. The method helps move from saccadic movement to a smoother pursuit. 👀

  2. Word chunking allows you to focus on trying to read multiple words with one glance. You can still process and comprehend what you read AND spend far less time doing it. Speed reading websites like speeder can help you practice this technique. 🎳

  3. Read with intention. Set up your environment to consume your desired content, whether it's for learning or entertainment. Give yourself the gift of focus and develop habits around your ideal setting for comprehension. Do you do better with classical music in the background? Is there space and time where you won't be interrupted? 🎼

*The notecard helps you avoid the habit of rereading words on a page.

You can always practice these techniques and test your speed to see how much you are gaining. 🏆

Finally, the bonus. Speed listening.👂🏽

I was already listening to podcasts and audiobooks at 1.2x to 1.3x, and then I stumbled onto Ali Abdaal, and this video got me on track to 2x speed pretty consistently. It’s legit, it’s easy to enact. Watch and try out for yourself. 📺