Productivity Tip #4: Learn to read faster

Productivity Tip #4: Learn to read faster

Posted on December 3, 2010

Warren Buffett once said in an interview that the only thing he envies about Bill Gates was Bill Gates ability to read lot faster than him.  He went on to say that it would have saved him so much of time if he had developed the ability to read faster.  Some of you may be thinking what does it have to do with me.  I don’t read books that much and so I don’t need to learn to read faster.  Hold on.  Let me give you a new perspective.

How much do you read?

A knowledge worker spends considerable amount of time reading e-mail, online news, blogs, etc.,  I get 200 e-mails per day and the industry standard is 150 e-mails on an average.  An e-mail can range from one-line to 100 lines (if there is an e-mail chain that you get copied on at the end).  Lets say on an average you get 150 e-mails of which the average is 10 lines.  150 X 10 lines per e-mail X 10 words per line = 15000 words/day.  In a typical work week that is 15000 X 5 = 75000 which translates to approximately 200 page book.  So, every week you are reading a 200 page book if you are only reading e-mail and nothing else.

How much time do you spend reading?

If you are reading e-mail for an hour then by doubling your reading speed you can save 30 minutes per day.  Most folks do spend more than one hour reading their e-mail due to the amount of e-mail they get.  If you are reading news or official documents then you are spending more than an hour on reading.  On an average a typical office worker spends at least 4 hrs in front of the computer screen reading something.  So, just imagine the potential savings if you learnt to read faster.

How do you increase your reading speed?

I thought I learnt all about speed reading in my college days but when I saw this interview, I was curious to find out about my reading speed and to see if I can improve.  So, I got a book that was highly recommended by Josh Kaufman who blogs on Personal MBA.  This book “10 days to Faster Reading”  has helped me increase my reading speed from 400 WPM to 800 WPM retaining the same comprehension.  It has not only taught me to read faster but also made me realize that I need to understand why I am reading before I even read anything.  Last week I finished the book “Bit Literacy” by Mark Hurst a 180-page book in 2 hours straight.  I definitely did not read word by word and skipped many pages because I was very familiar with the content  This was possible because of the techniques that I learnt from “10 days to Faster Reading” .


Since you cannot get away from reading in some form or the another, isn’t it better to learn to read faster?

Has this post motivated you to learn to read faster?

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  • Reply Yuga December 12, 2010 at 4:43 am

    Really informative! Link please?

    Comments section should be at the end of post I guess.

    • Reply Shakeel Akhtar December 12, 2010 at 8:33 am

      Yuga, thanks for the comment. What is the link that you want?

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