Knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have on a subject, the more you can succeed in that area.
Before I got into Personal Development, I hated reading books. This stemmed from having to read books that I had no interest in in high school. But after reading The Game by Neil Strauss a few years ago, I got hooked! I finally found a subject I enjoyed. There was only one problem. Because I hadn't read since high school, I was the slowest reader. It literally took me 12 months to get through The Game.
Recently however, I've been on a journey of learning how to read faster and it's been amazing! So I'd love to share 9 hacks that can help you read faster.
1. Be a gold miner
My whole life I thought a book had to be read from cover to cover, word for word. This is how I was taught and I didn't think there was any other way. However, recently I've learned that it's so much more effective to just extract the applicable knowledge you need from a certain book. A great metaphor for this is taking on the mentality of a gold miner, looking for those nuggets of gold and leaving the rest aside.
For example, when I started doing this I picked up Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers. I didn't read the book cover to cover, word for word. I extracted the important parts only.
So how do you do this? Well, firstly, just reading the title tells you what the whole book is about. You could take that title and start implementing it straight away. So next time you feel fear about something, you know to just do it anyway.
Secondly, I read the blurb and table of contents to get a bigger picture overview of the book. Then I skimmed through the book highlighting the parts that look interesting to me so I can come back to them later. Of course, there was plenty in the book that I already understood so I didn't have to read certain parts in detail.
After I skimmed the entire book, I went back to the front and did it again but slower this time. I put a little bit more attention to what was in the book with a “gold miner” mentality looking for valuable principles I can apply straight away.
Then I read the book a third time, this time reading the parts I didn't understand fully the first and second time, but in more detail.
2. Start each chapter by first reading the conclusion
This is an important part of reading a book fast. Most books have a summary in the conclusion of each chapter, covering everything you would have learned in it. So it just makes sense to start there. That way when you skim through each chapter, you'll know you're looking for those gold nuggets related to the summary points. It's like you're setting the GPS in your mind to specifically direct you to the most important information in that chapter.
3. Most books have 1-3 most important principles
I've learned that most books have 1 to 3 extremely valuable principles. So when you pick up a new book, your purpose should be to extract those 1 to 3 principles so you can apply them straight away to get results as fast as possible.
Very often people get caught up trying to extract a million principles from one book and when they've finished reading they only ever remember and implement a couple of them – usually the most valuable ones.
So my recommendation is to be a gold miner and get those 1-3 most valuable principles, apply them into your life, and move onto the next book.
4. Books have a lot of fluff to make them saleable
Have you noticed how usually one chapter only resolves around one specific principle, yet the chapter is really long with dozens of examples of that same principle? The reason for this is to make the book bigger so when you pick it up, your perception will be that the book is super valuable so you buy it.
If each chapter explained the principle and only one or two examples, that book would be really small and not as many people would buy it. The published wants there to be a lot of fluff in order to make the book look bigger so they can make more sales.
However, using these hacks will allow you to get what you need faster, without reading too much of the useless additional content.
5. The best stuff is in the first 1-3 chapters
Have you ever picked up a book, it was exciting but after about 3 chapters it got boring and you put it down? There's two reasons for that, in my opinion.
Reason 1. You're lazy haha
Reason 2. Most books have the most valuable and exciting content at the front of the book. Again, published do this because if the beginning is exciting, you're more likely to read the entire book and recommend it to others. Now, imagine if this was back to front – the beginning of the book had the least exciting content and the end of the book had the best, most valuable stuff. Well, for one, you wouldn't get past the first chapter and, two, you won't be recommending that book to anyone.
So how can you use this to your advantage? As per hack #3, the 1-3 most valuable principles are more likely to be in the first 1-3 chapters. So mine those gold nuggets, implement them and move on to the next book.
6. Who will succeed faster?
Here's a question for you.
If John reads one entire book cover to cover per month and implements the 1-3 main principles; and Sarah, using these hack, reads 1 book per day, getting through 31 books in a month and implements the 1-3 main principles from every book, who do you think will succeed faster?
You got it – Sarah of course! Do you see the power of implementing these hacks into your reading life?
7. But then you'll never actually be reading a book?
If you're asking this question, it's probably because you've been so conditioned to reading only one way, and you probably care about what others will think of you. What's more important to you: being accepted by others because you're reading an entire book cover to cover like everyone else? Or using these hacks to create extraordinary results in a shorter period of time?
The purpose of knowledge is to get results, not to feel “normal” because you're doing it the same way everyone else is.
8. See books as reference guides
The most important part of all this is to start looking at books as reference guides. As explained, you don't need to read a whole book cover to cover to learn the solution to your problem. And if you're in a place where you need some guidance, get the appropriate book out, go through what you've highlighted, and maybe read some more of it, until you find the solution to your problem.
I haven't read Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway cover to cover, but when I'm feeling uncomfortable about making a decision or fearful of a certain situation, I'll skim through the book, look at my highlighted areas and notes, and very fast I'll feel better as I'll have found the solution to my problem – usually within 5 minutes.
9. There will be books you'll want to read cover to cover
This one is common sense! I like reading biographies cover to cover because they tell a story and I enjoy stories (don't we all) – the experience becomes a big part of it. So there's going to be books you'll definitely want to read in it's entirety. For example, if you pick up Think & Grow Rich for the first time I'd recommend to read it cover to cover as it's packed with valuable knowledge. After you've read it in it's entirety once (or twice), you can use it as a reference guide.
With fiction books, of course you'll want to read them cover to cover. Fiction books are for entertainment purposes and if you skim through them, you won't enjoy them!
I hope you find these hacks super valuable! I know I certainly have and it feels amazing not having to spend a whole month reading just one book. In fact, the more you practice these hacks the faster you'll get at “mining gold”. You'll even be able to get to the point where you can read a book in 1 hour. How cool is that? I haven't got there yet though. My record has been 1 book in 2 hours. Still a pretty cool result compared to reading The Game in 12 months haha.
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