The fast-paced evolution of technology in the modern workplace has made constant learning vital while, at the same time, making emails and work chat so intrusive and ubiquitous that there’s little time left to read those bibles of industry that you know you’d benefit from.
It’s a catch-22… but it doesn’t have to be.
The need for more convenient, condensed education is being answered by innovative Edtech, speed learning ‘hacks’ and smarter ways of cutting to the chase, all of which I’ll cover in this article. With that said, let’s cut to the chase.
Strategy 1: Go from Slow Plodder to Speed Reader in a Matter of Weeks
I’ll say first up that doing something quickly doesn’t necessarily mean it’s done right, but when it comes to the way we read, most of us can benefit from a few extra words per minute.
Have you ever read an page in a book more than once just to understand its content? Do you find yourself wasting time trying to make sense of what’s written instead of taking in the important knowledge? If the answer’s yes, you’re like most people. This is why we need to learn the skill of speed reading.
Edtech has come to the rescue. Here are some of the best speed reading apps:
Reedy is an Android app and Chrome extension that breaks down a piece of text, whether in a form of a site, ebook, or word document into word per word flashes that you read on your phone’s screen. By adjusting the rate of flashes per minute, you’re able to train your eyes to recognize words faster than you normally would.
Outread is similar to Reedy, but on the IOS. Like Reedy, it features the same word flash concept as well as the ability to open documents, ebooks, and web pages from the reader itself.
Spreed is another Google Chrome extension that allows you to transform any text on a website into a speed reading module.
Ready for the next level?
When you reach the point where you want to take it up a notch and not depend on an app for your reading, you can learn from a more intensive trainer app such as:
1. Reading Trainer
Reading Trainer is an android app that teaches you different ways on how to develop an eye for speed reading. It features a game-like learning interface that’s made of 12 different training exercises you can master.
2. Acceleread Speed Reading Trainer
Acceleread Speed Reading Trainer is the most comprehensive training course for the iOS. It’s full of features like stats, a reading library and training modules which make it a worthy app for those serious about learning how to speed read.
Strategy 2: Absorb the Key Takeaways from Books and Skip the Filler
Most of the information around us tends to be too extensive to absorb quickly, even with our new speed-reading powers. The truth is that books tend to be 80% anecdotes and reasoning, and only 20% key information. So what if we could extract that 20% and skip the rest?
This is exactly what’s being advocated by more and more experts. The most prominent proponent being Tai Lopez, a business coach and entrepreneur who even did a Tedx talk on the benefits of reading a book a day using a system he’s devised to get straight to the key takeaways.
The good news is that there are also apps out there that do this work for us.
The leading app in this category is Blinkist which condenses full-length nonfiction books into bite-sized insights in the form of audio or text. This makes it a lot easier to read up on subjects ranging from history, self-development, and even marketing. The audio option makes it ideal for long commutes and even learning while working out.
If you’d rather consume full length books than summaries but still like the idea of learning during your commute to work then full audio-books are the answer. Check out Audible by Amazon if that’s the way you want to go.
Exceptions to the two strategies
Unfortunately these two strategies don’t work in all cases. If you wish to study a tertiary level course then it’s unlikely that Blinkist is going to have summaries of your textbooks or that Audible will offer your course notes narrated by Stephen Fry, as awesome as that would be!
So how do you speed up tertiary study at University?
Well, you simply don’t go to University.
No, I’m not advocating skipping the qualification, I’m advocating distance learning, which has come on leaps and bounds in recent years and is now a far cry from the ‘correspondence’ type degrees of yesteryear.
Suffice it to say that the range of courses is becoming quite comprehensive, from your standard degree in business administration, all the way to something as specific as a degree in criminal justice. If you study via distance learning you are able to cut out the wasted time that usually comes with University study and focus on the actual learning.
I will throw in one last rapid-reading tip here though…
Robot reader apps have also come on leaps and bounds and, while they might not yet be Stephen Fry, they are capable of reading your textbooks out to you while you drive to work or are on the train (imagine Siri reading a book).
Yes, it takes a little extra brainpower to get past the mistakes the robots sometimes make, but it’s still a great way to utilise that wasted 30 minutes a day. Masters mastered.