10 Ways to Slow Your Reading Down and Eventually Stop It All Together

1. Read Every Word, Every Word

The best way to start slowing your reading down is by reading every word that’s presented. Make sure not to skip over the “the”s or the “a”s, because if you do, it’s only the beginning to increasing your reading speed. And that’s not what anybody wants. So, be sure to read every word that’s written, even if you think the author is repeating himself, you shouldn’t skip over those repetitions, because you will only be increasing reading speed. You read that right? Good, we’re off to a great start.

2. Re-read Every Word You Might Have Missed (And Re-read Every Word You Might Have Missed)

Did you miss anything in that first part, to be sure, you should probably go back and re-read it, and if you skipped over any words the first time, don’t do it this time. Remember, we’re trying to slow your reading down, and if you only read each word once then you’re only going to be reading that much faster in the long run. This will become easier over time, because more studies are showing that re-reading decreases comprehension making it easier to develop the habit of re-reading.

3. Don’t skip over the small words

This is a repetition of what was said in the first paragraph, and the author has been kind enough to repeat himself making it easier to read a small blog post in a longer amount of time. And in case you still have some of those bad habits lingering about, don’t forget to re-read this passage, and the passage before it, and don’t skip over the small words, or the things that are repeated, because you’ll only be increasing your reading speed. (See what I did? I repeated myself)

4. Don't Learn New Words

It’s great when you come to a big word in a text that you’ve never seen before, because it can serve as hours of distraction from reading the rest of the material. And if you took the time to look up the word, and learn what it meant, and how to say it properly, then the next time you saw the word it wouldn’t take you nearly as long to read, and then you’d be reading faster. Not good, not good at all. Instead pride yourself on the ignorance of words like “NEUMONO­ULTRA­MICRO­SCOPIC­SILICO­VOLCANO­CONIOSIS”. And don’t go looking it up, you only be able to say it faster the next time you see it.

5. Don't Grammar Learn

A little joke to illustrate my point that a firm grasp of English grammar leads to reading faster. Afterall, you don’t really need to know corrct spelling cuz peeple can under stand what ur saying even when u dont spell it rite and hoo needs periods or comas or thos silly squiggily lines and stuff its all just fluffff getting in the way of communcadoing with the world so toss em out i say toss em out.

6. When You Must Read, Turn On The TV

Sometimes we have to read to keep our jobs or for school, and so it’s best to read with the TV on with a show that’s much more engaging than your reading material. Something with explosions and music like “24”, it’s got plenty of action and suspense to keep you from really understanding what you have to read. This is perfect, because by constantly being distracted you’ll be forced to re-read, which will decrease your comprehension, causing you to re-read again and if you’re in luck there’ll be some big words in there to help you slow down.

7. Don’t Watch Films With Subtitles

I know I told you to watch TV, but be careful of what type of TV you watch because some it can have subtitles. And sometimes movies start out without subtitles only to be filled with them, later on, case in point: The Godfather, which switches over to subtitles while Pacino’s in Italy. There’s probably nothing worth seeing during those scenes anyway, and my advice is, if you can’t watch it dubbed then it isn’t worth watching.

8. Make Sure To Only Search for Videos and Images

When you must use the internet be careful only to use search engines that you can search for videos and images otherwise you’ll be reading and you’ll probably have to read a lot to find what you were looking for. Be careful.

9. In Fact, Just Stay Away From The Internet

The internet can seem like a place devoid of reading, with all the YouTubes and YouPorns and Flash Games and such, but it’s really only a disguise to get you to read more. Those videos and games can only be accessed or found through a series of queries and summaries, and the more you look, the more you’ll be reading, and then you’ll be reading faster. So just watch TV, it’s better because you don’t need to read to enjoy it.

10. To Be Safe, Just Stop Reading All Together

Every once in a while you may be tempted to read a book, or an article, or something, but I caution you DON’T. The more you read, the faster you read, it’s one of those weird facts of life that the more often you practice a skill the faster and more efficient you become at that skill. And in the case of reading, the more you read, the faster you’ll read, and that’s just going to make your life easier. And nobody wants that. God forbid, you might enjoy reading one book, you might read another, thereby doubling your reading speed, or more. And if you enjoyed reading, and read a lot, then who knows where that might lead.

I’m certain nothing good can come from knowing more than what you presently know, so there’s really no need to read anyway…


Leo Babauta, I love you dude, but your last post sucked.

A Little Backstory:

When I was younger, my group of friends and I developed our own brand of juvenile etiquette for disagreeing with one another. And so when you needed to tell your buddy something you didn't like about them you opened up the conversation with this phrase, "I love you dude, but…" then your criticism.


"I love you dude, but the peach-fuzz mustache is not cool, and it doesn’t look good."

If the comment was made in front of the group, an immediate voting on the criticism would ensue. The comment would either be ratified into fact, or vetoed, but most often it was ratified.


"Yeah man, the mustache needs to go. Everybody thinks so, that’s why we’re telling you."

Some may have seen these exchanges as insincere but within our group, opening up without with the line, "I love you dude" was a form of respect. Granted, it's not the most poetic term of endearment, but it allowed us to be honest with each other, without all the hurt feelings. And so you knew that your buddies were telling you something not because they hated you, but because they cared.

Now that we're caught up, there's something I'd like to say about Leo Babauta's post: "Why reading faster doesn't increase productivity".

"Leo, I love you dude; I'm a big fan of zen habits, read a lot of your articles, and I agree with many of your principles but... your last post sucked."


From Your Post:

"I think you should read slower, and focus on doing things slower. It increases your effectiveness, which is a different definition of productivity than 'doing things faster'."

If I understand you correctly, you're saying that focused slower reading increases a person's ability to effectively comprehend the text their reading.

I disagree. In terms of a person's reading rate, there's quite a lot of research that points to the opposite.


Lori Nunez's dissertation: An Analysis Of The Relationship Of Reading Fluency, Comprehension, And Word Recognition To Student Achievement (May 2009). Her dissertation looked at statewide elementary students in Texas and analyzed various methods for developing reading skills.

In the conclusion, Nunez wrote:

"Consistent with the findings of previous research (Allen, 1988; Buchanan, 2006; Flindt, 2007; Stroud & Henderson, 1943) and the National Reading Panel's identification of key reading components, the study confirmed that early development of reading fluency, comprehension, and word recognition do impact reading performance of students by the middle elementary grades. The results of the data analysis revealed that reading fluency, the number of words read per minute, had the strongest relationship with scores on the third grade reading TAKS. ...It would appear that fluency, the speed and accuracy of words read, contributed to comprehension and understanding of the material read, and ultimately to success on the reading assessment."


"In the study, the skill of reading fluency had the strongest relationship and made the greatest contribution to reading TAKS scale scores. The findings of the study supported Rasinski's (2001) argument that the rate a reader reads is significantly correlated to the standardized and informal measurements of comprehension and word recognition."


From Your Post:

"productivity isn't about speed, even if we've been led to believe it is. It's about being effective. It's about accomplishing things -- and that's about doing the most important things, not the most things."

I disagree.

"Productivity is from 1809 with meaning 'quality of being productive;' economic sense of 'rate of output per unit' is from 1899."

Reference:productivity. (n.d.). Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved December 02, 2009, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/productivity

The two words that stand out for me are the words "quality" and "rate", and the word "rate" is most definitely associated with speed.


From Your Post:

"When we speed through tasks and projects, we lose perspective. We forget what's important and just try to do things as fast as possible."

Your quote makes the assumption that when a person does something faster, they sacrifice their effectiveness.

 What about firefighters? Or paramedics? Or doctors?

The rate at which these people do their jobs can determine whether someone else lives or dies, or many people live or die. I think "speed" can have a lot to do with a person's "effectiveness" in the world around them. Firefighters don't rush into a burning building to try to save the most important people; they try to save everyone they possibly can in the time they have.

This not only pertains to the lives of people, but also in people's careers and the lives of companies, in which a person's speed can be determining factor in whether they get to keep their job.


From Your Post:

"If reading is important, focus on it, and do it slowly. It'll be that much more enjoyable, and so will the project. And when you absolutely love what you're doing, then productivity is a natural by-product."

If I follow your argument here correctly, you're saying, "If I want to read something that is important to me, the rate at which I read it corresponds to the level of enjoyment I’ll receive from reading it."

I agree that certain texts can be more enjoyable when read slowly, but I disagree that all of the texts that are important to us need to be read this way. I believe, and research shows, there are more factors in the process of translating text into meaning than just voicing the words on the page. The process of visual interpretation of text into meaning is an extremely fast process, and your statement concludes that this method, while fast, will lessen my enjoyment of reading the text.


Lastly, From Your Post:

"Slow down, don't speed up. Read slower -- you'll read less, but enjoy it more."

What I don't agree with in this statement, is the assumption that text should be read at one speed. A person can enjoy a fast paced action sequence in an old dime novel reading 400wpm, and then slow down to 150 wpm when detective is explaining how he figured out who the killer was. The reader can read fast and slow throughout the book without losing joy in the text they’re reading.

I was a slow reader for quite some time, and even though reading was important to me, reading slow did not make reading more enjoyable. In fact, quite the opposite.

I don't think I'm alone on this, but maybe I am… I’ve found the more I read, the more I enjoy reading.

We only have a short time in this life, and my approach to reading is much like that fireman running into a burning building. There's too many great things to read in this world that to read them all would take several lifetimes, I'd like to enjoy reading as many of them as possible before my time's up.

Leo, I love you dude, but your last post sucked.



Kris Madden

Readspeeder: Comments from DailyBlogTricks

Today, there was an online conversation between myself and the creator of the software program "readspeeder". Thus far, this was his comment in response to my "Learn to Speed Read" video. I will post updates, if any follow:

  1. Dave on September 24th, 2009 11:27 pm

    Vocalization is not a bad habit!

    It is a common habit to vocalize, or at least sub-vocalize while reading. This practice will prevent you from reading any faster than you can say the words. But vocalizing isn’t really just a habit. It actually does help you understand what you read. Sentences are usually made of multiple phrases. Each phrase is an idea, or a separate thought. When you hear a sentence spoken, there are sound clues that indicate these phrases. You may not be aware of it because it’s as subconscious as walking, but listen carefully to the previous sentence when it’s divided into phrases…

    When you hear — a sentence spoken, — there are sound clues — that indicate — these phrases.

    If you listen carefully to the spoken words, you will notice that the first word of each phrase is spoken in a lower pitch, like a lower musical note. Lowering our pitch indicates to the listener that this is the next thought being presented and this makes our spoken sentences easier for the listener to understand. This lower pitch tells the listener that a new part of the sentence is coming. But these audio clues are not available in written text, and so we have a tendency to sound out the words to listen for them ourselves.

    There is a free online application which will take any text and convert it into its natural phrases. It will then display these phrases one after the other at your control or automatically with an adjustable speed control. Go to http://www.ReadSpeeder.com and try it out.

    Although there is often more than one way to break a sentence into phrases, ReadSpeeder’s patent-pending process does a good job of quickly finding the natural, meaningful phrases. When the sentence is presented to you in this way, you no longer need to internally sound out the sentences. You will instantly grasp the meaning of each phrase at a glance, just like you grasp the meaning of words at a glance, without thinking of each letter. Faster understanding will lead to faster reading. This method is really the opposite of most attempts to read faster. The usual advice is to push your reading speed, and try to maintain comprehension, with the hope that, with practice, the comprehension will improve. With ReadSpeeder, you understand faster to begin with. Use ReadSpeeder and no longer will you be restricted to reading at the speed of speech. You will be reading at the speed of thought.

    If you have any questions, you can write me at dbutler@readspeeder.com

  2. Kris Madden on September 25th, 2009 12:07 pm

    I have to say that I disagree with your line:

    “But vocalizing isn’t really just a habit. It actually does help you understand what you read.”

    But research continues to show that sub-vocalized reading does not increase comprehension. This is dating back to 1900 with:

    Secor, W. B. (1900). Visual Reading: A Study in Mental Imagery. The American Journal of Psychology, 11(2), 225-236.

    And the computer program “read speeder” is built to eliminate subvocalization through pushing the larynx to say things faster than it physically can, which then allows the eyes to begin taking in information. So, I don’t understand why you would make a case for subvocalization, when your product helps to eliminate it.

    Personally, I think the computer program is neat because it has a nice chunking feature for beginners, but once you’re reading above 800-1000 words, the feature becomes relatively useless.

  3. Dave on September 25th, 2009 1:30 pm

    Thanks for your reply Kris. I suppose you’re right that ReadSpeeder is primarily for beginners. I can see your point that it would be much less useful for those reading over 800 wpm.

    I am not familiar with that 1900 study, but wouldn’t you agree that when you read a difficult passage, you naturally go back and vocalize it to better understand the meaning? Most people read in the 200 wpm range, and they tend to vocalize everything for this same reason.

    I look at it this way. We’ve had spoken language way longer than printed language, and therefore are much better at communicating with the spoken word. The spoken word has lots of additional information in the form of pitch, volume, and rhythm, which is missing in text. Sounding out the text is an attempt to replace this information. Compared to the spoken word, text is like watching a video in black and white, with low resolution, and poor sound.

    Now, if you are referring to ‘chunking’ as simply groups of words, I would not see much benefit to ReadSpeeder other than just pushing you to read faster. But what makes ReadSpeeder work is that it actually finds the natural, meaningful phrases. This is what makes the reading easier to understand; each phrase is a separate idea, and can be instantly recognized without thinking of the separate words.

    I’m not trying to make the case or vocalization. Vocalization restricts your reading speed. But if the reader is presented a complete, meaningful phrase, they will not *need* to vocalize. The meaning of the phrase can be instantly grasped in the same way the meaning of a word can be understood without being consciously aware of the individual letters.

    Anyway, it’s interesting to hear from someone with an interest and knowledge in this topic. Your comments indicate to me that http://www.readspeeder.com needs to improve its descriptions and explanations. If you have any suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again for you comments.


  4. Kris Madden on September 25th, 2009 4:34 pm

    In constructing my responses, I have written a dialogue of sorts between Dave and myself to better organize my thoughts on Dave’s comments and software:

    Dave: “Wouldn’t you agree that when you read a difficult passage, you naturally go back and vocalize it to better understand the meaning?”

    Kris Madden: No, I don’t agree. More and more research points to the fact that re-reading hinders comprehension. Are you familiar with psychology professor, Mark A. McDaniel, research?

    The following is from The Chronicle of Higher Education (http://chronicle.com/article/C.....ite/31819):

    “Don’t Reread
    A central idea of Mr. McDaniel’s work, which appears in the April issue of Psychological Science and the January issue of Contemporary Educational Psychology, is that it is generally a mistake to read and reread a textbook passage. That strategy feels intuitively right to many students — but it’s much less effective than active recall, and it can give rise to a false sense of confidence.”
    Dave: “We’ve had spoken language way longer than printed language, and therefore are much better at communicating with the spoken word.”

    Kris Madden: To judge a system of communication based on the length of its history, reduces the importance of developing new ways of communicating with one another. It’s like saying, “We’ve ridden horses longer than we’ve driven cars, or flown airplanes, therefore it’s much better to travel by horse.” Or, “We’ve driven combustion engine cars for longer than hybrids, therefore combustion engine cars are better for travel.”

    Dave: “Compared to the spoken word, text is like watching a video in black and white, with low resolution, and poor sound.”

    Kris Madden: Comparing the quality of text versus speech, seems to remove the beauty of Helen Keller’s writing and suggests that the written word is an inferior form of communication. I think speech and text both have significant qualities to offer in means of communication, which is why the world still writes and talks, because we need both. I’ve stayed up late reading books that captivated my imagination and at the same time read books that put me to sleep. And I’ve listened to speeches that inspired me, and others that bored that produced less than a “black and white, with low resolution, and poor sound.”

    Dave: “But what makes ReadSpeeder work is that it actually finds the natural, meaningful phrases.”

    Kris Madden: Using “read speeder”, with the book “A Christmas Carol”, the program divides the line: “… and Scrooge’s name was good upon ‘Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to.” into”

    “And Scrooge’s name”
    “Was good upon”
    “for anything he chose”
    “to put his hand to.”

    To me, it seems like Dickens already divided the line into meaningful phrases using commas. The program seems to only subdivide the Dickens’ original phrasing into the way the computer thinks it should be divided. For a computer to rephrase Dickens, seems presumptuous in my mind.

    From Dave’s webpage: “Today, typing and email are so much faster than the old methods of hand-writing and postal-mail. Why should reading still be slow?”

    Kris Madden: I agree, “Why should reading still be slow?” I don’t think having a computer divide text into smaller “meaningful phrases” is the key to accelerating a person’s reading speed and comprehension. I think there are more internal factors to take into account than external in development of a person’s reading capabilities. 

  5. Dave on September 25th, 2009 5:25 pm

Thank you Kris. You’ve been very generous with your reply. I see exactly what you mean in each or your responses. I think that perhaps I have not made my point as clearly as you have.

But thank you very much anyway. And thank you for trying ReadSpeeder and giving it your careful consideration.