Ever since elementary school we were forced to read one word at a time, this behaviour has seriously affected our reading speed to such an extent that many people cannot read faster than 2000 words per minute. Attempts to read faster than this limit results in lesser comprehension.
Add that to subvocalization, of saying the words out as you read and the reading speed gets even lower.
My personal story of how I discovered photo reading is as follows. Due to the enormous amount of information I have to keep up with as Computer programmer, Writer, Blogger, Currency trader and Scientist I had to find faster methods of absorbing all the information I need to stay relevant in my fields. I ventured into speed reading but found it very unappealing due to the fact that I do not comprehend much after I have gone through the material. So for some time I remained disappointed and got extremely anxious anytime I remembered the amount of code and words that I had to somehow digest.
Accidentally on one of my wild ventures exploring information online I discovered Photo Reading. Doubting its efficacy the first time I saw the title of the material, I still decided to pass time following the instructions detailed to read the material itself. What happened was shocking. It is just a week after I read that material and I understand what I read sufficiently to be doing this blogpost today, even though I could have done it immediately after I read the material because my comprehension was so complete.
Although the material was more detailed but not very bulky, I would save you much of the stories and go straight to the meat of the matter on how you could photo read you materials. You will be amazed at how much comprehension and speed you will achieve when doing your studies.
Here goes the method:
This is my own personal adaptation of the method that has enabled me go through about 5 whole books in a week's time that would normally take months to finish.
1. Preview: Never start reading a book without previewing it first. Preview requires reading the entire table of content, Chapter titles and sub-titles. You must not spend too much time previewing or else it will not be previewing. There is always the temptation to read more details while previewing, but you must resist and just make sure you go through the material looking at everything that stands out. Boxes or footnotes may not be included and also try to speedily glance through the index. After Previewing, take a note of about 25 words that jumped out at you while going through the material, you should write them down from memory. Try your best and stop when you know that you have exhausted yourself.
2. Photo Reading: In this stage you go back to the beginning of the book, relax, if you're using a computer, look for your page down button or if its a physical book just get ready to start flipping pages. Tune in to your peripheral vision, making sure the entire edge of the pages, the white side of the book is visible. You may not be able to read the text when in this eye posture but don't worry, conscious absorption of information is not what you are doing now, you are trying to absorb information in the subconscious parts of your brain, that part of your brain that constantly works behind the scenes to get you familiar with a subject. When you are ready, start flipping the pages at a rate of 1 second per flip, keeping your eyes steady and relaxed. Make sure your breathing is regular. After photo reading a book you should wait for 24 hours before going to the Stage of activation.
3. Post Viewing: I personally recommend this if the book is big and complex, in this stage you will start from the beginning of the book and read all boxes, summaries, image captions and even study the images or charts. You may not understand much of what you see but understanding is not what we are trying to do here. We are trying to build as much familiarity with the material as possible which will aid in our comprehension in later stages. Just suspend judgement or trying to be right and just have fun with the material. I usually do the post viewing stage immediately after photo reading before I proceed to activation.
4. Activation: After 24 hours of photo reading and post viewing the material we must bring the material to mind again. In activating we ask ourselves questions about the material. Anything thing that came up after you read the material. Many books are not worth reading after previewing because you may find out that you did not find any information that you could apply to your life. Application is the watchword for study. what can you apply in your life at the moment. Maybe you could keep the book for reference later. Maybe you are interested in getting the details of only some topic, perhaps you are familiar with others. You must be creative with this exercise and trust your intuition to guide the way. If you find that you may need to absorb the entire material in full details because every part is essential to you, maybe you are prepping for an examination then you can now decide what path to take.
5 Speed reading: If you find out that you need further information from the material, then you should speed read it first. This is involves rapidly moving through the text like an investigative detective to get at the exact information that has a higher priority than others. With this method you do not overload your conscious mind with information and build the information in layers within your brain. The entire photoreading method is about increasing your brains ability to predict the next information or idea so that it can comprehend better. So you build some abstract map of the entire material by making multiple passes through it and proceed in the later stages to fill it in.
6. Rapid reading: If you are not satisfied with the mastery of the material, you can then enter the rapid reading stage, here you go through the information speedily, and in more detail than the speed reading stage. You read the entire material rapidly because by now you have gone through the material several times and built sufficient familiarity that you can navigate the material in a non-linear manner, skipping parts that you have grabbed or found irrelevant and concentrating on the difficult areas.
This is the essence of the method. A google search will open links to many resources that will enable you master the method further.
The key to the method is not getting in too deep too quickly. Build the details later get the overview now. With this method, I am moving at almost a book a day and I am more confident than ever. Usually it would take me a month of old school linear reading to gain the confidence I have now to write an article about something, but now I am doing it just a few days afterwards. If it will be of any help I went through about 1900 pages of text in two days of constant concentration, I had read a 1350 page book in about 4 months previously so you do the comparison.
I also found out that photo-reading multiple books on the same topic gave me that feeling of being an expert.