“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”
Written by: Scott Dinsmore
Average Read Time: 3.5 Minutes (1 minute if you were using these tools…)
Who wants to read a bit faster? Stupid question, I know. Well then let’s do something about it.
All of us read online. While nothing beats the distraction-free paper book when it comes to reading experience, there’s no question that the screen is taking over. And distractions are everything but impossible to avoid: email, ads, surfing, Facebook, Twitter.
We need to get focused. With focus comes efficiency.
Over the past two years of teaching speed reading to students and businessmen, I’ve found some killer online tools that actually work. They will get you focused and you’ll read more in less time.
6 Free Tools for Speed Reading Anything 2-3x Faster Online
1. RSVP Reader for Firefox. My favorite tool. This alone will likely double or triple your speed. A plugin that allows you to read what’s on the page by flashing chunks of words in your toolbar. You can control how many words you see and the speed of the text. Perfect for practice or everyday reading. Set the speed higher than you’re comfortable with for a little training exercise.
While using your hand or pen as a guide is crucial for speed reading paper text, it’s challenging online. This reader serves as a guide/pacer without your finger greasing up your screen. The only downfall is it won’t work for reading emails with most services. There are similar but less powerful versions such as Reasy, for Chrome and other browsers. Here’s more on RSVP Readers. Demo video here.
2. Spreeder. Same concept as RSVP Reader but with this one you copy and paste the text into a window on their webpage. It then flashes words in a similar format and you can control the speed, length, etc. Lot’s of great options. Awesome for PDF’s, Word docs or long emails since the RSVP Reader doesn’t support those.
3. Readability. So simple yet so necessary. This is a bookmarklet that converts any web page into a plain black and white nicely formatted presentation of the text. No links, no ads, no distractions. Pure blissful focus. You can adjust just about everything under the sun but the settings right out of the box seem perfect for me. There is a lot of brain power and research behind ideal online reading format that went into this one.
4. Quick Reader for iPhone and iPad. Search for ‘speed reading’ in the Apple App Store and there’s way too much to handle. We tested every one and this is far and away the best. The founder is super passionate about reading too. It offers speed reading practice, drills, tests and general reading. Best way I’ve found to practice and improve on the go. Comes with a handfull of pre downloaded books (some are acutally cool) and connects with Project Gutenberg for a ton more titles. The functionality of this one blows my mind. And best of all, it’s a ton of fun to use. Free version gives you plenty and the paid one is only $4.99.
5. Read it Later. You ever notice at the end of the day you have a browser with 50 tabs open to all the articles and blogs you came across that you wanted to read? I do. But you don’t want to bookmark them because you only need to read each one once. This solves it. It’s a bookmarklet that hangs out in your toolbar. Every time you come across a sexy article worth saving, click a little check mark and it’s added to your reading queue up in the cloud. Revisit the queue at any time to read one of your articles. Once you’re done reading, it disappears from the list.
The best part of it…There’re apps for just about every mobile device including iPad and iPhone and they all automatically sync so you can pull up your reading list anywhere, even without an internet connect. So sweet! Much more efficient than reading articles throughout the whole day. Batch your reading and get productive.
6. Google Reader. This one’s probably obvious to most. Super simple RSS reader. Keeps clutter out of your inbox. Constantly updates your favorite news articles, blogs, etc. with everything in one place. Check it out.
The Power of Focus
The biggest characteristic of doing anything well, whether it’s ripping through a book at warp speed or shaving 2 minutes off your marathon time, is Focus. A simple concept but one that’s getting harder and harder to experience.
All these tools really do is make it easier to focus. They throw the distractions out the window and get you to drill down to the important. I have no doubt that if you begin to use any one of these, let alone the combo of how they can work together, your online reading rate will go through the roof. 2-3x or more wouldn’t be surprising.
Other tips for concentrated reading:
- Do it first thing in the morning
- Stay present
- Use your hand or pen as a guide
- Turn on airplane mode and disconnect
- Sit upright
- Be alone
Editor’s Note: I’ve since wrote an article strictly dedicated to Focus – 11 Steps to Insane Focus: Do More of What Matters.
Being able to crush through my books and articles gave me a new found excitement for reading. It’s an excitement that can change your life. It’s why this site exists. It’s why I’m an entrepreneur. It’s why I see the world the way I do.
If you are dedicated to a life worth living, then reading and learning is not an option. It’s a daily requirement.
So get focused, use these tools and start digesting the sweet brain nectar like never before.
What are your best tricks for tearing through books and articles? What helps you focus? Please join the conversation in the comments section below. Even a few words or one sentence goes a long way.
Other Resources to Help You Along the Way:
In-Person Iris Speed Reading Courses (mention this site and you’ll get a discount)