Articles from
Ed Caldwell.

Speed Reading Tips: How to Overcome Your Mind Wandering

What good is it to spend time reading, when reading “speedily” or not, if after your eyes have moved through the material, you discover you have not comprehended the material simply because your mind has decided to take a vacation?

The “always-on” electronic information rich and interconnected culture we live in, challenges  our ability to focus and concentrate. Focusing is an extremely essential trait that few people can claim is not a problem for them, whether reading, or not. Concentration becomes even more difficult when learning to speed read.

When learning to speed read, one of the tough habits to overcome is mind-wandering. Slow readers are often crippled in their ability to comprehend, or understand the material in front of them.  Other inefficient habits like focusing on individual words, makes it harder to grasp the larger meaning. Even readers who comprehend well face challenges of mind wandering when they first learn speed reading skills because they are focusing on how the eyes are moving. However, without the focus on meanings, comprehension will always remain elusive.

Here are 6 things you can do differently:

1. Get plenty of rest. Without enough sleep, the brain  goes into overload more easily. Trying to learn these perceptually challenging skills when fatigued will be a waste of time.

2. Use proper fuel. Your brain needs certain nutrients in order to create the biochemistry needed for learning. Loading up on sugar and caffeine as well as ingesting large amounts of fats and empty calories from processed foods starves your brain of necessary nutrients. Feed your brain with high efficiency fuel.

3. Prepare your mind for practice. Practice means doing essential exercises that are designed to train your brain for higher performance. Before you start your practice sessions, take a few moments to quiet your mind. There are many different ways to do this. One simple way is to shut your eyes and merely watch your breathing pattern for a minute or two until your breathing slows down and deepens into your diaphragm.

4. Be purposeful. Know what you want to get out of the material and how much comprehension is needed for the results of the practice session.

5. Ask yourself continuously. “What’s this about?” over each paragraph. Force your mind to respond to something you see.

6. Stop and Note every few minutes at least what the most important points were that you discovered along the way.

Bonus Tip: Practice Focusing Techniques. There are numerous techniques that can help you build your focus, not just for reading, but in general. Simply watching a candle, or light and noting how long it takes to observe your mind going somewhere else is one of the simplest techniques that you can do. Track how long it takes your mind to wander off and then try to make it longer each time.

Now that you have these nine tactics, apply them whenever you read, not only while learning to speed read.  I’d also like to invite you to learn more at Creating More Powerful Focus and Concentration.


Be sure to leave your comments and questions below. Let me know about your
attempts to control your mind wandering.