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How to save time without applying yet another “time management” technique

How do you find more time?

We are all aware of how busy we are. Feeling unable to get to the end of your “to do list” is a modern disease.

What if there was a skill you could acquire that would give you more time? A worthwhile skill that could help you to free up a big chunk of time every day? And it’s a skill that has nothing to do with “time management”.

Before I say more about this skill, let’s start with a question.

How much content do you consume by reading?

Even if you’re a fan of audio books – which are great for when you’re driving – I expect you still take in a lot of information via reading. Think about how much time you spend reading emails and work-related documents such as letters, specifications and notes on drawings amongst others, before you even pick up a book.

What if you could halve the amount of time you spend reading, and yet take in much more of the content? Reading emails, proposals, briefs, books, articles and even looking at LinkedIn or Facebook will all take you less time if you master this skill.

I am sure you may have guessed – the skill is speed reading.

It’s tempting to think that this technique is a gimmick, or something that you need a natural aptitude for. However, the reality is that with the right teacher, I believe that anyone who reads can acquire this skill.

I decided to attend a speed reading workshop after I was asked to judge the “Specialist” category at The British Business Book Awards this year. The awards are on 26th March.

The reality is it would have been very challenging to be involved with the judging if I hadn’t worked on my reading speed. After a day of shortlisting with my fellow judges, in January, I calculated I would need to spend one hour and forty minutes reading each day, in order to get through all five books ahead of our final day of judging. And that was after learning speed reading techniques.

Speed reading is not just about learning to read more quickly – it helps you to improve your comprehension and retention as well.

What results can you expect from a speed reading course?

At the start of the workshop I could read 206 words per minute, with a retention rate of approximately 60%. This works out at 124 effective words per minute.

By the end of the workshop I was reading 351 words per minute with a retention rate of 80%. That is 281 effective words per minute, or 2.3x faster than when I’d arrived on the course that morning.

What is most interesting is that once you’ve learnt this skill you start to use it subconsciously in different situations. I now find myself whizzing through my email inbox. This takes practice and application, like any new skill you have acquired.

As with any skill you want to learn, it is important to find the right teacher. The workshop I attended was with the third fastest speed reader in the world – a bronze medallist at the speed reading world championship.

His name is Dan Bradbury, and he’s based at Warwick University for workshops and events. It’s his belief that people who can learn, filter and then apply information to adapt their behaviour the quickest, have the best chance of success. I’m inclined to agree with him.

If you’re interested in getting the details of the speed reading workshop I took, please reply to this email and let me know – I’m happy to share this information with you.

And, of course, if you need help with the structural elements of an upcoming project, please get in touch.

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