How to Double Your Learning Speed by Jim Kwik
How many of you are like when you read something, you get to the end of the page, and then you forgot what you just read?
And you go back and you reread it and you still don’t know what you just read.
That’s a big problem because you’re wasting your most valuable asset, which is your Time.
How many people believe that we could go beyond what we believe?
I think the key to that, in one of the most obvious ways, is Reading. It’s one of the most valuable skills to master today. It’s something where somebody has decades of experience in anything and they put it into a book. And you could read it in a day or two or three or four. You could download decades in the days. I think it’s the ultimate advantage there is.
In “Game of Thrones” there’s this quote saying, “A reader lives a thousand lives. A person who does not read lives only one.”
I’m not just talking about non-fiction reading, I’m talking about fiction reading too. Reading stories has been shown to help with your creativity. It’s been shown to be helpful for your imagination and to increase your level of empathy, relatedness, and leadership, from parenting to team building.
Reading is a skill that when we were taught in school was a little bit dry, and that is why some people don’t want to indulge in it all the time. When you put something like reading first, your life opens up in so many different ways.
You remember when you were in school and they would put you in circles where you first learned how to read and they would pass around a book and you’d have to read out loud. I really do believe that was one of those points where we were extremely vulnerable. And if some people have a fear of public speaking, I think 90% of it came from those reading circles. Because emotion plays the difference. The state you learn something in is the state it gets encoded.
One of the challenges with reading is a lot of people use reading as a sedative. They have a book that’s been sitting by their bedside, for an embarrassingly long time, but they pick it up to fall asleep and that’s not the right state to have. So when we talk about the state, remember that all learning is state-dependent. If I want to learn something brand new, I never just pick up a book and start reading it. I never just listen to a podcast. I put myself in a state where I’m going to be more receptive to it.
Because the problem is a lot of people don’t like reading, simply because they’re collapsed all the time. With a body posture slumped down, you don’t feel very motivated, inspired, and focused. And one of the reasons why that happens is because you collapse your diaphragm. And the lower one-third of your lungs absorb two-thirds of the oxygen. So you’re just not getting oxygen to your brain. Your brain is only 2% of your body mass, but it requires 20% of the nutrients. All the organs in your body really are there to be able to serve your brain. Your heart, bringing blood and oxygen to your brain, your liver cleans things out, so as not to be toxic to your brain. So you have to give yourselves the optimal condition to read.
How to Make the Most Out of Your Reading?
The most useful strategy to learn something out of your reading is when you’re taking notes, put a line down the page, and on the left side, you’re going to Take notes. You’re going to Capture the ideas that you’re receiving. On the right side, you’re not going to Take notes, you’re going to Make notes. It’s a subtle difference. So on the left side, you’re capturing, on the right side, you’re creating. And what you are creating on the right side? You are writing your impressions of what you’re capturing. Because if your mind gets distracted, it would rather be distracted on the right side of the page, using your imagination for something that’s going to move you forward and when you’re learning.
Now there are three magical questions you want to ask yourself and capture on the right side of the page. These are the questions I obsess about. So when I’m reading something and I want to get the most out of it, I asked myself these three questions.
1. How can I use this?
It’s so basic, but I like to make the things that are going to give you the highest return. How can I use this? And this is your creativity. You’re reading something and you ask how can I use this? Because you have a Dominic question you ask all the time. The key to reading comprehension is asking more questions. If you read a page in a book and by the end, you do not get anything out of it then it’s because you’re not asking questions.
Questions are the answer because ask and you shall receive.
That’s all thinking is. When you really break down functionally, what thought and thinking is; when you’re in a corner thinking to yourself, you’re asking questions, and then you’re answering them, and you probably are like, is that true? You’ll notice you had to ask a question to be able to think about that. It will give you more and more reasons to utilize that learning.
2. Why must I use this?
The second question I obsess about, and I would capture it on the right side. I would say, Why must I use this?
The biggest lie in the personal development industry is that knowledge is power. It’s just, you feel like you got points because you signed up for a seminar or a webinar or you bought a book and it sits on your shelf, and it becomes shelf help instead of self-help, because it just, sits there. But it doesn’t become knowledge until you make it.
The truth is, what people don’t tell you is all the podcasts, coaching conferences, online programs. None of it works, unless you work. You can’t read a book on doing pushups and get benefit from that, it just doesn’t work. You have to do it practically to make it work.
So I’m asking myself, how can I use this? And come up with all these ideas. That’s the creativity part. And then I’m asking why must I use this? Because if it’s not a must, you’re not going to do it, because you have plenty of other things to do.
There’s a success formula: Head, Heart, Hands.
You could think about things in your mind, set goals in your head and affirmations, KPIs, your objectives. But if you’re not acting with your hands and you’re procrastinating. If there’s a gap between your head in your hands, check in with the second H which is your heart. The emotion, we do things emotionally. We are emotional creatures, we’re not logical, we’re biological, dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, endorphins, we’re this chemical soup. And so we want to be able to activate that.
So what I’m asking about here, is the inspiration, for why must I use this? And a question I ask myself a lot is like, who’s counting on me to win today. Because some of us really will do more for other people than we will for ourselves. Knowing that about yourself, you don’t have to change it just tap into it. Who’s counting on me to be at my best? And then you’re more likely to do it. I know this is because when I was driven so much, it was really my family who I wanted to make proud.
One of my favorite books, “Start with Why” it’s a must-read book by Simon Sinek. You want to start with your why, because Reasons Reap Results. So find your motivation, your reading, because if you’re not motivated, you’re not going to read very well.
First, you create your habits and then your habits create you back. Life of your dreams really is hidden in your daily routines. It’s the things you do daily, and 40% of what you do every single day is all habitual, you’re on autopilot. When did you create those habits by consciously sitting down and putting together those routines?
I have 10 things I do every morning to jumpstart my brain. Those things are important because they’re discipline and also it reduces decision fatigue. A lot of you aren’t reading, because you’re just exhausted. And I bet you though, it’s not just because you’re busy and doing too many things, it’s because you’re not doing enough of the things that make you feel alive. You feel burnt out, you feel tired and exhausted, not because you’re so busy, it’s just, you’re not doing enough of the things that nourish you, that fire you, that give you light.
One of my favorite books, another book is “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”. There is a habit in there that says, put first things first. Put first things first. And that’s when you know you have a legendary life.
That the ultimate quest in life really is to reach our fullest potential, to express that potential, to be able to share that potential with others.
So why do you want to be able to learn this? Why must you learn this?
3. When will I use this?
And the third question I ask when I’m reading something is when will I use this?
So three questions,
How can I use this?
Why must I use this?
When will I use this?
Three powerful questions that lead to something. I think the number one productivity, performance tool is your Calendar. A lot of you, say you want to work out or you want to meditate, or you want to do this self-care. But how does your daily calendar reflect that? I could look at anyone’s calendar and see where they are in life because of what they prioritize. First things first.
If we look around today, we can see how many people have been affected by, growing dementia, Alzheimer’s brain aging challenges. And how many people are not the same over time. I spent a lot of time in senior centers, caregiving centers not to teach the memory techniques, but really just to have them share stories because there are so many lessons you can learn from everybody.
That’s a primary belief I have with accelerated learning is that everybody is your teacher. Everybody is your teacher and everything could be your teacher too. And we know that the problems that we have in life are also our teachers. We all have had serious issues in different areas of our life. You ask yourself, “Where’s the lesson in this?” Your greatest teacher is your last mistake. That’s the power of going out there and making mistakes. A lot of people won’t be willing to make mistakes, including trying to learn something brand new, like a speed reading, because of their fear of messing up and not being perfect at something. And they don’t feel like that can be successful. Whether it’s your career, whether it’s your health or relationship or anything. If failure is not an option, then neither is success.
Even when I’m spending time with these senior centers, pulling off some memories and learning from them as well. And at the same time, I hear a lot of regrets. And the number one regret I hear ongoing for two decades is that somehow they lived their life for somebody else, in some area of their life.
We’re all going to eventually end this form, we’re going to transition at some point and many of us are going to be in a coffin. We’re going to be in a box. And in that box, there’s not a lot of room for possessions. If you have cars and everything, that’s just wonderful. But there’s certainly not a lot of room for regrets.
So, if you buy into the opinions of other people, you’re going to go broke. If you’re looking to be fueled by other people’s expectations and opinions of yourself, then you’re going to run out of gas. And you’re like, what does this have to do with reading, it comes back to this.
And here’s the thing like, there’s sometimes the people that care about you the most are the ones that you give the power to hold you back. They don’t hold you back, but you give them the power to do so. I’m not at all saying it’s easy because sometimes learning like life is messy. You can’t change them. But the best thing you could do is be an example. That if you’re going through difficult times, they can define you, they could diminish you or they could develop you, but you decide. And it always comes back to decision.
So prompting you to, with these three questions, how can I use this? Why must I use this? When will I use this?
So when I’m taking notes, when I’m reading, I’m thinking about those three questions. Otherwise if not, then you’ll just read a page and nothing happens, nothing’s different in the world, all you did was invest time. And so you’re no better off than somebody who’s illiterate.
If you’re not going to use what you’re learning, you’re no better off functionally in your life in terms of results than somebody who can’t read at all.
The seventh habit of highly effective people by Stephen Covey is about “Sharpen the saw”. If you have all this wood you need to cut. Metaphorically you have your to-do’s and everything else, but you have a saw with a dull blade. Then it will makes no sense to suffer and struggle and stress trying to do that. If it’s not sharp. And that’s what people are doing with their reading. You’re reading probably dozens and dozens of pages of books a day as it is through texts, through blogs, through Instagram descriptions and everything. So you’re reading, you just have to choose and be more selective what you’re putting in your mind.
And I think a lot of people need to to stay on guard to the doors of your brain, because information is just everywhere. We’re drowning in information. But we’re starving for practical wisdom and inspiration. And that’s why I think all these things come together.
What keeps a Slow Reader?
Now there are a number of things that keep you as a slow reader. The first obstacle to effective reading is lack of education. It’s not a skill that we were taught. You’re not born with the ability to read. And the last time you took a reading class, how old were you? Probably Six. So it has the difficulty, has the velocity, has the variety, has as the demand, increased a little bit since you were six. And so you want to upgrade those kinds of skills.
Second obstacle to effective reading is lack of focus. How many of you when you read your mind wanders and you can’t concentrate? One of the reasons why is you’re reading too slow. And this is a big rumor being spread around, I think by slow readers. But if I asked you to read faster, what do you think will happen to your understanding comprehension? You feel like it’ll go down, but actually, it goes up. We have an online program and students from 180 countries. So we have a lot of data that shows that the fastest readers tend to have the best comprehension because they have the best focus. Because your brain is a supercomputer. But when most people read, they feed this supercomputer. One. Word. At. A time.
Metaphorically, notice the feeling that you have, the sensation you feel when someone talks slowly. In your mind, after some time, you’ll start wondering, you’d be distracted, you start falling asleep, and you would start doing other things. Isn’t that what you’re doing already, when you’re reading? You’re reading too slowly. And so when you go faster, it’s like driving a car. If you go out driving slow, you’re drinking your tea or texting and doing makeup, you’re doing all these different things. But if you’re racing a car, you’re just doing one thing. You’re just driving. And that’s why when you read faster, you have better focus and because you have better focus, you have better comprehension.
The last reason I would say that we got to fix for your reading speed is this thing called subvocalization. Subvocalization is the inner talk. How many of you notice when you read something, you hear an inner voice, this voice inside your head, reading along with you? The reason why it’s a challenge is if you have to say all the words to understand them, you can only read as fast as you could speak. You really don’t have to say New York City or Statue of Liberty, or even if it’s an abbreviation NYC, you don’t have to say that, in order to understand what it is.
And my point to emphasize about subvocalization is it’s not necessary to say the words in order to understand those words. That’s why we teach people to read three times faster because it’s not rocket science. It’s just, hey, don’t pronounce these words. Because you were taught that in those school circles, you had to read out loud, and then later your teacher was like, okay, read to yourself. That’s when you took that external voice and you put it in internal and it’s been there ever since.
So there are a couple of things you could do to reduce subvocalization. For example, some people move their lips when they speak. That’s what keeps them, so we can interrupt that pattern. Some people will bite on their knuckles, or they’ll chew gum while they do that will help. Some people listen to music, because that will actually help drown out the inner talk. But a third thing you could do is counting. Like when you’re reading go one, two, three, four, five, six and that may seem so hard at first. But you can’t talk to yourself while you count and still read. So you have to interrupt that pattern because it’s been there since we were a child and then you could move yourself into another bigger, bigger direction.
The last tip I will give you to leave you with is using a visual pacer. I want to remind you that when you read, that if you use your finger, a highlighter or a pen, a pencil, a mouse with the computer, your eyes are attracted to motion. And you actually read better, not only faster but better focus and comprehension.
The main idea that I want to encourage everybody here is when you read, if you want to be a smart reader, a faster reader, you’ll read better if you understand the information better and what will get you there, is reading for purpose. Ask yourself,
How can I use this?
Why must I use this?
When will I use this?
And all of a sudden everything from there just opens up. Always keep a reading list. Keep a list of targeted books, as you hear all the time, keep it in your phone because one book could change your life forever.
And when I first taught this, one of my first students, read 30 books in 30 days. I wanted to know why. And I found out her mother was dying of terminal cancer and the books she was reading, saved her mom’s life because she was only given two months to live by the doctors. So she read books on wellness, energy medicine, alternative medicine, health, diet. And I was like, good luck, I said my prayers to her. Six months later, I got a call from this young lady and she was crying. Finally, when she stopped, I find out they were tears of joy that her mother not only survived, but she really starting to get better. Doctors don’t know how, they don’t know why, they called it a miracle. But her mother attributed 100% of the great advice she got from her daughter, who learned it from all these books.
And I realized at that moment that it would be my mission.
That if knowledge is power, then learning and especially reading is your superpower. And now is the time to unleash it.
(From the Live Talk of Jim Kwik — Full Video Here)