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From Skimming To Effective Eye Movements: 5 Tips To Improve Your Reading Speed

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Reading is no longer a means of entertainment. People now only read to get familiar with the subject matter of their interest. Besides, there are many distractions that can keep them away from it. Effective techniques to read faster can be very helpful in this regard.

Faster reading is critical. You can cover a lot of subject matter in a limited time if you are able to read faster, and we know well that we have actually very little time to spare for reading these days. Thus, reading something at a faster speed matters a lot today.

People usually think that acquiring the technique of reading faster is natural, which is not true. Reading faster is a skill that you have to master. Like any skill, there are some techniques you can follow.

Don’t Read Word-By-Word

This is true that words are the building blocks of a sentence. But, reading word-by-word slows the process and this technique makes reading material difficult to comprehend as well. The best way to read faster and without losing the grasp is to read by picking phrases.

Our eye span is usually 1.5 inches long. This means that we can read approximately 9-10 words at a time. While reading, use this technique of selecting the phrases of 5-9 words in a chunk. It requires a little practice to master this technique; however, when you ace this, your speed would increase significantly.

Skim and Scan the Material First

This is an interesting method, but can also be a bit confusing at first. This technique says that one should skim and scan the reading material first to get a feel for what lies in the texts. Some would argue why spend double the effort in scanning first, then start reading?

Actually, this method is effective. Isn’t it easy to tackle a problem if you beforehand know about the intricacies involved? When you skim and scan the materials before reading, then you would be looking for the relevant bits of information instinctively. After you start reading, you are already familiar with the main parts of the text and you will not slow down.

No Subvocalising

Subvocalisation is hearing out the words as you read them. This is done either by moving your lips or hearing the words in your head. Subvocalisation also greatly reduces the speed of your reading. Our concentration focuses mainly on sound and hearing, which affect our ability to comprehend a text. We tend to go backwards to re-read the text which we have already read earlier to grasp the meaning thus slowing the speed.

You can avoid subvocalising by keeping your mouth busy. This will increase your speed three times greater than your speaking speed (actually subvocalising is also the speed at which you can speak). You can stop this habit by being conscious at the time of reading or keeping something in the mouth like chewing gum so that it remains busy.

Learn Efficient Eye Movements

Quite naturally eyes play a vital part in your reading. Its effective use can add more speed to the way you read. It is advisable to keep the eyes relaxed and soften your gaze. In this way, you can pick more words from a page or a screen.

Apart from this, using your peripheral vision also increases the reading speed. With the peripheral vision, you can read the end of the sentence and you also need not focus your gaze too hard. This saves a lot of time.

Avoid Regression

Regression is an enemy to your reading speed. There are many reasons for regression in which you read and re-read a sentence more than once because you are not able to understand the sentence in a single attempt.

If you lost the place where you were reading, then it is better to run a pointer or your index finger through the given sentence at the time of reading. This will help you to keep a tab on the spot where you were reading. Running your index finger on sentences is otherwise also a great tool for fast reading.

One reason for regression is the lack of concentration resulting in an inability to grasp the meaning. The only way to avoid this is to keep yourself away from any form of distraction while reading. Distraction can be anything, reading in a noisy environment, your internal monologue, thinking about other issues at hand, ring of your mobile phone, etc. They key is to keep yourself away from these distractions to read fast.

So, when you read something next time, keeps these tips in mind and share your experiences.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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