How to stay focused on reading?
Sub-vocalisation is the least of your reading problem.
The biggest problem is that you are not physically engaged and intellectually stimulated when you are reading, probably resulting from not knowing/using efficient and effective reading strategies of fast and versatile readers.
I like to share my "reading ritual" with you, based on my experience as a fast and versatile reader since the early 90's:
[From my "tricks of the trade", you may pick what you need!]
1. PREPARING THE MIND:
First and foremost, practise some relaxation sequences, with slow but deep diaphragmatic breathing routines, so as to help center your mind from distracting thoughts, but more importantly, to help create a resourceful and superior state of mind, with a physiologically relaxed body to go along with it.
2. BEGINNING WITH THE END IN MIND:
Decide on your ultimate application, and whether you want a global overview or detailed information from your reading, as well as how much time you are prepared to invest, as your decision will determine your reading pace.
3. HAVING AN ATTACK STRATEGY:
Learn and apply the seemingly popular SQ5R reading strategy.
With an SQ5R, a quick scan of the tapestry of contents, preface, index and appendix, and even the bibliography, all at the back, and also the end-of-book summary, if available, will often give you some inklings about the book's contents.
That's why, to me, the SQ5R helps immeasurably in this respect.[Google for it on the net. Many thanks to psychologist Francis Robinson of Ohio State University, who originated the concept back in the 1940's]
4. KNOWING THE PATTERNS:
Learn to recognise all the Text Organisational Patterns and their Signal Words, often used by authors in the more intellectually intensive reading materials
With pattern recognition, your mind moves at warp speeds, since it knows where - and what - to focus on within the book terrain.
5. VISUAL PACING:
Use a pen or pencil as a pacer, to control the visual sweep of the saccadic movement of your eyeballs, as attested by most fast readers.
6. GOING FOR THE JUGULAR:
Apply Pareto's Principle, to help you segregate "core material" from "elaborative material".
- "core material" = concepts; theories; principles; definitions; terminologies; nomenclatures; etc.
- "elaborative material" = illustrations; examples, anecdotes, etc.;
's always good to adopt the Index Card Strategy to help you learn and master "core material" quickly;
7. EXTRACTING GEMS or MINING GOLD:
Learn to spot Key Ideas, and salient points, using the knowledge gained in (3) and (4).
One quick way to achieve productive results in your reading navigation is constantly asking:
- what is the author talking about here? or
- what is the essence here?
- what the key ideas and salient points here? or
- what is important and relevant here, in terms of my predefined objectives or desired outcomes?
[To use the Tomahawk cruise missile analogy, homing on to a predefined, long-distance target, your mind goes automatically into active search mode!]
8. MAKING NOTES:
Don't hesitate to make Marginal Annotations, or intellectual graffiti as I like to call it sometimes, by making notes in the white spaces of text passages, with personal relevancy to call-to-action.
Always express them in terms of:
A2T (Actions-to Take)/T2D (Things-to-Do)/Q2P (Questions-to-Ponder).
All the foregoing tactical initiatives as outlined in (4)(5)(6)(7) and (8) are intended to make your reading endeavour a truly active - and interactive - process, thus helping you to stay physically engaged and intellectually stimulated.
It's like what I often call, having an "intellectual intercourse" with the author and the text.
9. CONSOLIDATING YOUR READING SOJOURN:
Upon completion of your reading endeavour:
Recap and Summarise, preferably with an idea map or cluster diagram or graphic organiser, so as to consolidate and synthesise quickly what you have just read.
10. RELEVANCY TO ACTION:
In conjunction with 9):
Think and Reflect:
- Where do I go from here?
- What's(are) my Next Step(s)?
- [Refer to (8)] How can I use these readings to add/compound/multiply value in my academic pursuit/in my life/in my work/in my business/for my client(s)?
Your real life application of whatever you have found useful from your reading comes from here.
A word of expert advice:
Read only what you need, so as to fulfill your ultimate application and time urgency.
So in a nut shell, you actually don't have to finish the whole book!
It's also pertinent for me to point out that, the fire test of your personal or professional reading actually comes from what you eventually do with the ideas and insights generated from what you have read.