Marcel Proust’s ‘Remembrance of things past’ is a whopping 4215 pages long, covering seven volumes. Thankfully, most of us will never have to plough our way through that particular document however, there are times, in whatever business or industry we’re in, when we need to absorb a large amount of information in a small amount of time, speed reading becomes a necessity. Having to read – and understand – a huge book or document can be daunting but, it needn’t be overwhelming.
Get started with a preview and review
Before wading into a huge reading project, it’s a good idea to scan the book or document first. Flip through the pages and take note of chapter and paragraph headings. Not only will this give you the gist of the project, it will also highlight the sections that you need to focus on and those which you can skip.
It’s all in the planning
Now that you’ve got an idea of the content of the book, it’s time to plan your attack. At this stage, there are two things you need to ask yourself – what do you want to learn? And, what questions are you hoping to answer? Write down the answers to these questions, and then cross-reference them against the notes you made during your preview. You’ve now got a sensible and workable plan for when you start reading plus, by breaking the project down into chunks like this it will appear a lot less daunting.
Find the perfect time and place
When embarking on your reading project, environment is everything – which rules out a noisy coffee shop or busy office. You may already know what’s the best environment for you to work in, whether that’s a library, your house or a co-working space. If you’re required to complete the project within your workplace then find an empty office or boardroom as distractions are your arch enemy when it comes to concentration and focus. Don’t forget to take short breaks, even if you’re on a tight deadline, as this will help you to absorb what you’ve read as well as giving your eyes a rest. Structure these breaks into your reading time to avoid mindless procrastination.
It’s only words
In your preview stage, you chopped out some unnecessary sections but, it doesn’t stop there. Unless the text is particularly complex, you don’t need to focus on – or even read – every single word to get the meaning. You can usually scan a few sentences at a time without losing understanding – and you can also make a note to return to a section later if you need to.
Don’t be afraid to cheat a little!
Ahh, the internet – the source of a lot of much frustration but, also, our biggest time-saving invention. Technology is invaluable in increasing the efficiency of our work, whether it’s computer-assisted translation tools for translators or VoIP technology to hold interviews or meetings remotely. If the book or document you’ve been tasked with is available online (or even as a digital document), you may be able to run a search for it on your computer. This can help you by quickly highlighting the pages that you need to focus on, as well as letting you copy and paste some sections for your notes.
The art of speed reading is one that takes a little practice – and a lot of planning – but is worth the effort. This process will allow you to digest a huge amount of data in a fraction of the time that it would normally take – which is invaluable when you’re up against a deadline or two.
Top-quality translators need to be excellent readers, and here at BeTranslated, our linguists are among the best. If you are looking for a professional translation of texts in any language combination, don’t hesitate to contact us for more information or to get a quote.