Reading on the Clock

Reading on the clock

Have you ever found yourself reading and rereading the same paragraph a dozen times, but still not absorbing anything? It happens to the best of us so don’t feel bad. Sometimes it means you should take a break or go somewhere quieter or you’re thinking about too many things while you’re trying to read. But for those times when you’re on the clock and really need to get this read, don’t let your brain trick you into reading the same thing a hundred times over, because if you do it right, you’ll only need to read a section once.

If any of that rang a bell, you’ll get good use out of these handy tips to reinforce your focus as you read, and you won’t let your brain trap you into thinking you need to read the same thing over and over. Follow these guidelines, and you’ll start reading and absorbing material efficiently and quickly.


The human eye is extremely responsive to motion—you see it most in babies, but adults’ eyes reflexively follow movement as well. Think of your finger like a focusing object, like a laser pointer—just adding greater focus—and track the words with it as you read them. It’ll make your eyes much more disposed to stay with the text as you go down the passage. Plus, if you keep doing this, you’ll train your eyes to follow text more effectively with or without a focusing object.


Your reading speed is affected by the many flickering pauses your eyes make even in the time it takes to scan a single line. Reading is ideally a fluid process. If you concentrate, you’ll notice the pauses as you read a page. Keep track of the number of times your eyes break their flow, and try and identify where your eyes tend to make these brief stops. Do they stop after every word to let your brain register the information? Or do you pause at the end of a phrase or clause? Is there a voice in your head reading “out loud”?

You probably know that your eyes read faster than your inner voice reads, so try and suppress that voice (that can’t keep up with the speed with which you’re absorbing information) for the moment. Using the tracking we mentioned above will help you practice smooth, fluid eye movement.


When you first begin to read frequently and in large amounts, your eyes will have a scattered approach to the page. As you go through the first words of a line, your eyes will sometimes travel to the very end, seemingly skipping over the middle of the sentence—in fact, for most people, the end and the beginning of a word suffices for understanding because your brain tends to provide the information without your actively receiving it (but you still need to read carefully!).

Accept that your eyes and brain process information non-linearly sometimes—that’s a natural phenomenon. Now that you know this, you’ll find it easier to consciously control it, and you’ll find your eyes starting and finishing where you’re supposed to. A useful way to start getting good at this is to cut down the duration of individual reading sessions, and increasing their frequency. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to focus during a planned 15-minute reading session, five or six times a day.

To accustom yourself to reading this way, a good way to practice is to read something you enjoy. Done right, most things can be enjoyable, and it’ll be easier to train yourself to read better if you’re also interested in the material. Once you get that done, you’ll be better able to read relatively drier material as well.

Actively guide your eye movement, maintain a steady and measured pace, and limit meanderings as much as you can, and you’ll develop mastery over your eyes. We’ll be following up with a whole bunch of smart and easy techniques to improve your reading speed and comprehension, so watch this space.

We’ve got some more tips to help you focus too—check them out here.

If you can’t wait until our next post, give us a call and get your first hour of coaching absolutely free!

4 thoughts on “Reading on the Clock

  1. sehrish

    The first paragraph of this article sounded like someone was discussing with me a very grave issue about my life! I always seem to read and re read sentences and paragraphs and still don’t grasp anything. i guess these tips should help me in my future learnings. thank you very much!

    1. Omar

      Exactly my sentiment Sehrish! Seems like this post touched on the most serious issue of my life – reading the same text several times before I feel I can move on. Will surely be trying out this advice!

  2. Anam

    This has been my problem for God knows how many years. I guess I have lost the count now. I will try these tips and I hope they are effective 🙂

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