An average adult reads between 200 to 300 words per minute, and you get to that level by the eighth grade. For success in college, you should be able to read 350 to 450 words per minute. If your work involves reading a lot of material on a daily bases, like that of a writer, you are expected to read at least 500 words per minute.
Yet I averaged about 83 words a minute. Every time I sat with a book that I was dying to read, I couldn’t manage more than ten pages in half an hour.
What was surprising that I wasn’t always like this. I used to be able to finish a book within three days. What was hindering my progress?
It was only recently that I realized that very quality that should make me a better reader was stopping me from finishing the book.
There are two ways of getting things done.
The first is to be slow and methodical. The second is to beat the clock.
Many of us like the idea of perfection, toiling away at our work, in order to reach a seemingly impossible goal.
Will your work be any better if you take twice as much time.
If you consider yourself to be a perfectionist, chances are, you wear it as a badge of honour. You think you should be producing your best work at all times.
Perfectionism is the enemy of getting things done.
Have you ever tried to write a book in one month?
The idea was absurd and close to impossible when Chris Baty and his friends thought of it in 1999. But they went ahead and did it anyway. Six out of twenty participants completed the challenge including Chris Baty.
They succeeded because they were not out there to write world’s best book or even their own best book. They succeeded because they went out to beat the clock. They wrote 50,000 words in one month. Each day they raced the time, writing 1667 words.
Next year they launched the project on the internet. 140 people participated, 29 won the challenge. Last year (2019), more than half a million people participated, over 60,000 won the challenge.
Because they put the perfection aside and went on to beat the clock.
Speed beats perfection every time.
Being a typical perfectionist, I was turning the simple act of reading into a much harder exercise.
Rather than enjoying the book, I was analyzing every sentence trying to figure out how the writer has transitioned from one idea to another, how she has managed to move the story while giving minimum details.
To my perfectionist mind, what was the point of reading a book if I couldn’t learn from it?
By striving to learn more I was jeopardizing the learning that comes from simple reading.
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfection is not about healthy achievement and growth.Brené Brown, a writer and research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work
I started reading with a timer, finishing 30 pages in 30 minutes. The eighth-grade reading speed can help me read three books in a month.
You’re probably trying to shake your perfectionism but finding it too hard.
It is understandable.
It is hard to break any habit.
The mistake we make is that we want to make a massive jump.
The key to breaking out of your comfort zone, you stretch yourself ever so slightly.
That massive jump may not be possible. Instead, take a smaller one—just a slight stretch goal. Set yourself the time in which you’ll complete the job.
Your work may not be as perfect as you hoped, but it gives you a chance to finish it and improve it later.
If you follow this simple formula you’ll find yourself less exhausted and with more energy. However, the biggest benefit of all is you’ll become far better and far quicker at what you’re doing.