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Productive Daydreaming while Reading
by On July 15, 2010

Myth – Any daydreaming while reading is not good. Why should it concern you when you daydream while reading? Because it affects concentration, slows your reading speed down, and ultimately can hinder your ability to comprehend.

Truth – Some daydreaming is good! Knowing the difference between good and bad daydreaming is helpful for all readers to understand.

Just what is daydreaming? Also called mind-wandering, it is when your mental focus gets interrupted – mostly very briefly – by another thought that is either related, or unrelated, to what you are reading. It is a natural human event that all readers experience, though more so with slower readers.

There are basically two kinds of daydreaming while you read: effective and ineffective.

  • Effective daydreaming, also called “active” mind-wandering, is when you are mentally applying what you are reading to something you already know. For example, if you took a trip to Italy several years ago and you were reading a magazine article about the art preservation activities there, your mind will most likely “wander” back to your trip. You will mentally relate what you personally experienced with the information presented in the article. This type of mind-wandering is good because this is how you learn. You build bridges of knowledge from what you know to the new material on the page.
  • Ineffective daydreaming, also called “passive” mind-wandering, is when you are thinking about a million other unrelated things, such as reminding yourself to call the vet for an appointment for your pet, or thinking about the party this weekend or thinking about __________. You fill in the blank! Too much passive mind wandering will slow you down, prevent you from getting good comprehension and waste your time.

So how can you encourage the effective daydreaming while discouraging the ineffective? Here’s a few ideas:

  • Identify the type of daydreaming you are doing. If it is effective, and a good use of your time at that time, keep doing it. If it is ineffective, you might need to unclutter your mind by writing your thoughts down, ask yourself if this is really a good time to be reading, or relocate to a place where your concentration is not interrupted.
  • Set a goal. By setting a time goal – “I will read for 30 minutes and stop” – or a quantity goal – “I will read through page 80 and stop” – you have a better chance of staying focused than if you think you have all the time in the world to read.
  • Learn to read faster! People who read over 300 words per minute, and faster, daydream less than those who read fewer words per minute. They have specific, useable strategies that help them get what they need quickly without wasting time and increases their focus.

Wishing you more good daydreaming!

About the Author:  Abby Marks Beale is founder of The Corporate Educator, a professional speaking and training company specializing in helping with busy people work smarter, faster and just plain better. Go to

How to Gain New Ideas from Re-Reading Books
by On June 24, 2010

In preparing for this article, I had a powerful realization. It struck me that many times when we are in need of motivation or ideas to improve ourselves, we tend to look for new concepts in new books, new CD’s and new teachers. If we could revisit what we had learned in the past, perhaps we would find a deeper level of understanding and answers our own questions.

I would like to suggest that you go back to your own bookshelf, or wherever you keep your learning tools, and pull something off of the shelf that you have not paged through or listened to in the last year.

These tools could be anything – training manuals, sales books, notes from a seminar, notes from a meeting or seminar etc. I would bet that you will be amazed by how much you can gain from rereading a book, a chapter, or even a page for the second, third or fourth time.

I have a whole pile of books that I have read multiple times and I still gain a new truth or idea every single time I revisit them. I have found that the concepts that seemed simple and easy the first time suddenly reveal themselves to contain million dollar ideas.

It is like you have been digging in the same gold mine for years. Just when you think you have gotten every bit of precious metal available and you casually take one more shovel full only to realize that you have just uncovered the mother lode.

What are your top books or learning tools that you feel would be beneficial to revisit?

Be Free!

Tom Weber

Speed Reading Strategy – Read the Best and SKIP the Rest!
by On May 27, 2010

Here is one of the 15 strategies we teach at our Reading Smart Speed Reading Workshop.  You will be amazed at how fast you can read a magazine cover to cover with this technique! 

Enjoy and Be Free!
Using Skipping as a Reading Strategy

Using skipping as a reading strategy means to selectively choose which parts to read and which to leave out, based on your purpose and responsibility.

Your purpose and responsibility should answer these questions: “WHY am I reading this?” and “WHAT do I need it for?” Some possible answers include “Because I have to, want to, or need to for my job, my interests, my curiosity, a test, my personal development and so on.” If you cannot effectively answer these questions (the more specifically the better), then you probably shouldn’t be reading the material in your hand.

If you can establish your purpose and responsibility but the material you are reading has become redundant or unnecessary based on your needs, then you can confidently skip to a new sentence, article or even chapter.

Try this: Read the first sentences of paragraphs (on non-fiction, factual material only – magazines work great) to quickly find the paragraphs you want to spend your time on. Skip the rest.

The key to effective skipping is in choosing what you read, not what you leave out. Overcome your fear of missing material. There is more than enough reading material to last a lifetime — your job is to q-u-i-c-k-l-y find what is most valuable to you.

About the Author:
Abby Marks Beale is founder of The Corporate Educator, a professional speaking and training company specializing in helping with busy people work smarter, faster and just plain better. Go to  

Top 6 Business Books to Read in 2010
by On April 27, 2010

Drive - The Surprising Truth About What Motivates UsThese are some of the top picks for your 2010’s reading list. The staff at Freedom Personal Development LOVES the book Drive and are excited to read the others on this list.

Feed your brain, kick start your career and add meaning to your work.

What have been your favorite business books this year?

Don’t have time to read? Enroll in our Reading Smart Workshop and learn how to double your reading speed AND increase your comprehension.

Be Free!
1. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – by Daniel Pink 

Pink makes the case that there’s much more to motivation than money — autonomy, improvement and a deeper sense of purpose push people more strongly.

Drawing on scientific research, Pink profiles companies and entrepreneurs who are taking a nontraditional approach to lighting fires under their workers.

2. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? – by Seth Godin 

The title is pretty explanatory in the latest from Godin, a powerhouse marketer/author known for books like “Purple Cow” and “Tribes.” Godin argues that the best and most coveted employees connect coworkers, catalyze deals and see opportunities that others don’t. He also tries to lay out a roadmap for how to become such an uber-pro. If Godin’s advice for building a personal brand is as popular as his material on corporate brands and customer demographics, “Linchpin” will be well-received.

3. Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard – by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Weaving psychology and sociology through a number of anecdotes, the Heaths show that some of the most transformative managers follow a pattern of change. They argue that the trick to making things happen quickly on a large scale is to sync emotional thinking with rationale thinking. That sounds wishy-washy, but neither of these guys are on the New-Age circuit. Chip Heath is a business professor at Stanford University and Dan is a consultant at The Aspen Institute.

4. Louder Than Words: Take Your Career from Average to Exceptional with the Hidden Power of Nonverbal Intelligence – by Joe Navarro

In poker, reading an opponent’s gestures, or “tells,” can make all the difference. The same is true in an office, according to Navarro. He breaks down body language, bad habits and behavioral ticks as essential to understanding what is really going on in a company, a business meeting or even a phone call. Navarro also advises how to use these intangible forces to get ahead on the job.

5. The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue EXCELLENCE – by Thomas J. Peters

Peters, most known for his 1982 “In Search of Excellence,” cranks out some more counterintuitive management advice in his latest offering — encouraging bosses to cherish “weirdness,” focus on common sense and step away from their computers. We’re wondering if writing “excellence” in capital letters is one of the 163 suggestions.

6. Rework – by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson 

Dubbed as “inspirational” and a “mini manifesto,” “Rework” comprises hundreds of simple rules for success. The little tome also plays the counterintuitive card heavily with advice ranging from “fire the workaholics” to “planning is guessing.” More detailed descriptions have been scarce, but “Rework” has career counselors gushing.


Actual Client Success Rates with Reading Smart Workshop
by On March 17, 2010

speed_reading-01Our newest workshop, Reading Smart, has been receiving rave reviews from around the country. Professional, parents and students alike are increasing their reading speeds AND maintaining, or increasing, their comprehension. Here are some recent testimonials and actual before and after reading speeds. Numbers don’t lie!

From High School Senior, Rebecca Lenz:

“I hated to read because of how slow of a reader I was. After taking this workshop, I now am not dreading reading. My WPM [words per minute] has improved tremendously and I’m still comprehending what I’m reading. It’s amazing what this workshop has done for me.”

From the VP of Mack Investment, Ed Gjertsen II

“This was a great learning opportunity. It will greatly increase my ability to get through my reading. Brining my wife and school age children was a great move. While very good students to begin with, the tips and techniques they learned will allow them to excel in a very competitive academic environment.”

Actual Before and After Reading Speeds and Comprehension

After attending the Reading Smart Workshop, people are more than DOUBLING their reading speeds. Even at these sound barrier breaking speeds, tons of people have INCREASED their comprehension – check out these numbers:

Started at: 400 WPM with 70% comprehension
Ended at: 800 WPM with 60% comprehension
– Adam Heaney, Emery Financial

Started at: 160 WPM with 60% comprehension
Ended at: 240 WPM with 90% comprehension
– Rodney Jacobson

Started at: 265 WPM with 60% comprehension
Ended at: 600 WPM with 80% comprehension
– Gail Bush, HR Director, Power Genix

Started at: 200 WPM with 60% comprehension
Ended at: 480 WPM with 80% comprehension
– Lisa Heaney

Started at: 240 WPM with 50% comprehension
Ended at: 800 WPM with 60% comprehension
– Debbie Rodriguez, Account Manager, Old Republic Title

Started at: 240 WPM with 80% comprehension
Ended at: 800 WPM with 90% comprehension
– Nancy Early

Started at: 240 WPM with 90% comprehension
Ended at: 600 WPM with 60% comprehension
– Anonymous

Be Free!

For more information on the Reading Smart Workshop, call us at 888-233-0407

How to Create a Business Book Club
by On February 17, 2010

Abby Marks BealeCreating a Business Book Club to Make Your Business Reading Easier

Don’t you just marvel at people at work who talk about the books they read and what they learned? You think, “Good for them, they’ve got time to read. . . but I don’t.” Yes, time is certainly a factor but what’s one of the best ways to make time? Make a commitment to others and meet regularly.

In other words, create a business book club!

Being a member of a business book club is the easiest, most fun way to get you to read while infusing your brain with usable information. (You can also adapt this information for starting a casual book club with your friends.) Setting one up is easy if you follow these simple parameters:

  • Ideal Size: 10-12 (knowing that only 8-10 will probably make it on a regular basis)
  • Meeting Frequency: Once a month at the same time (i.e.1st Friday of the month)
  • Suggested Meeting Length: 30-60 minutes before work begins or over lunch (after work creates high levels of attrition)
  • Location: A quiet and private conference or meeting room
  • Fees: Just the cost of the books
  • Refreshments: optional, pot-luck or bring- your- own

At your first meeting, decide what types of books you want to read. Then talk about ground rules to include the responsibilities of members such as reading the book (!), attending meetings, absentee policy, judgment-free participation guidelines, guests, etc.

Every meeting should have a designated facilitator who reminds members of the upcoming meeting, leads the discussion, monitors start and stop times, and encourages dialogue from all participants. The facilitator can stay the same or rotate among the members.

That’s it! As you continue to meet, go with what works and abandon things that don’t. As a result, you will be more interested in reading, more interesting to talk to and more well-informed!


Abby Marks Beale is founder of The Corporate Educator, a professional speaking and training company specializing in helping with busy people work smarter, faster and just plain better. Go to

Abby also created Freedom Personal Development’s Reading Smart Workshop – check for locations in your area.

Tips to Read Faster – Keep Your Eyes Moving Forward
by On February 3, 2010

Abby Marks BealeUse A Blank White Card to Push Your Eyes Down the Page

A common problem all readers have is passive regression, or unintentionally going back over material previously read. The habit typically stems from a reader’s insecurity about their comprehension level initially instilled by our well-meaning reading teachers. Regression can be beneficial though if it is done actively with a purpose in mind, such as going back to check an unfamiliar word.

Try this: To reduce passive regression and to help you read faster, place a blank 3 x 5 white card ON TOP of the words covering the text you already read, leaving exposed the words yet to read.

Use the narrow side of the card for narrow columns and the wider side of the card for wider columns. If the column width is very wide, then tape two cards together. This will force you to push your eyes down the page and help you resist the urge to re-read unnecessarily.

Focusing only on the words you are reading enhances your concentration, helps you keep your place and facilitates forward eye movements.

(Important Note: Placing the card under the line of text you are reading is great for beginning readers and those who are learning how to decode words but not useful for experienced readers!)

Added Tip – Use the white card as a bookmark!

About the Author:

Abby Marks Beale is founder of The Corporate Educator, a professional speaking and training company specializing in helping with busy people work smarter, faster and just plain better. Go to

Abby also instructs the Reading Smart Workshop for Freedom Personal Development.

Test Where You Read Best
by On January 21, 2010

Abby Marks BealeLearn How To Spend Less Time Reading More

I am not surprised when people in my reading smart workshops tell me they tend to fall asleep while they read, especially work or study material.

My first question to them is “Where do you read?” Many of them say they read in bed, others say they read on a comfortable couch or their favorite reclining chair. Well, hello?! Think about it! If you are reading in these locations, then you might just be TOO comfortable!

Reading work or study material in a comfortable place is not the ideal place to expect to get a lot of reading done. This is because the brain has been conditioned to relax there. Your body is not poised to focus on reading for a long period of time. Nor is your body position conducive for highlighting or taking notes. It is great, however, for reading fiction or other material that doesn’t “count”, especially for the purpose of relaxing.

Where CAN you read so that the brain has been conditioned to work?

For some it is an uncluttered desk or cleared off kitchen table. For others, it is a quiet library or empty classroom. Think about it: If you can get the body to believe you are working, then it will! You will be able to get more reading done, with better concentration, and ultimately better comprehension.

Test Yourself:

For 10 minutes, read in your familiar comfortable place. Then move to a more conducive place and read for another 10 minutes. See which place you read more and with better concentration.

It is important to also consider the noise level surrounding you, but that is the subject of another tip!

About the Author:

Abby Marks Beale is founder of The Corporate Educator, a professional speaking and training company specializing in helping with busy people work smarter, faster and just plain better. Go to

How to Read the Entire Sunday Paper
by On January 7, 2010

Abby Marks BealeMyth –It is impossible to read a whole Sunday newspaper, on Sunday!  Did you know that a daily edition of a big city newspaper contains approximately the same number of words as a typical novel? And the Sunday edition contains the same number of words as four to six novels! No wonder you may feel overwhelmed by reading an entire Sunday newspaper!

Truth – You CAN read an entire Sunday paper, if you are very judicious with how you spend your time. Here is an easy-to-follow process:

1.  Get rid of the clutter

Start your process by getting rid of the unwanted circulars and sections that you don’t need or want to spend your time on. They get in your way and distract you. For me, I immediately remove the Real Estate section (unless I am looking to buy some), Help Wanted, and Sports (I get enough info from my husband and sons!)

2.  Set it up for faster reading

Lay the newspaper flat out on a table with all the sections neatly underneath. 

3. Organize the sections based on your interests

Looking at the cover page of each section, decide which ones intrigue you the most and prioritize them accordingly. This way, if you run out of time, you have read the sections of most value, to you.

4.  Skim the headlines

Look for articles of interest. Disregard those you have no interest in.

5.  Read the first few paragraphs

Most newspaper articles are written in an A-frame style: the most important, new information is upfront, then the other, unimportant or older news details follow.

6.  Continue reading if you want more

If not, don’t! And for those that know the faster reading techniques in Freedom Personal Development’s Reading Smart Workshop, use them to get through the text faster.

Wishing you more free time on your Sundays!

Abby Marks Beale is founder of The Corporate Educator, a professional speaking and training company specializing in helping with busy people work smarter, faster and just plain better. Go to

How Fast Do You Read?
by On December 21, 2009

Abby Marks BealeYou May Read Faster Than You Think

In the past fourteen years, I’ve worked with thousands of individuals who, previous to meeting me, had no idea what their true reading speed was. But they all had their self-made perceptions.

Most consider their reading speed to be slow with only a few believing it is fast. However, if you can get a true gauge on your reading speed and compare yours with others, you may find you are better and faster than you think!

So, let me help you figure your reading speed. The easiest way to do it is to go to my website where I have just added an on-screen reading speed evaluation called How Fast Do You Read?. It is located on the right upper corner of this page. It takes a minute or less to get a result.

If you want to figure your reading speed on paper materials, use the following formula:

  1. On any material with consistent column width, figure your average words per line:Choose any 10 lines of text and count the number of words in each line and divide by 10. If your total is 79 words, then the average words per line is 7.9 or round higher to 8.If your total is 93 words, then the average words per line is 9.3, or round lower to 9.
  2. Time yourself. Read for exactly one minute.
  3. Figure your words per minute. Count the number of lines you have read and multiply them by the figured average words per line. For example if you read 30 lines in 1 minute and the average words per line is 9, (30 X 9 = 270) your reading speed is 270 words per minute.

Improve Your Reading Speed – Freedom Personal Development’s Reading Smart Workshop

Abby Marks Beale is founder of The Corporate Educator, a professional speaking and training company specializing in helping with busy people work smarter, faster and just plain better. Go to