Is your day too short to get it all done? I know mine are. Are there additional hours hidden somewhere? I think so!
I like to listen to podcasts and/or audio books on the commute in to work. A couple months ago I was able to get an add-in for my android phone that plays the podcasts at up to 1.5x. Love it!
Coincidentally, one of the podcasts I came across covered the work of a blind programmer. How does he code then? He uses the accessibility features of windows to make the computer speak to him. Wow! That must be a challenge, and slow, and difficult, right? A challenge, yes. Slow? No! He cranks the speed of the speech way up so that it’s blazing through the text, window names, menu options, etc. Yes, it’s fast, but the mind adapts!
Reading = Time Warp
We teach ourselves to read over many years, improving as we go, so that we get to the point where we can absorb textual input faster than our mouths could naturally speak the words. And we skim text too, skipping through the text and noting the key words as we go. We train our minds to absorb text rapidly.
But audible input is typically produced at a relatively consistent rate. TV, radio, friends, etc. They all speak at around the same rate. We’re used to it. We can’t make the TV host talk faster, so why worry about it?
Enter Digital Audio
I can’t make my friends or TV talk faster, but I can speed up my digital content! We’ve been able to do this on our computers for a number of years. And increasingly, we can do this on portable media players too!
If I can get through a 60 minute presentation or podcast in 40 minutes, why not? That only requires a 1.5x speedup. And while that may sound fast, you’d be surprised at how quickly 1.5x begins to sound normal.
Plus, the mind stays focused on the topic at hand, increasing comprehension in some cases. I don’t know about you, but when a movie, TV show, or conversation is moving too slowly, I have to work extra hard to maintain interest. My mind starts wandering, as it waits for the interaction to get to the point! I loose interest and drift into other thoughts.
More Hours in my Day
I’m sure you get the idea already. If you can finish 60 minute task in 40 minutes, then you just earned 20 minutes of additional time!
20 extra minutes! That’s an additional TV show (minus commercials), a couple extra levels of Angry Birds, or an opportunity to learn more from the next podcast!
My commute is about 90 minutes total. If I listen to my stuff at 1.5x, I’ve saved 45 minutes of time. At home, if I watch a 45 minute video from channel 9and speed it up to 1.5x, I’ve saved another 15 minutes. That’s an hour of time! For free!
Up for the challenge?
I bet you’ll be used to 1.5x after a couple minutes of listening! If you push it, you can probably get used to 1.7x or 1.8x. I’ve set my phone’s Text to Speech codec to max speed so that I can have it read PDF versions of eBooks to me. It’s fast (~1.8x?), but the mind is an amazing organ! I am able to absorb the information, and I’m able to discern the words being hurled at me! Love it!
Give it a try and stuff a little more into your day. But be forewarned… Once you go fast, you’ll never want to go back!
What does this rapid speech experience do to you? Does it have side effects? Well, sort of…
I think my mind begins to operate at a faster rate and I find my self talking faster after listening to things at 1.5x. I’ll get home from work and find that my words can’t get out fast enough. For my wife, this is fine. She’s a naturally fast talker. Plus she’s always joked that I run on a slow processor that needs an upgrade!
So… side effects: You’ll think and talk faster. Is that so bad? I think not!
Tools I Use
On the PC, Windows Media Player has built in support for playback speed adjustments.
- Presto app with DoggCatcher to listen to podcasts.
- SVOX text to speech engine for improved TTS voices.
- ezPDF Reader for listening to PDFs via TTS.
On TV, I do love the DVR for skipping the commercials.