How Long Is Five Minutes? Boost Your Reading Speed With These Ideas

How long is five minutes? That’s the question most of us have been asking since high school. It’s also the question most of us want to know, but never get straight answers for. Here’s why:

  • When we ask that question, we assume we’re just asking it to ourselves. We don’t really want an answer right away – we want one within a reasonable amount of time. So we search around, trying to find a number of minutes that seems reasonable, and then we put it in our head. But the reality is this: there is no such thing as how long five minutes is.
  • We only have our short time horizons to judge by. And those are really only a few seconds. So if you ask yourself, “How long is five minutes?” you can’t answer accurately. You can’t tell if it’s a second or a minute or even a half hour. So you can’t make a distinction between “long” and “short.”

So what’s the real answer to that question?

  1. You have to give it to yourself. It really is only a few seconds.
  2. Five minutes is really about seven seconds in real time.
  3. Now, you might be saying “seven seconds! That’s not a lot of time!”
  4. But think about the question for a second. 

Seven seconds is the maximum amount of time it takes you to reply back to a text. If you send someone a message, and you leave it unanswered, do you really expect them to call you back within that amount of time? No way. So when you actually get into the conversation, you can tell people “I’m going to have to take a few seconds to reply, but I’ll be back in a few.”

Boost Your Reading Speed

Here’s another scenario. You’ve finished reading a chapter of your book, and you want to get an idea of how it ends. So you pick up your phone and you write down the last five minutes of your book. Can you tell people that you spent approximately seven seconds reading your book? Probably not.


In these examples, “how long is five minutes?” is really very short. If you want to really get into the minute details, you need to write down your entire reading. Then, go back in your head and write down the times that you think you may have forgotten something. Write down anything else you thought you might have missed.

How many pages do you read in a minute?

Then you need to figure out how much time you’ve actually read. Write down how many pages you read in a minute or an hour. Then compare that number to the total number of pages you read in a day. This should give you a pretty good idea of how long you need to read in order to improve your reading speed.

Start looking at different ways to speed read

Once you know how much time you need to devote to reading, you can start looking at different ways to speed read. One of the things you can do is to arrange your books so that you’re spending the most time looking at the stuff on the end. Think about those two chapters from the beginning and the end of each of the chapters. Those are the parts of your book that are the most important to read, so you need to spend as much time as possible looking at those pages.

Read Faster

Another trick is to look at the sentences in a piece of writing. Find the longest, most descriptive sentence in the piece of writing, read it, and then try to condense it into five minutes or less. You’ll find that this usually makes the reading faster. If you’re reading an article, you can condense the whole article into five minutes or less. Then you can read the article over a period of time without stopping to think about what you’ve read.

Improve Your Reading Speed

If you find that reading doesn’t seem to be improving your reading speed, then you might need to increase the amount of time you spend reading. You can use a metronome or a timer to help you keep track of how long you’re reading. Set the timer to remind you to read a certain number of words every time you turn the page. The goal with these timers is to find one that you can rely on and remember to turn it off. Set one timer per page or per word. Find a timer that works for you and don’t switch it off until you’re through with it.

Reading is a skill that requires practice. If you’re having trouble reading, you might want to experiment with increasing your reading comprehension skills. Over time, you can work on your reading speed and find a pace that works for you. When you start seeing improvements, you’ll be on the road to a greater ability to read.

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