How To Power Through 350+ RSS Subscriptions With Google Reader

As a tech blogger, I have to be looking everywhere for new stuff to post on. Over the past few years since I’ve started using Google Reader, I have accumulated just over 350 RSS feeds that I keep track of, and no, I won’t share my OPML file with you. However, I do want to share how I am able to filter through this massive load of content to find the good stuff, and still find time to blog and do other stuff, as well. According to Google Reader’s Trends, over the past 30 days I have read 8,076 items. I’ve been on vacation for the past week, too. That’s an average of 270 items, every day, to filter through. My friend Ken Camp showed how and why he uses Bloglines, which works great for him, but not for me.

First off, why do I use Google Reader, among the other RSS readers out there? Easy – it’s everywhere, on anything. Since it’s web-based, I can access my Google Reader anywhere, be it a laptop, netbook, or even my S60-powered smartphone. What’s great about this is that my reading list is always the same. If I catch a few minutes to filter through 30-50 items on my phone, those items are marked read, so that I don’t see them again on my computer that afternoon, and vice versa. It really helps that I can access this from anywhere, anytime. I also like how it works and organizes stuff.

When I start my day, I open up Google Reader, press F11 (to put my browser in fullscreen mode) and press U (to toggle the sidebar off). I’m not sitting in front of a display showing ONLY my Google Reader items. So, how do I get through so many things without missing the good stuff? In a SNP, that’s how. I have my fingers on three buttons on the keyboard: S, N, and P. These are crucial. N is for next, and scrolls down to the next item. P is for previous, and goes back one. I use these to quickly scroll through, reading the headlines and any excerpt I have for every single item. The S is where the magic happens, though.

S is for star, and it marks the currently highlighted item as starred, and puts it into my Starred Items feed. Basically, I go through my RSS extremely quickly, only resting on each item long enough to read the headline and determine if it it’s something I’ll want to read or blog about later. If it is, I put a star on it and click next. I do this until I’ve cleared out all the unread items, just like that.

Now, I can go back to my Starred Items list, which is a filtered, condensed list of things that I want to spend some time on. Usually, I’ll go through this list, middle-clicking with the scroll wheel on my mouse to open each item in a new tab. Alternatively, you could use something like Better Greader to view them without having to open in tabs. I just like tabs, is all.

The process of filtering through is obviously going to depend on your ability to quickly determine the value of something, specifically when given limited information such as a headline or an excerpt. It’s also something you’ll get better at as you go along.

How do you manage the massive influx of information that is thrown at you each day? Any better tips?

  • http://twitter.com/s_constantine Stefan Constantinescu

    Why don’t you want to share your OPML file?

    Anyway, the hot keys I use: F11 for full screen like you, U, like you, j for down, k for up, v to open the item. I star things I REALLY want to come back to, but most times I just hit m which marks a read item as unread.

    In Firefox I also type in about:config and enable tabs to open in the background without taking focus. This can let me open tabs, but not be taken to the tab.

    Now that I use Google Chrome I don’t have that feature, but oh well, I get speed!

  • http://twitter.com/s_constantine Stefan Constantinescu

    Why don’t you want to share your OPML file?

    Anyway, the hot keys I use: F11 for full screen like you, U, like you, j for down, k for up, v to open the item. I star things I REALLY want to come back to, but most times I just hit m which marks a read item as unread.

    In Firefox I also type in about:config and enable tabs to open in the background without taking focus. This can let me open tabs, but not be taken to the tab.

    Now that I use Google Chrome I don’t have that feature, but oh well, I get speed!

  • http://edythemighty.com/ edythemighty

    @Stefan: I thought that was default Firefox behavior to not go to a new tab…Oh well. Whatever works.

    A lot of people have redundancy in their feeds. Ton of feeds that have entries relating to the same thing, with a ton of in-between linking (I’m looking at you, you crazy mobile tech bloggers). Also, a lot of feeds that you only read for an ocassional insightful article on X subject. I’ve lately started using Newsfire, a desktop feed reader for Mac, and just use its Smart Feeds, which group everything nicely through fine-tuned controls, much the same way you’d make an iTunes Smart Playlist (I don’t use iTunes, but hey….)

    In any case, a web-based alternative would be the excellent Yahoo Pipes. It might seem daunting, but just pipe some feeds that run similar themes through an Item.Title filter and boom! In my case, I combine a lot of linux blogs, since more often than not they will cover the hot topic of the day, which is usually some obscure kernel patch or something….but I digress. A similar filter would work great for *pauses to look at Ricky’s tag cloud* Facebook posts! I’m glossing over the possibilities, but that’s a pretty fine example for me to write at 1:30am, me thinks. Cheerio!

  • http://edythemighty.com edythemighty

    @Stefan: I thought that was default Firefox behavior to not go to a new tab…Oh well. Whatever works.

    A lot of people have redundancy in their feeds. Ton of feeds that have entries relating to the same thing, with a ton of in-between linking (I’m looking at you, you crazy mobile tech bloggers). Also, a lot of feeds that you only read for an ocassional insightful article on X subject. I’ve lately started using Newsfire, a desktop feed reader for Mac, and just use its Smart Feeds, which group everything nicely through fine-tuned controls, much the same way you’d make an iTunes Smart Playlist (I don’t use iTunes, but hey….)

    In any case, a web-based alternative would be the excellent Yahoo Pipes. It might seem daunting, but just pipe some feeds that run similar themes through an Item.Title filter and boom! In my case, I combine a lot of linux blogs, since more often than not they will cover the hot topic of the day, which is usually some obscure kernel patch or something….but I digress. A similar filter would work great for *pauses to look at Ricky’s tag cloud* Facebook posts! I’m glossing over the possibilities, but that’s a pretty fine example for me to write at 1:30am, me thinks. Cheerio!

  • http://www.dani2xll.com/ dani

    I am not a professional blogger nor much more than someone who sees something of interest that a wap-only forum i am on, will find of interest and i have gone through nearly 5000 of 120 feeds already this month. I do have my settings on “show expanded”. I dont find the list option to give me enough information for me to actually digest. I have yet to master the filtering of blogs and news that are duplicates of what are in other blogs. Any pointers would be great.

  • http://www.dani2xll.com dani

    I am not a professional blogger nor much more than someone who sees something of interest that a wap-only forum i am on, will find of interest and i have gone through nearly 5000 of 120 feeds already this month. I do have my settings on “show expanded”. I dont find the list option to give me enough information for me to actually digest. I have yet to master the filtering of blogs and news that are duplicates of what are in other blogs. Any pointers would be great.

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