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?