S&P #003

[4 min read]

After reading a friend’s post about her recent switch to Google Reader, I figured it’s a bit time for my next S&P post (…for those who forgot, these are things that I’ve done to increase efficiency and productivity in my life [without losing purpose]- Simple and Purposeful).
In my first two posts, I covered using folders (filters, and quick responses) in Gmail to clean out your inbox, as well as iGoogle to speed up necessary data retrieval and limit unnecessary browsing/searching/clicking. Of the 3 things I have on my iGoogle, one of them is Google Reader. It collects all the xml/rss feeds that I go desire (blogs, news, etc.) and organizes it in a setup similar to an inbox. It pulls new material as it comes in and can be sorted just like e-mail.

Being the organizational madman I am, I immediately went to the route that many others might go to prove a faux-efficiency/organization. I subscribed to all the sites I wanted to, and immediately placed them in folders/labels according to what they were about: photography, productivity, religion, friends’ blogs, etc. Now, I like this setup for e-mail because it really speeds up search time when looking back at old e-mails. But for blogs and daily news, this really doesn’t speed up efficiency. There are some blogs that I care for more than others, and some sites (specifically news) that have a new story every 10 minutes, and so my google reader then fills up rather quickly.
The solution to this is by organizing not by content, but by personal importance. In addition to the original labels (because I can’t force myself to not organize things like that), I’ve made a couple special labels that all my feeds fall into:

  • Must Read: I definitely want to know the content of this as it comes up.
  • Should Read: Good information to know, but not life altering (…really, what is though?)
  • Bonus: If I get time, this would be some nice reading, but I’m in no rush.
  • News: Between 10 different sites, I get 100 updates an hour…I’ll deal with you later.

Now, I set up my iGoogle widget for the Google Reader to only show me the feeds from my ‘Must Read’ category. This cut the amount of blog sources that I get up-to-the-minute updates from almost in half, but more importantly the total number of blog posts and news stories are drastically reduced. Again, I quickly check my homepage to see the new content, breeze through them through little pop-ups, and go on with my work. If I have time, I’ll go into Google Reader and walk through the ‘Should Read’ group, and continue on down depending on how much free time I have.
So read the info you need to have, and don’t worry about the junk stuff until later.

Oh, and some tips:
– At the end of the day, you should just click on the “Mark all as read” button for news…if you missed it that day, oh well. If it’s important enough, it’ll come back tomorrow.
– To quickly scroll through the posts, press the j-key to move to the next post, and the k-key to move to a previous post. This is really helpful when there’s some really long post that you don’t really care for so you don’t have to keep scrolling for eternity.
– If you find read something really good, SHARE IT with me! First we have to be friends on gTalk or google chat, but afterwards, at the bottom of each post there’s a ‘Share’ button, and when you click that, I get sent the same article. I love reading what other people find important.