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Thu, 28 Jul 2005
Productivity Tips For Avid Blog Readers

This post from To-Done, "How to get the most of your blog reading" went around today.

Let's see how I did on their recommendations

Group your feeds by order of importance. You know, like “Must Read”, “Not So Important”, etc. This helps so much. If you group things by topic, re-group them by importance within your topic group. This makes the less important easier to ignore.

I'm doing this, and the groups are sorted in that order in the NetNewsWire groups list. Because I read exclusively in combined mode, the groups are also partitioned so that there are rarely more than 100 new posts per group (otherwise NetNewsWire collapses them for performance).

Set aside a time (or times) during your day to read. Try and stick to those times as strictly as possible.

Yep, twice a day, once in the AM and once in the PM. I have NetNewsWire set so that it does not refresh. Since I try to read at roughly the same times each day, I use a cron job to fire an applescript that does the refresh so that when I sit down to read, I'll be as close to up to date as possible.

Use “mark all as read” liberally.

I read what I want (or maybe send long posts to an embedded browser tab) and then mark all as read. At the end of all the groups, then I take a pass through the tabs. Use a tabbed browser that can handle the number of tabs you might leave open. This means using NetNewsWire's embedded browser -- sorry Firefox guys, you hang and crash too often.

Weed your reading list on a regular basis. Unsubscribe to anything you consider “noise” as soon as you realize it’s not being read

I could be doing better at this. NetNewsWire has a semi useful dinosaurs function which lets you punt old un-updated feeds. While this keeps the feed list low, it doesn't matter because I only see something if someone posts. What I really need is an attention gathering mechanism that knows if I've read a post or not, so that I could tell whether a feed is useful or not. I'd be willing to do a little work to mark posts so that this would work.

Set your newsreader to check only a few times a day, or if you use an online service, be sure and resist the urge to interrupt what you are doing and check for updates. Maybe to coincide with your reading times.

See above.

Make use of services like Del.icio.us, Digg and Technorati to find those diamonds in the rough.

I have two groups of special feeds, one for del.icio.us, digg, etc. and one for Technorati, Feedster, and PubSub searches. Use your del.icio.us inbox to make a reputational del.icio.us feed.

Slow down and read. Spend some time with those sites you really enjoy or those that you find real value in. I’ve found that if I spend more time reading and less time browsing I absorb more.

There are lots of ways to do this -- sometimes I read in place (thank you full feeds) other times I punt articles to browser tabs to read more carefully. Many times I defer the tab reading till the evening session.

Ditch a few link blogs. There are so many blogs out there that are just pointers to original content. These serve a great purpose, but try and find those that offer a unique point of view, or can bring items to the table that you can’t find elsewhere. I tend to follow the link lists of individuals I trust more than actual blogs devoted to linking.

I don't subscribe to linkblogs, except for Scoble's and his is low traffic now.

Keep in mind that if you read lots of blogs in the same space you’ll see things repeated and will be unlikely to miss anything you really should be reading.

Unfortunately, it means you'll see things repeated. I don't want to see the same post over and over. I also wish that aggregators would assemble conversations (threads across blogs) in one place -- that would speed the reading. Otherwise you are constantly context switching between all the conversations.

Understand that a day not paying attention to blogs is a day you can spend doing something productive. They’ll be there when you get back.

Yes, well. Um.

Here are a few tips that I though of while writing this post:

  • Only read full feeds. If you are reading lots of posts, there just isn't time to go clicking through.
  • If you are a geek blogger, read planets. Delete individual feeds that are up on a planet.
  • When I am scanning feeds in combined mode, I read two handed. I use a mouse in the right hand to click posts to tabs. I use a Griffin Technology PowerMate in the left hand to scroll the combined view quickly and smoothly
[22:32] | [computers/internet/weblogs] | # | TB | F | G | 2 Comments | Other blogs commenting on this post
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I work at the Open Source Applications Foundation (OSAF).
The opinions expressed here are entirely my own, not those of my employer.

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