Checklists to Simplify Magazine Reading

Tuesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivityBlog

Photo by fotosAs I looked around my reading chair for my dropped scissors last night, I spied the magazine basket. It was full overflowing again. Just knowing I have a backlog of reading causes me to not want to read any magazines at all!

I make an effort not to bring too many magazines into the house, because I will quickly become overwhelmed. Once a year I purge my magazines using the following checklist:

Simplifying the Magazines

  • Photo by fotosMake a list of what you are reading regularly. Pick up your magazine pile and list the titles. This should include not only the subscriptions, but also magazines you have bought on the newsstand.
  • Photo by fotosGet rid of subscriptions you don’t read. Maybe your are sent a magazine as a result of a charitable donation or membership, or your tastes have shifted, or you have been given a gift subscription. If you don’t regularly and enthusiastically read the magazine, call or write the publisher and cancel your subscription. The information is generally available on the inside of the magazine, near the publisher information.
  • Photo by fotosAdd subscriptions where you are buying the magazine regularly. If you have found yourself buying a magazine regularly and enthusiastically read it, get a subscription. Not only will it save you money, but buying the magazine at the newsstand is one more thing you won’t have to remember.
  • Photo by fotosIf it is more than 1 cycle old, recycle it. Don’t kid yourself. You won’t go back and catch up. If you have more than one daily newspaper, get rid of everything but today’s copy. Monthly magazines? Keep the most current, recycle the rest.

Managing Magazine Reading

Once you have the quantity of information under control, you can simplify the digestion of information so you don’t get behind again. Here is my checklist:

  • Photo by fotosDecide what you get out of each magazine: ads? special articles? regular features? Once you know what you are looking for, you know what you can ignore. One of my scrapbooking magazines I use for design ideas. One magazine I read the main articles, but skip the ads. One magazine I make a point to read the ads. Another periodical I only read the articles on gardening, and skip the ones on homesteading.
  • Photo by fotosRead each magazine with your purpose in mind. When you are reading, remember what you read for. Skip everything else. This will allow you to rapidly go through the magazine.
  • Photo by fotosSkim articles. Most magazine articles are written to snag you, tell you what you will read, expound, then summarize. Read the first few paragraphs, and if you’re not interested, move on.

Photo by fotos


  1. Eli says

    Another idea that you can add to the list is to cut out the articles that you want to keep. I used to have hundreds of fitness magazines. I kept them for recipes for healthy foods, workouts, etc. One day I decided to go through all the magazines and cut out the articles and stories that I wanted. I ended up with less than 10% of the total volume in the end. If I was more apt to organize them, I could use a simple, portable file folder, They would fit easier and would be more accessible. Hmm… Add that to my someday/maybe list.

    Another hint is that the articles from some magazines are on their website (perhaps not right away, but eventually).

  2. LJ says

    Excellent point. I have tried to get out of the habit of saving articles, but it is definitely better to save articles instead of the whole magazines. When I do save articles, they go into my filing cabinet (appropriately labeled) and then reviewed at the end of the year.