Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
One of the things that comes along with writing a blog about improving ourselves is that I consume many blogs as well. If I didn’t have a method in place to help me with this process, I would soon be overwhelmed with massive amounts of out-of-date information. Here is my method for processing blogs:
The first key in managing blog reading is to have the blogs come to me rather than having to go to the blogs. I use Google Reader as my blog catcher. I like it because there are a lot of keyboard shortcuts built-in, and because I can flag articles with a star.
Read It Later
The next part of the arsenal is a service called Read It Later. This free service, found at ReadItLaterList.com, allows me to store my reading list on the ‘net, accessible from many places. Read It Later also integrates with Google Reader via a Firefox add-on, so I can put an article on the list with a single keystroke from within Reader.
The next part of the trio is the on-line bookmarking service Del.icio.us. Using a Firefox add-on, I can bookmark any site with a two-key shortcut.
I make multiple passes at the information to get it where it needs to be. Here is the process:
The Initial Screening
From within Google Reader, I will quickly go through the articles. I click in the left-hand pane at my top grouping of folders (see Blog Reading For Beginners) and using Shift+x to open and close a folder, I go to each blog (Shift+n) and open it in the reading pane (shift+o). The individual articles are set to display as a list, oldest article first. By using the keys n and p I can move to the next/previous articles quickly. If I see something I like, I will press the key i to insert it into my readi it later list. When I have finished scanning all the titles, I press Shift+a to mark everything read.
Some of my blogs I always read in place. I love the pictures at OddlySpecific, so I will press the space bar to open up the article and read it. (Here’s a little-known secret about me: if a blog doesn’t have full content showing in its feed, I unsubscribe.)
I perform the above process about once a week. (Maybe twice if it’s really slow at work.)
Reading It Later
Once I have my articles selected, I switch to using the Read It Later add on for Firefox. I open up a new tab in Firefox, and click on the Read It Later button. This brings up the oldest page in my list (oldest by when I saved it). At this point I will either skim it or read it thoroughly, and decide what to do with it. I have four things I can possibly do with an article: take action on it in my personal life, either immediately or on a “someday” list; mark it for use in the open loop segments for this blog; save the location in my bookmarks; or discard the article.
For the first three, I use the Del.icio.us add-on for Firefox. By pressing Ctrl+D, I open the Del.icio.us window and I can enter the appropriate tag: @Action, @openloop, or something to file the page under.
When I am done with the article, I press Alt+W to mark the page as read in Read It Later, and to load the next one in my list.
To take care of anything that needs further attention, I have to look at both the @Action and @openloop tags in Del.icio.us. Once a week, I take the information in the @action and enter it into my tracking system. @Openloops are left until the next time I need to write an Open Loop article.
I hope this gives you an idea of how I process the blogs I read. Currently on my reading list is 102 blogs. Yet I spend less than three hours a week processing all that information.
Photo by HiMY SYeD / photopia