Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
As I recently wrote, I have been working to pare down how much information I have coming into my life. I was taking in so much and it was becoming less and less valuable as I struggled to keep up with everything coming at me.
So I have gone on a media diet. I have been paring online information intake. Today’s article will show you how I got my online sources purged and to a reasonable level.
There is so much information out there on the web these days! If you want to know something, it can be found on the Web.
I was accumulating all sorts of site that I wanted to look at regularly. These sites included information on just about everything, including news, blogs, and general information.
The first thing I did was consolidate my news. When Google announced that it was doing away with its iGoogle interface, I had switched to finding my news on the various news sites. I went back to something similar to iGoogle, called IGHome.com. I put all my news feeds onto one page there and now I check one place for news.
But there is more…I noticed that I had too much news coming at me. So I limited my news sources to NPR and the BBC coverage of the U.S. I find that I get the major stuff without the obsessive star-crazed and over-analyzing of tragedies. After all, I really don’t care what happens in Justin Bieber’s or any of the Kardashian’s lives. It simply is noise in my world.
General websites (not blogs) that I was checking frequently were usually about inspiration. By switching all of these to deliver to my email, I stopped having to go to various places every morning for inspiration.
This also had the wonderful effect of speeding up my initial browser launch, because fewer tabs were loading.
The only part of our local newspaper that I read regularly is the comics. Because we do not get the paper daily, I had been getting the Comics by going to the online versions every day. Even in RSS, I was still having to click through to websites to see the funnies.
I replaced this with two outlets: the first is the Arcamax application for my iPad, which brings my favorite comics to me daily in an app, and the GoComics website, which allows me to tag my favorites and scroll through only my favorites. I read both of these while I am eating breakfast. While some people might consider it noise, I like starting my day this way.
Blogs are websites, but I rarely read the blogs on the web. I use RSS, which I won’t try to define because there are many variations of what the letters supposedly stand for. RSS is simply a way to take all of the blogs your read and get the content in one place.
Even with Google Reader (my reader of choice) going away in July, I am still doing RSS. Mr. Reader, the software I use to read blogs, will do something, and I will follow it along because the software makes the feeds manageable.
Even if you think a blog doesn’t offer an RSS feed, it probably does. If I can’t find the button, I just add “/feed/” to the URL and I will generally be presented with the RSS feed.
Funny that I should just have talked about adding feeds to my RSS reader…because this was the place I did the most purging.
When I looked at all the blogs I was following, it was nearly 300. Some of those feeds published once a week. Most publish daily. And some put out dozens of articles per day.
And the quality of the information was not worth having to wade through all the articles.
I first grouped my blogs into categories. Things like productivity, organization, parenting are the main categories. I made myself stick to the rule of one category per blog, because otherwise it felt like I never escaped some of the larger blogs’ reaches.
Some of the blogs brought limited value. These blogs are rehashes of other people’s blogs, topics warmed over. If there was a blog that consolidated these type of blogs, I kept the consolidation and let the others go (Lifehacker stayed, and 12 blogs left).
Some of the blogs were interesting from a novelty standpoint, but the news really doesn’t impact me. So they went. Fast Company was one of these.
Some of the blogs I found highly entertaining, but yet they didn’t bring me any practical value. These were the hardest to let go of, but Tanis Miller and The Bloggess went with much regret.
The rest of the blogs I looked at for three weeks. If I didn’t open an article from these blogs in that three week period, the blogs were sidelined. Whether this is the fault of poor headlines or just a mismatch between me and the material, I needed to clean these out.
End result: 56 feeds.
It took some struggle, but I finally got the web information down to a reasonable level. By changing the way I got my news, changing some websites for apps and email, converting others to RSS and then drastically reducing my RSS feed numbers, I feel like I have changed this from crashing ocean waves to gentle lakefront waves.
Photo by epSos.de. Licensed under Creative Commons.