Two Sundays back, I asked for help managing my Google Reader. I had lots of great suggestions and encouragement from commenters and anonymous survey takers. Several people also asked me to pass the tips I received along, and I’m happy to do so.
Tip #1: Set limits / Prioritize
- Read blogs in whatever order you choose, but when your allotted time is up, mark everything else as read.
- Only look at your reader once a day.
- Put a cap on the number of blogs you let yourself subscribe to.
- Visit commenters’ blogs first, then favorite blogs, then others, depending on time.
Tip #2: Scan / Sort
- Scan post titles and read only the posts whose titles suck you in.
- When you’re short on time, sort through posts, keeping ones you’d like to read in depth as unread. When you have more time, go back and revisit those saved up posts.
- Skim posts you don’t want to read in depth. If you want to comment, leave a brief comment instead of a response to each aspect of the post.
- Skip meme posts.
Tip #3: Organize
- Pull blogs you like to read more frequently out of your lineup and put them in their own folder in your reader.
- Sort blogs into folders according to how important it is to you that you read them (such as must read daily, enjoy reading but not vital, nice to read if you have extra time).
- Sort blogs into folders alphabetically. Tackle a different block of the alphabet each day.
- Create folders based on reading frequency: for instance, a daily folder for blogs you read every day and a weekly folder for blogs you look through on the weekends, when you have more free time.
- When you unsubscribe, make a note of the blog. It makes unsubscribing easier if you don’t feel like you’re losing track of the blog.
Tip #4: Switch (or Add) Tools
- Gmail offers an extensive labeling system if you subscribe to blogs via email. Label emails about new posts with things like “must read,” “looks fun,” etc. and get rid of the rest. Prioritize the important labels and save the others for when you have more time.
- A Firefox plug-in called Brief helps you keep track of how many unread posts await you, among other things.
- A desktop reader instead of a web-based one can work better for some people.
Tip #5: Be Selective
- Implement a trial period for new-to-you blogs. Keep them in a separate folder for the duration. If a new blog doesn’t win you over within a month (or the time period you choose), unsubscribe.
- Cull blogs regularly.
- Set up a “Probation” folder for blogs that post too often or that you suspect might not be for you.
- Keep in mind you don’t have to subscribe to a blog to interact with the blogger.
Tip #6: Reset
- If your reader gets overwhelming, it’s ok to mark everything as read and start over! Sometimes it just has to be done.
- If you use a folder system, focus on your favorite or daily folder and mark the other folders read when you need to.
Tip #7: Let Go of Guilt!
- Don’t feel obligated to read/comment on every post in your reader.
- If reading a certain blog feels like a chore, don’t feel bad about unsubscribing.
- Don’t feel obligated to subscribe to every blog you encounter.
- Remember that blogging is supposed to be fun!
- Keep in mind that other people are often short of time, too, so they’ll understand.
I’d say that’s a pretty good list! I’ve implemented a couple of these strategies already, and I can tell they are helping. One more time, a huge thank you to everyone who participated in my survey!
Did we miss anything?