Feed readers, like Google Reader, are great for keeping up with frequently-updated web sites. But you also need to keep on top of them – otherwise you end up with a dauntingly-huge number of unread items. Other than being incredibly busy at work, part of the reason why there hasn’t been much posted here this week is because I’ve been trying to plough through my feeds.
Thankfully Lifehacker has some tips for making your feeds more manageable. In particular, it tells you how to use Google Reader’s Trends feature to weed out feeds that you aren’t reading, or that are busier than your others. I’ve unsubscribed from a few as a result, since I wasn’t reading them very often.
I have some further tips – one is to use a service like Read It Later. Treat your feed reader like a newspaper – read any short items and skim-read anything longer. If any longer articles are interesting, send them to Read It Later, so that you can read them properly later on. The other is to use an app like Byline, which lets you skim-read headlines and then mark any items that don’t interest you as read, leaving those that you may actually want to read. To do this, open a feed or folder and click edit in the top-right, then untick any items that don’t interest you.
There’s also a couple of points that I touched on the last time I hit ‘feed overload’, back in August 2008.
At the end of the day, if reading feeds becomes a chore, then you’re probably trying to read too much.