Information overload is one of the biggest hurdles you’ll have to deal with on the road to being more productive. There is so much out there and it’s so damn easy to spend hours sorting through your favorite blogs and Web sites. I’ve always been pretty good in keeping my reading time under control, that is until I started really using NetNewsWire to subscribe to feeds. I went through a phase where I really felt overwhelmed by the amount of news coming in and amazingly huge number of unread items I’d have.
I decided shortly thereafter to put into place some kind of rules, and a process, to keep control of all the information. I needed to do this so that I could stay sane and keep focused on my work.
I imagine many of you feel the same way. I’ve been asked by readers about this and I think it’s something anyone who reads blogs could benefit from taking some time to look at and reevaluate.
If you’re interested, I’ve got a few tips that have helped me keep control of the information, stay focused and actually get more out of the blogs I do read. After all, how much can you really take in if you are flying through hundreds of posts a day?
h3. How to get the most of your blog reading
* Group your feeds by order of importance. You know, like “Must Read”, “Not So Important”, etc. This helps so much. If you group things by topic, re-group them by importance within your topic group. This makes the less important easier to ignore.
* Set aside a time (or times) during your day to read. Try and stick to those times as strictly as possible.
* Use “mark all as read” liberally.
* Weed your reading list on a regular basis. Unsubscribe to anything you consider “noise” as soon as you realize it’s not being read.
* Set your newsreader to check only a few times a day, or if you use an online service, be sure and resist the urge to interrupt what you are doing and check for updates. Maybe to coincide with your reading times.
* Make use of services like Del.icio.us, Digg and Technorati to find those diamonds in the rough.
* Slow down and read. Spend some time with those sites you really enjoy or those that you find real value in. I’ve found that if I spend more time reading and less time browsing I absorb more.
* Ditch a few link blogs. There are so many blogs out there that are just pointers to original content. These serve a great purpose, but try and find those that offer a unique point of view, or can bring items to the table that you can’t find elsewhere. I tend to follow the link lists of individuals I trust more than actual blogs devoted to linking.
* Keep in mind that if you read lots of blogs in the same space you’ll see things repeated and will be unlikely to miss anything you really should be reading.
* Understand that a day not paying attention to blogs is a day you can spend doing something productive. They’ll be there when you get back.