It’s all too easy to let your newsreader quickly fill with feeds from sites you find interesting, only to realize weeks later than you don’t have the time nor the interest to scan half of them. It only takes a couple days of being offline for thousands of unread posts to tell you that something is not working.
It’s important to devise a method to make sure you get the most out of your feeds, and make sure your feeds don’t drive you crazy.
h3. Weed your feeds
First, treat your newsreader as the place where only the best stuff lives. It’s your personal Ivy League school of information, so make sure that any feed that makes its way into your reader is qualified to be there.
Next, when you come across an interesting post at a new site, determine if it is a one-time resource or if the post is part of a site that you want to explore further. If it’s a one-time resource, tag it in del.icio.us and move on.
Then, rather than instantly subscribing to that new site based on one interesting post, keep it open in a tab in Firefox instead. Don’t be afraid to have up to a dozen or two tabs open at all times. Use the SessionSaver extension to remember your open tabs if you have to close Firefox (Saft for
Safari also does this). When you reopen Firefox, all your open tabs will reappear, allowing you to get back to work right where you left off.
Each day, browse through your open tabs to see what sites have content that still appeals to you. While it might seem like a waste of time to browse the actual site instead of the feed, you will get a better feel for the site. It’s similar to meeting someone and later chatting with them over IM. You have a better feel for who they are without actually being in front of them.
If a site fails to keep your interest over a few days, consider closing the tab and letting it go. If you’re not ready to let it go, keep the tab open a bit
longer or bookmark it in a folder labeled something like “Feeds to Ponder.” It’s too easy to add feeds to your newsreader and let the information get out of control. If you put the work into pre-qualifying feeds, you won’t be wasting as much time sifting through them, and you won’t feel that pit of despair when you let them collect over a few days of being away from the computer.
Once a week, take a look at the tabs that have been open for a while. Compare their content to similar sites that you already subscribe to. If they’re not adding information or making you see things in a different light, close the tab. If another good post comes along on that site, it will most likely show up in one of your existing feeds anyway.
RSS and newsreaders are only as good at managing information as the person who is doing the subscribing. As it becomes easier to subscribe, don’t let the quantity of feeds overrule the quality.
Author Bio: Britt Parrott is the communications manager for an engineering firm in Portland, Oregon, by day and a screenwriter by night. He posts most of his nonsense at Perhapses.