Monday, October 03, 2011

How to daily keep up on 125+ different blogs

Last week I shared a large list of many of the blogs that I follow on a regular basis. The type of blogs I peruse are normally in the topic range of ministry, tech, culture, leadership, art/creativity, theology/Bible, and then various people who inspire and challenge me. If you still haven't checked out Seth Godin's blog, you are missing out! He's had some real killer posts lately.

All in all, I follow over 125 different blogs, for the most part on a daily basis. It's not impossible, it's actually pretty easy. Here's how you do it:

Learn Google Reader
Any blog that you want to follow should have some type of "Subscribe" button on it. Another option may be that your internet browser of choice has a "Subscribe" button. Just like when you subscribe to a newspaper or magazine it is delivered on a regular basis, so subscribing to a blog brings you its content whenever posts are made. Upon hitting subscribe on a blog you are able to choose which reading site you want to send your subscription to. Send it to Google Reader! Google Reader is the easiest and best way to keep track of blogs. In Google Reader you are able to read all of your blog post subscriptions. But you are also able to: organize your subscriptions by category, favorite ones you want to save for later, share blogs you are reading with others, and search for new blogs based on your preferences. The following site can give you a complete overview on how to setup and begin using the site: Google Reader Overview. Not using a site like Google Reader means you are bookmarking a ton of sites and in turn are having to go in and manually open each website to the day's post. Or you are getting an email for every new post, clogging up your inbox. With Google Reader - everything is one place, and you get no emails. It literally becomes the mailbox/organizer for all of your blogs.
Use software & apps to keep up
When I'm on my computer I normally just read blog posts within the Google Reader site itself. However, there are many PC/Mac applications out there for going through your Google Reader subscriptions. There are also a ton of apps you can download for reading on your phone/tablet. You just have to read reviews and find the ones that work for you. These are my preferences:
  • On the Mac: the actual website or the Reeder application
  • On the iPhone/iPad: MobileRSS
Still getting into the swing of using Reeder, as it's easier for me to just read off the actual G.R. site. However, Reeder is a lot better visually and has some really good features for sharing and saving. Being able to read posts on my phone though is a huge help, and MobileRSS is superb. It syncs everything up, you're able to save/share with ease, and it's really easy to read off of. Probably over half of my blog reading time is done through MobileRSS.
Find the best time to read
If you read blogs throughout the day you'll never get anything done (replace in that sentence the word "blogs" with "social media" and you've learned the biggest reason for being nonproductive). It's best to establish some basic windows of time where you'll do your reading. Going through blogs is a good "first thing in the morning" task for me, and also at night as I'm laying in bed about to fall asleep. If you are using a mobile app though, getting caught up on blogs is a great way to pass the time while waiting in line at Target or the DMV. The mobile apps are also great for the throne room. The key is to set up boundaries: I will read during these times, I won't read during these.
Learn to skim
Once you have the above steps down, the next thing is the easy part: don't read every blog post. And no, that is not cheating. The title of this post has carefully chosen words. "Keep up on 125+ different blogs," is not the same thing as, "Read every post in 125+ different blogs." You have to learn to pass over what isn't important to you. I skim the titles, looking for things that grab me. For example, the Movie/TV blogs I follow cover so many shows and flicks, many I could care less about. When I skim the blog titles in MobileRSS I'm able to pass up what is irrelevant to me for the things I'm really interested in reading about. Tonight my "tech" folder had over 100 posts in it. It took about 60 seconds to skim through all of the titles, and I probably only read 5-10 posts. Skimming is the key - read what's important, let everything else get removed.

Contrary to what some would say, there's a lot of good stuff out there on the web for every aspect of life. For me, the above steps are how I keep up on it all. Maybe it will be a help to you.

For those already into reading blogs: 
  • What programs/apps have you found to be really good and helpful? Which were really bad?
  • Any other suggestions you would add to those mentioned above?


Daniel Benjamin said...

Mobilerss got slammed in the developer community for copying a lot of design elements from reeder. It left a sour taste in mouth that led me to try reeder. I live using it and you should really try the iPhone app, it has a few more features than the desktop version since its been around longer.

bobby moss said...

I'll have to check out Reeder on your phone next time I see you Daniel. It's getting a few 1-star reviews now for crashing, but I'd still like to see it.