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How to go through RSS feeds quickly (and not let it eat your day)

by Celine on October 20th, 2007

If you’re a blog addict, odds are you subscribe to hundreds of sites.  These sites often have multiple updates, so you thought you’d go through all of them more quickly if you used an RSS reader.  Now that you have the reader, you’re still viewing hundreds of site updates a day.  How do you go through all that without watching your life pass you by?

You don’t have to read everything.  That’s right - you really don’t.  Simply scan for headlines that contain keywords which interest you.  Read those and ignore the rest.  I use GreatNews as a feedreader, and like most readers it also lets me click on headlines and bookmark them.  If you can do this with your feed reader, you can postpone reading some entries until later.  If you read everything in one go, it’ll definitely eat up a lot of your time.

Categorize your feeds.  You can organize feeds into different categories such as “Friends’ Blogs”, “Business”, “Job Listings”, etc.  Arrange them according to importance.  If your feed reader insists on arranging the feed categories alphabetically, place a priority number before each category, with 1 being the most urgent.  By doing this, you can go through your priority feeds first without having to read all the things that don’t require immediate attention.

 Orient your feed display for better vertical scanning. GreatNews lets me select the type of format I want to view the feeds in.  I used to view it with a table-like format that had rows and columns.  The downside? It wasn’t optimal for quick scanning.  My eye movement had to go from left to right, trying to read headlines in each column.  Now, I changed to format so that all the feed headlines will be displayed like a long list.  This allows my eyes to simply scroll down and scan for updates that I really want to read.

Trim down your list.  Eventually, you’ll notice that you read some feeds more often than the others.  If you seem to skip reading feeds from a specific site, it’s best to remove it from your reader.  After all, skipping over those items regularly also eats up your time.

If you want more information on RSS reading productivity, Rober Scoble has an interesting video on Tim Ferriss’ blog with additional RSS reading tips. (It’s in video!)

POSTED IN: Software tips, Time savers

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