I believe RSS is one of the best inventions of the last decade. RSS news feed reading has made consuming information on the web so much easier. You can read content from hundreds of blogs and sites from a single interface. No need to visit them separately.
RSS is extremely useful without a doubt. But once you get into the feed reading mode, it can be quite addictive too. You keep checking the feeds one after the other, visiting sites, sharing articles, and, of course, losing track of time in the process.
RSS feeds are meant to keep you informed, not make you unproductive. Here are seven useful tips, which, if implemented correctly, could make sure that you stay productive even without giving your favorite website RSS feeds a miss. Check them out.
1. Use Google Reader and/or FeedDemon
This is a no-brainer. If you are using any other feed reading tool other than Google Reader (web based, offficial Google RSS reader) or FeedDemon (a desktop based RSS news aggregator), I’d say not only you are missing on some cool features, but you are also spending more time than you should reading feeds.
Both Google Reader and FeedDemon come with a great set of features like shortcuts, quick sharing, panic button(in FeedDemon) etc, that enhance your feed reading productivity . You can even sync Google Reader with FeedDemon quite well, so you could use both of them too.
2. Make use of keyboard shortcuts
I could go on and on while praising the usage of keyboard shortcuts, especially when it comes to feed reading with Google Reader or FeedDemon. Other RSS readers also provide keyboard shortcuts so don’t be worried if you are not ready yet to make the switch. But using keyboard shortcuts is a must when it comes to productive RSS feed reading.
Once you learn and use keyboard shortcuts, you won’t need to toggle between the mouse and keyboard frequently. And you can’t imagine the time it saves in the long run. Web Worker Daily has a great tutorial on Google Reader keyboard shortcuts.
3. Create a ‘ Top Feeds ‘ Folder
If you are subscribed to a hundred website feeds then it’s never a good idea to read them all everyday. Instead, it’s better to create a folder named “top feeds” or anything similar, and group the most important feeds, the ones which you can’t miss, under it.
The top feeds folder can contain main news sites, major blogs which publish daily, and blogs of friends and kins if any. Be selective while putting feeds in this folder. Only select a site which really deserves your time and attention every single day.
4. Set aside time
I think it’s important to set aside time for RSS feed reading everyday. You don’t need to read them all at one go. You could select 2-3 time intervals of 15-20 minutes each, spread evenly throughout the day. This would ensure that you stay abreast with the latest news around the world.
Setting aside time ensures that feed reading activity won’t interfere with your other tasks. You have set specific time intervals when the RSS reader gets your attention and those should be the only times when you open it. This technique is a part of batch processing tasks, which made Darren Rowse 10 times more productive.
5. Hit the panic button when required
Don’t hesitate to hit the “Mark all as read” or the panic button when you’ve got too many unread feeds and can’t decide which ones to read. This could happen when you’ve been out for some days and come back to find an overloaded RSS reader.
It’s always better to start with a clean slate instead of wasting time trying to find what you’ve missed. Don’t worry about that. The web is too dynamic and the information will find you through Twitter, Facebook and other such means. You won’t stay ignorant. So don’t worry.
6. Save some feeds for weekends
Like creating a top feeds folder is important, it’s also essential that you save some feeds for the weekend. This means you won’t touch these feeds on weekdays, no matter what. If you have spare time, do stuff like reading a book, watching a TED video or reading feeds which aren’t a part of top feeds or weekend reading.
Setting aside certain feeds only for the weekends would ensure that you aren’t tempted to read them during the week, when you need to focus on other tasks. Plus, it also helps to reduce your obsession with RSS feeds.
7. Use Reeder 2.0 for iPhone
If you read feeds on the iPhone, which I am sure many of you do, then I’ll recommend using Reeder 2.0, a nifty app for the purpose. For other mobile platforms like Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry, I think Google Reader’s native mobile interface should work fine. If you know of any cool apps for these devices then share them in the comments. I’d love to know.
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