Monday, August 22, 2011

Tackling the Reading List

I read a lot of other blogs. I'm subscribed to about 190 blogs, which publish about 500 posts/day. Fortunately, I use Google Reader, which makes it easy to skim through those posts and decide which ones I really want to read; I only read a very small percentage of those 500 daily posts! But sometimes I'll scan the posts and "star" those I want to read later, rather than reading them right away.

And that's a fine strategy — except the number of starred items I had was approaching 950, which felt seriously out of control. So I had a project this past weekend to finally clear up my Reader.

And, like any organizing project, this meant I was making decision after decision. Do I still want to read this item, or watch the associated video? Do I want to keep this post for future reference?

And I found I hit the same kind of stumbling blocks we often find in other decluttering situations.

1. No clear "home" for something I want to keep.
I "store" my posts in a big list of bookmarked sites, organized into many bookmark folders. And I found that many of the items that lingered in my "starred" list were things where I wasn't sure where to file the post — where my filing system for bookmarked sites wasn't working for me. So I did some reorganizing of my filing structure, until everything I wanted to keep had a logical home.

2. A tendency to let time-consuming items linger on my list forever.
That might be a long post, or a pointer to a long video. I need to be sure to set aside time to read and watch these items — or let them go.

3. A tendency to keep things I really won't ever refer to again
When I see something neat on the web — whether it's an organizing-related product, some place I'd like to visit, or just something that makes me laugh — my first tendency is to bookmark it and file it away.

But when am I really going to go back and look at that post about some Italian furniture that, while cool, isn't something I'm likely to blog about, or recommend to a client? That might be a really cute photo of Paul Krugman and his cats — but do I really need to keep it? And that might be interesting information — but could I easily find it again, if I ever really wanted it, just by using Google? I had to stop myself, over and over, from keeping stuff that I just don't need.

But now I'm down to 13 starred items — and I'll get the count down to zero, except I wanted to take a break and write this post first. And I'm pretty darn pleased with myself!


Barbara@BabyBloggingBoomer said...

Jeri you are so right. I have gazillions of saved items that could be found again if needed. There are also craft objects, I'll never make and sewing projects for the machine I haven't pulled out of my closet in two years. It really does hurt to clean out your bookmarks, favorites or saved items but now that you've thrown the gauntlet, I'll have to do it to. Thanks for the nudge. Good back to school project while getting organized is around us.

Michelle said...

I love Google Reader too. I generally leave it until I read it. Articles that I particularly like go in Delicious. I don't do too much thinking about whether I'll actually refer to it later because I can find anything pretty quickly there. I'm positive that most of the links will never be revisited but they're saved just in case. I let the cloud deal with the clutter :) Delicious tags makes everything better.

Cynthia Friedlob said...

I'm very impressed with your organizing project. Digital clutter often plagues me -- as if the tangible stuff weren't enough.

I did look at the picture of Paul Krugman (did *not* bookmark it!) and I love that his cats are named Doris Lessing and Albert Einstein.

Jeri Dansky said...

Barbara, it's nice that it's the type of project you can do in a spare 15 minutes here and there (unless you've got a HUGE backlog like I did and need a chunk of dedicated time).

Michelle, I agree that Delicious can be a great option, even thought it's not the right one for me, personally. Thanks for mentioning it.

Cynthia, I loved the cat names, too.

LeeAnne said...

Congrats! I've been trying to streamline my Google Reader as well. I have about 100 subscriptions (down from about 200). I do read "all," rather than marking posts for later, but I skim the headline/first paragraph and only read in full if it catches my interest. If I come across a post that's really odd or out of left field—something that makes me wonder why I'm following the blog—I'll click through to feed of its recent posts and reevaluate how much I'm getting from it and whether I want to keep it. It's been a decent system so far. I feel like I'm at a good number right now, and I hope to keep weeding it on a regular basis--add a few, delete a few...

Are you on Pinterest? I can't recall if we're linked on that site. Anyway, it's a great way to save tutorials and other online items that you want to come back to later.

Jeri Dansky said...

LeeAnne, I haven't started exploring Pinterest yet. However, I am liking the new feature in Safari where I can create a Reading List.

But no matter what tool I use for my read-and-review-sometime-later items, I need to be sure I'm not letting things pile up there forever!