Over on Ensight, Jeremy writes: Keeping Your Blogging Healthy
The truth is that there was a time that I Ã¢â‚¬Å“readÃ¢â‚¬Â 600+ feeds. One day, I decided to trim the ones I wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t reading, and I got down to 500. Then I decided to trim the ones I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t actually tend to in any way get value from, and I was down to 400. Then I decided to delete ALL of my subscriptions and start from scratch. Now IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m at about 100 feeds.
And you know what? I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t feel like IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m missing out on anything. At least nothing important. And I end up saving about 2-3 hours per day in reading / blogging / emailing / commenting that didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have any real value.
I have over 500 feeds that I’m subscribed to in FeedDemon. That’s a lot to keep track of. The trick is that I don’t actually read them all – only about 50 are actually read by me, and another 100 or so that I scan the titles of quickly. I use keyword watches to pick up interesting posts from the rest of them to read through.
The key aspect of managing my time I find is that I group my blogs by how frequently I want them updated and then set FeedDemon to that schedule for each group. This means I can have my favourite blogs updated hourly, and my “important” blogs updated every 6 hours, or once a day, and then other blogs that I just want to keep track of can be updated every couple of days, or even once a week. This way I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get as swamped as I was. FeedDemon also makes this easy to manage.
The trick is to understand the difference between controlling how often you read new blog entries versus how often you are presented with new blog entries to read. It’s a subtle difference, but I’ve found a change in approach has made a lot of difference to me in recent months.
If I just let my RSS reader download all the latest blog entries and then choose for myself which ones I’m going to read at any given time, I actually spend more time deciding which blogs to ignore than I do reading !! It’s much better to let the reader do the hard work for you – have it download certain blogs less frequently so that you are presented with new material to browse less frequently as well. Sure, there will likely be more to read each time, but it’s easy enough to scan through a list of 10 new entries once and then mark them all read, as opposed to scanning one entry now, another in a few hours time, and then another tomorrow, and so on.
The big challenge here is with prolific bloggers, and the fact that a lot of blog software will limit the number of posts they serve at once. For example, WordPress by default is set to only deliver the last 10 posts via RSS. This means that if you set a blog to be updated once a week, and the blogger (using WordPress) is averaging more than 10 posts per week – then you will miss out on some of their posts !! There’s not much you can do about this other than to perhaps approach the blogger in question and ask them to increase this setting given how frequently they post.
Darren over at ProBlogger.net falls into this category – he’s such a prolific poster, that I have trouble keeping up with him at times. The 10 post thing isn’t much of a problem for me, since I class his blog in the “important reading” category – and hence update at least once per day.
But for other sites like Slashdot – where I’m only ever interested in 2% of their content, and there is a lot of content – I simply find it too difficult to manage. This is where niche-posters rather than aggregators are of much more value to me – I can sort which ones I want to pay the most attention to and deal with each topic individually.
Interestingly, I find a similar strategy works for managing my work email, where I get a lot of corporate-spam (useless emails that require no attention from me and just serve to distract). Although I do make heavy use of the features of Lotus Notes to manage this, I have found that simply turning off automatic updates to my email has made me far more productive. Now I check for new emails when I’m ready to deal with emails – and I try to deal with them all at once. Then I go back to my work and focus on that. I figure if it is urgent enough, someone will phone or IM me.
Back to blogs though, sometimes you do just need to make a decision like Jeremy did and start unsubscribing to blogs – or even just delete them all and start again! Learning to be tough and unsubscribe from unproductive blogs is difficult – a bit like learning to throw out old junk around the house – itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something you have to work at