Taming your RSS reader

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I’ve got technology on the brain this week, it seems… my latest source of reflection: my RSS reader. It’s a godsend, of course, when it comes to keeping track of all the blogs I like to read. But, like my email inbox, it has to be managed daily or it quickly gets out of hand. When I go to a specific website, I don’t feel compelled to read everything that’s on it. When I see a long string of unread articles from, say, the New York Times Books section in my RSS reader, however, I feel like I can’t ignore them — I have to at least scroll through and cast an eye on each piece. If I don’t have time to do that, I let things pile up while I wait for the right moment to go through and take care of it once and for all. Once and for all!

This is madness, of course. Also crazy is my gradual desensitization to logging on and seeing many hundreds of unread items — a coping mechanism, surely, and a temporary one at best. Sure, I could cut back on my subscriptions, but then I might miss something good. I need some sort of personalized Reader’s Digest software… or else I need to get over my aversion to occasionally clicking “Mark all as read” and starting fresh every once in a while.

How do you manage your RSS reader?

6 thoughts on “Taming your RSS reader

  1. I find that I write about technology a lot, even though the basis of my blog is old-fashioned things like farming and pen/paper stuff… ironic, right?

    RSS feeds will always pile up on you, but I find that there are a few ways to prevent it from becoming overwhelming:

    – I’ll second NickT’s advice: Treat it like the morning newspaper. Check your RSS feed once or twice a day, and do it over a cup of coffee or something. I think this is healthier than letting it become a constant habit.

    – Learn to skim. Most people don’t read every single section of the newspaper front to back. I try to just let things catch my eye, read only those, and then mark the rest as read.

    – Create a folder of things that you really should read all the way through. For example, I have a folder that contains all the blogs I follow for my job, and I spend some time on my lunch break actually reading through those. But because I’ve prioritized that folder, I feel more okay about just skimming through the other folders.

    – Lastly, don’t become a slave to your RSS feed (or to any other form of technology). If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or “pressured” to keep up with your technology, then there’s a problem in your relationship with that technology. Because, dude, you’re a PERSON. And it’s just your computer/phone/gmail account: it’s supposed to be subservient to YOU, not the other way around.

  2. I use Protopage as my RSS reader and the place where I keep all my bookmarks. It’s great because I can log on to my page on any machine and get the latest updates and all my book marks too.

    Try it out, it works great.

  3. I try to skim the posts and when it starts to get overwhelming (usually after taking a mini-break from internet) I do resort to the mark all as read. But, that is rare. Usually I get around to the things I want to read. Don’t get too stressed about the number. If it gets too backed up, mark all read and start over with a clean slate.

  4. I am somewhat obsessive compulsive about email and Goggle Reader. I check it all the time…sometimes several times per hour. My job always is changing priorities and tasks several times per hour as well so it is easy enough to take a quick stop by GR or email.

    I have 0 unread items in Goggle Reader right now.

  5. A RSS feed collection is like a daily newspaper. You don’t read the paper cover to cover. Instead, you browse through each section looking for things you want to read. When you’re done, you toss it in the recycling bin. My daily new item load is 150-200 items. I open maybe 30-50 of those and have no qualms pressing the mark as read button afterwards.

  6. i don’t – i’m sitting on close to 10,000 unread or at least thats my mental tally cuz its said 1,000+ for months now.

    i can’t remove feeds, because i too feel i will miss something i need to see. and then there’s the guilt factor.

    right now i just go to my google reader and pick and choose a few sites to read through and then grimace when the 1,000+ doesnt budge. oy.

    I need to find system so when you discover one that works, please pass it on. 🙂

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