Can you relate to this?
Once upon a time, you started a blog. At first you weren’t sure whether anyone was reading it. You found other bloggers and began reading their posts, and leaving comments from time to time. You bookmarked blogs you found interesting, and checked them every so often. Sometimes those bloggers would leave comments on your blog, and that felt good. So you’d visit them again. And before you knew it, you weren’t just a lone blogger, you were part of a community. Keeping up with all those blogs became more challenging, so you started using Google Reader to aggregate all of those blog posts and give you a single view of new content. Google Reader was so easy to use that you subscribed to more and more blogs. Along the way, you discovered RSS feeds on a myriad of topics and subscribed to them, too. And before you knew it, you were drowning in a sea of news and posts. You began to feel overwhelmed, and a little guilty about not keeping up. Or you spent way too many hours reading all of those posts. Or both.
If that sounds familiar, today’s post may offer some relief. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I have found 10 ways to make Google Reader work for me. Read on, and let me know what you think!
- Subscribe to the Google Reader Blog. I know this seems counter-intuitive, since it’s yet another blog to keep up with, but it’s a useful way to find out about new features and general tips & tricks.
- Use tags to organize your subscriptions, and define your tags in a way that helps you prioritize what you read. For example, I use Google Reader to follow blogs about my hobbies (books, gardening), and blogs that are useful for work. If I tag blogs appropriately, I can read them based on my interests at the moment. And I actually break it down further with 5 book-related tags, 4 work-related tags, and even a tag called “Other Good Stuff” for, well, other good stuff.
- Set your window to display in list view and show only new items (you can find these settings at the top of the display window). In list view you only see post titles, allowing you to quickly scan new unread posts. You can still display the full post by clicking on the title, but you can be more selective about it.
- If you don’t have a lot of time, “star” posts that look interesting, and mark them read. When you’re ready to read and/or comment on them, you can find them under “starred items.”
- If you have a lot of new posts, prioritize your reading by tag. Within each tag, scan headlines (see #3), and star liberally (see #4).
- Use the “Mark all as read” button, often and without remorse. If you’ve followed steps 3-5, you’ve already identified the posts of greatest interest. Move on!
- Tinker with your Reader Settings. There are preferences you may not be aware of — like choosing a start page — and “Send to” settings which make it easier for you to share interesting posts with other social sites like Facebook, StumbleUpon, or Digg.
- Don’t miss the “Goodies” tab in Reader Settings, where you can find tools that make it easy to subscribe to web pages, share web pages in Reader, and much more.
- Follow. When you follow others in Reader, you can see posts they have chosen to share with others (see #10), and you can comment on those posts too, so Reader becomes another avenue for social interactions.
- Share. If you read a post you like, share it! People who follow you will be able to view and comment on your shared posts. I’ve only recently begun following & sharing, but it’s added a whole new dimension to my reading and I’ve discovered some great content that way.
Are you challenged by Google Reader, or have you mastered it?
Do you have any “best practices” to share?