Midweek @ Musings: 10 Ways to Make Google Reader Work for You

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.”
  5. 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).
  6. 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!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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?

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19 thoughts on “Midweek @ Musings: 10 Ways to Make Google Reader Work for You

  1. Great post, Laura – I use all these things to simplify my blog visiting experiences 🙂 I especially like the star feature as it allows me to star reviews and other posts which I want to link to in a post I am planning (for example, I participate in Friday Finds…when someone writes a terrific review which makes me want to read that particular book, I star it so that I can easily find it when I write my Friday Finds post). So I use it like a bookmark.

  2. Thanks for this helpful post! I only recently discovered Google Reader (aka the black hole), and I know I will be employing many of your strategies!

  3. Great post! I didn’t realise that there was a google reader blog – I’ll have to subscribe!

    I find using folders in GR the most useful thing – that way I can prioritise reading my favourite blogs. If I start to get overwhelmed I can mark all as read in my lower priority folders.

    I haven’t really used the share/follow function in GR. I need to get round to that one day!

    • Jackie, if you’d like to share/follow with me, just say the word. You’ll need my gmail address so if you don’t have it, use the contact form on my About page and I’ll send it to you!

  4. This is an interesting post!

    I’m new to blogging and just found out about Google Reader, I kept wondering how people held track of the blogs they read, so finding GR was an enlightenment.
    I do need to look at points 9 and 10, I had never heard of those options.

  5. Your post makes my head hurt, Laura!

    I will make a point of making sense of it at some point as I desperately need to get my Google Reader under control in a way that doesn’t just cull more blogs.

    Thank you for the detail.

  6. Excellent post – I use nearly all of your tips myself, and they help a LOT! Folders/tags are essential. I do need to pick up the Google Reader Blog, though – thanks for the recommendation :-).

  7. You know, the way I tame Google Reader is to be really picky about the blogs that make it in there! 😉 I’ve started being a lot more ruthless in the past couple of months, and it makes blog hopping/reading so much more pleasant.

  8. Do you think the Google Reader Blog would work even if you don’t use google reader? Meaning I’ve got antoher rss-reader (in Netvibies) 😉

    • Hello, thanks for stopping by. Yes, you can subscribe to the Google Reader Blog through any RSS reader. However, it is focused on use of Google Reader, so I’m not sure how relevant the content would be for you!

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