In a RSS Slump? 6 Tips to Optimize your Reading Habits

Have you gotten to the point where you feel blogs are all repetitive and you are wasting your time reading them, and not getting anything out of it? Here are six tips to keep in mind as you read blogs and news articles online. Our time is precious! Once it’s spent you can’t get it back. Keeping these helpful tips in mind as you read can get you out of that rut and back in control of your precious time.

1. Have I already read this?

If you have read blogs for any decent span of time you get to the point where very little is new anymore. With the tens of millions of blogs and thousands of news sources most certainly someone has already written about it before. With this being said much of the shared knowledge is simply repackaging something that was said somewhere else. The challenge is to not waste your precious time reading something that you have read already simply in another form. Keep this tip in mind as we move onto our next tip.

2. It’s OK To Miss Things

As we just mentioned in the last tip a lot of times different blogs will tell us the same thing just in a different manor. If it’s news worthy then I’m sure lots of people will be sharing it. If it’s a tip or advice well I’m sure that some other blogger will read it and rewrite it as their own soon enough. As you are looking through your feed reader for articles don’t feel like you have to read everything. Scan the title and if it’s something that doesn’t fit into your overall plan as decided by your new optimized plan then just skip it.

3. Is this applicable?

To answer this you need to figure out what is your reason for reading blogs? Is it for news, because you’re looking for advice about tips to better do your job, because it’s about your hobby, or whatever else? Maybe you’re like me and just a knowledge junkie? Anyways whatever your reason stay focused and make sure that what your reading is applicable to what you hope to accomplish. Spending a little time upfront deciding what you hope to learn can save you hours down the road.

4. Can this be leveraged?

How can you use what you just read? Is it news that will be good for gossip or announcing something that will revolutionize the way you do things down the road? It’s very easy to get distracted and simply read to read, but you are wasting valuable time. Read critically and think how this new knowledge can make your life or job easier. You won’t be able to read as quickly or as much, but your reading will mean more.

5. Scan first, read second

I know in the last tip I just said slow down and read critically, but sometimes you find a great article and only part of it is applicable or something new that you don’t already know. Well scan looking for the unique critical sections. Don’t feel that because it’s a good article that you have to read every word especially if three quarters is simply a different way of saying something that you read last week.

6. Is it save worthy?

Maybe you didn’t have time to fully let something soak in or want to share it with someone else? Well save it for later. There are many ways to do this using social bookmark. You can tag it using Delicious. Share it through StumbleUpon, Digg, or Mixx. Sometimes sharing and saving is a great way to avoid some of these problems all together.

The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí


So there you go. Six tips that for people just getting into RSS can save you loads of time and for those who feel overwhelmed can help you get out of the rut. So get out of that blog reader slump and gain more hours in your life to do other things and not feel like you’re missing out.

This post is also a continuation of Matt Herzberger’s post, Signal vs Noise.

7 Responses to “In a RSS Slump? 6 Tips to Optimize your Reading Habits”

  1. Says:

    i gave up being hard on myself and began understanding that i can only retain so much of the same old same old before i have to move on.

    skimming has helped me to discard the same old same old and move on to bigger and better things.

    thank for the tips..

  2. Says:

    Scan scan scan. Seems like thats all I really do sometimes.

    Thanks for the list!

  3. Says:

    Thanks! I keep this in mind while posting my blog. You may read if i care for your time.

  4. Says:

    Two things:
    I read once that if you see something 3 times, you know it’s worth paying attention to. So if you see something over and over, go find out what it is, even if it’s just for the ‘knowledge junkie in you. Example: After seeing it on Twitter the last few days, I have to find out now what the heck DimDim is …
    2. I know you’re talking about RSS, but I say this: Twitter is different! I feel super compelled to go back and read what I missed during the day - I’m hooked on keeping up with the conversations!

    Good tips, Kyle. If you’re any kind of habitual reader (even before the web) these are things you’ve been doing for years - practice them in your online reading too.

  5. Says:

    @Kathleen - That is true taking to offline reading. I do read a lot of magazines also… SI, Times, Information Week, PC World, etc. And I will say that there are articles that I’ve already read it online so I can quickly skim through the print version or completely skip over.

    What I love about print though is their really is a lot more depth and the way it exposes me to ideas and areas that I normally never touch in my web reads.

  6. Says:

    @Kathleen - Oh and if you start following 300+ people and have more than that following you… you will learn that it is ok to just miss stuff on twitter. :) That’s what the replies and DM’s are for so you get the juicy nuggets.

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