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Archive for Blogging

Top 10 tips for effective blog reading - part 1

Top 10 tips for effective blog reading and Bloglines

Ah… blogs - one of the best ways to waste lots of time.
Here are the top 10 tips we’ve found for being more productive when reading blogs.

  1. Before going any further investigate different blog readers - if you’re going to spend time reading blogs, use the right tools for the job. Different blog aggregators engender different usage styles - find one that is as efficient as possible. We use Bloglines for a number of reasons outlined below these tips.
  2. Try resizing your browser or news reader to make the text appear in a thin column about 8 words wide so that you can speed read it.
  3. Before attempting to change your habits, get a handle on your addiction :-) - record how much time you spend reading each of your blogs or blog groups.
  4. Now set time limits and times when you’ll read blogs - and stick to them. For example, 12:00-12:30 and 3:30-4:00. Set up something to enforce the limit - perhaps an alarm, or tell a friend/colleague you’ll buy them a dvd if they catch you reading blogs outside the time limits.
  5. Limit how many feeds you subscribe to on a particular topic. If you add a new feed, strongly consider deleting one of your old ones.
  6. Periodically test your feeds. Leave a feed unread for a week. Then spend some time doing a catchup and ask yourself “was that really worth my time?”
  7. Organise your categories not by topic (tech, java, games, news etc) but by importance and/or reading frequency.
    Example categories:
    Important/Must Read
    Daily - blogs you check daily
    Every monday - blogs you check every monday
    Every friday
    Weekly
    Monthly
    etc
  8. Add a ‘quarantine’ category for new blogs that you’re adding to your aggregator. After a week or so, decide whether you really want to keep that blog and move it to the appropriate category.
  9. Add an ‘ignore’ category for blogs that you no longer read - this helps you remember your decision. If you ever come across the blog in the future and think “ooh, I’ll add that to my aggregator”, you’ll see that it’s something you decided wasn’t worth your time.
  10. Consider subscribing to only a subset of a person’s blog. Someone may have interesting things to say about your favorite topic but do you really want to know about their thanksgiving dinner as well? Many bloggers tag their posts into categories and it’s often possible to get category-specific feeds. For an example, see our list of categories in the sidebar.

What we like about bloglines:

  • it’s with us wherever there’s a net connection so there’s no need to synch between home and work
  • you don’t have to click on each item to read each entry - one click on a blog or group of blogs and all the posts will be presented on one page
  • it ’stores up’ entries - if you haven’t looked at a feed for a while, instead of just getting, say, the last 10 articles in the feed’s xml, you’ll get every item since your last check, up to 200 items

Here’s a bonus tip for those of you that write blog posts - to help people quickly read your posts, somehow highlight the essence of your posts like we’ve done with the bold text in this post.

Links to other great posts about this topic :
http://dmiessler.com/archives/416
http://www.to-done.com/2005/07/productivity-tips-for-avid-blog-readers/
http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/05/managing-your-blog-feeds/

Do you have any other tips or have you tried one of the above? Have you found anything that works for you or have you tried something that didn’t work? Add a comment. You can also subscribe to our feed here or add it to your Bloglines.

In our next post, we’ll define some simple rules to determine whether a blog is worth reading!

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