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10 Smart Hacks for Google Reader

10 Smart Hacks for Google Reader
Google Reader

If you’re like me, then you probably have a serious case of information overload. In today’s web of information, it’s easy to get caught up in the constant news stream. In fact, I have over 50 RSS feeds in my feed reader. Talk about a mental meltdown.

So, what do you do when you wake up to thousands of new items in your feed reader, with hundreds of items which
don’t even interest you? A few smart hacks will enable you to look through all of your favorite feeds in just 30 minutes or less using the power of Google Reader.

Google reader is extremely powerful and has a very clean interface. Google Reader allows you to read your favorite blogs in much the same manner as you would read your email.

Some of it’s many features include tagging, folder-based navigation, Firefox integration and the ability to import and export subscription lists as an OPML file. You can also star items for easy access, share your favorite items, and save your favorite items to del.icio.us.

All of these features have come to make Google Reader a dream machine for the productivity enthusiast.

Here are some tips for getting the most out of Google Reader.

1. Sort your feeds by priority.

Google Reader makes it easy to organize all of your feeds by topic. However, I would also suggest that you categorize
your feeds by priority as well. This way, you know which items are “Must Read” and which items “Can Be Skipped” on days that you’re busy.

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2. Use Keyboard Shortcuts.

You can’t become a Google master without learning the keyboard shortcuts for Google Reader. These little tweaks can save you a good bit of time in the long run.

Some of the most common shortcuts include:

j/k: item down/up
o: open/close item
s: toggle star
m: mark as read/unread
t: tag an item

For a complete list of Google Reader shortcuts, grab this Cheat Sheet

3. Optimize your feed reading time by combining certain feeds into one large master feed.

This can be done using FeedShake. Feedshake allows you to merge, sort, and filter multiple RSS feeds. You can also use filters and tags to create a more customized feed.

For a more advanced solution, you can try Yahoo Pipes. Yahoo Pipes is a very powerful RSS feed remixer that gives you the ability to create web mashups that combine a variety of data from different sources. Yahoo Pipes takes web aggregation to an entirely new level.

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4. Add tags to your feed items.

Google Reader lets you organize all of your feed items by tags. This is one of the best features for those who are
looking to optimize their time.

To add a tag to a post, simply click “add tags” and enter the relevant tags.

5. Search your feed items.

The only feature that I would really like to see in Google Reader that is currently missing is a search feature. Fortunately, there are ways to work around this.

You can use Google Reader Custom Search to search your feeds using Google Co-op inside Google Reader.

6. Star items for future reference.

Google Reader enables you to quickly star items for future reference. This can come in handy for items that you want to refer to later.

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7. Smart Google Reader Subscribe Button

The Smart Google Reader Subscribe Button makes it easy to subscribe to a site’s RSS feed while also letting you know if you’ve already subscribed to that site. If you subscribe to a lot of feeds, this kind of tool is very handy.

Another great way to add RSS feeds on the fly is with the subscribe bookmark. This tool enables you to quickly
subscribe to any site that you find interesting while surfing the web.

To access the subscribe button, click on Settings on the top right-hand corner of the Google Reader interface and
then click on Goodies. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you will see detailed instructions on how to use the subscribe bookmark.

8. Use Expanded View.

For optimum productivity, use expanded view. Expanded view makes it very easy to scroll all of your feed items and
scan for interesting posts.

However, I don’t suggest that you simply scroll down the page. You can go from one entry to the next simply by
pressing the “J” key. Whenever you want to go backwards, use the “K” key to return to the previous post.

9. Do a weekly or monthly cleanup.

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Over time, there are certain feeds that you simply don’t read anymore, or read very infrequently.

These feeds should be dumped on a regular basis to keep your feed reader under control.

Google Reader has an excellent feature known as Subscription Trends that keeps track of where you do the majority of your reading. This will help you to quickly identify any feeds
that need to be dumped.

If your subscription trends reveals a feed that is read less than 5%, then it’s probably time to delete it. Fortunately, you can delete any feed directly from the Trends page.

10. Dedicate a certain time of the day for reading your feeds and stick to your allotted times.

If you allow yourself 30 minutes to read through your feeds each day, then stick to it. Believe me, everything will still be there tomorrow.

Kim Roach is a productivity junkie who blogs regularly at
The Optimized Life. Read her articles on 50 Essential
GTD Resources, How to Have a 46 Hour Day, Do You Need
a Braindump, What They Don’t Teach You in School, and
Free Yourself From the Inbox.

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Last Updated on September 10, 2019

How to Master the Art of Prioritization

How to Master the Art of Prioritization

Do you know that prioritization is an art? It is an art that will lead you to success in whatever area that matters to you.

By prioritization, I’m not talking so much about assigning tasks, but deciding which will take chronological priority in your day—figuring out which tasks you’ll do first, and which you’ll leave to last.

Effective Prioritization

There are two approaches to “prioritizing” the tasks in your to-do list that I see fairly often:

Approach #1 Tackling the Biggest Tasks First and Getting Them out of the Way

The idea is that by tackling them first, you deal with the pressure and anxiety that builds up and prevents you from getting anything done—whether we’re talking about big or small tasks. Leo Babauta is a proponent of this Big Rocks method.[1]

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Approach #2 Tackling the Tasks You Can Get Done Quickly and Easily, with Minimal Effort

Proponents of this method believe that by tackling the small fries first, you’ll have less noise distracting you from the periphery of your consciousness.

If you believe in getting your email read and responded to, making phone calls and getting Google Reader zeroed before you dive into the high-yield work, you’re a proponent of this method. I suppose you could say Getting Things Done (GTD) encourages this sort of method, since the methodology advises followers to tackle tasks that can be completed within two minutes, right there and then.

Figure out Your Approach for Prioritization

My own approach is perhaps a mixture of the two.

I’ll write out my daily task list and draw little priority stars next to the three items I need to get done that day. They don’t need to be big tasks, but nine times out of ten, they are.

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Smaller tasks are rarely important enough to warrant a star in the first place; I can always get away without even checking my inbox until the next day if I’m swamped, and the people who need to get in touch with me super quickly know how.

But I’m not recommending my system of prioritization to you. I’m also not saying that mine is better than Leo’s Big Rocks method, and I’m not saying it’s better than the “if it can be done quickly, do it first” method either.

The thing with prioritization is that knowing when to do what relies very much on you and the way you work. Some people need to get some small work done to find a sense of accomplishment and clarity that allows them to focus on and tackle bigger items. Others need to deal with the big tasks or they’ll get caught up in the busywork of the day and never move on, especially when that Google Reader count just refuses to get zeroed (personally, I recommend the Mark All As Read button—I use it most days!).

I’m in between, because my own patterns can be all over the place. Some days I will be ready to rip into massive projects at 7AM. Other times I’ll feel the need to zero every inbox I have and clean up the papers on my desk before I can focus on anything serious. I also know that my peak, efficient working time doesn’t come at 11AM or 3PM or some specific time like it does for many people, but I have several peaks divided by a few troughs. I can feel what’s coming on when and try to keep my schedule liquid enough that I can adapt.

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That’s why I use a starred task list system rather than a scheduled task list. It allows me to trust myself (something that I suppose takes a certain amount of discipline) and achieve peak efficiency by blowing with the winds. If I fight the peaks and troughs, I’ll get less done; but if I do certain kinds of work in each period of the day as they come, I’ll get more done than most others in a similar line of work.

You may not be able to trust yourself to that extent without falling into the busywork trap. You may not be able to tackle big tasks first thing in the morning without feeling like you’re pushing against an invisible brick wall that won’t budge. You might not be able to deal with small tasks before the big tasks without feeling pangs of guilt and urgency.

My point is:

The prioritization systems themselves don’t matter. They’re all pretty good for a group of people, not least of all to the people who espouse them because they use them and find them effective.

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What matters is that you don’t fall for one set of dogma (and I’m not saying Leo Babauta or David Allen preach these things as dogma, but sometimes their proponents do) until you’ve tried the systems extensively, and found which method of chronological prioritization works for you.

And if the system you already use works great, then there’s no need to bother trying others—in the world of personal productivity, it’s too easy to mess with something that works and find yourself unable to get back into your former groove.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

In truth, this principle applies to all sorts of personal productivity issues, though it’s important to know which issues it applies to.

If you thought multitasking worked well for you each day and I’d have to contend that you are wrong—multitasking is a universal myth in my books! But if you find yourself prioritizing tasks that never get done, you might need to reconsider which of the above approaches you’re using and change to a system that is more personally effective.

More About Prioritization & Time Management

Featured photo credit: Sabri Tuzcu via unsplash.com

Reference

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