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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.

More by this author

50 Ways to Increase Productivity and Achieve More in Less Time How to Live on a Tight Budget Top 10 Ways to Use del.icio.us Top 20 Free Applications to Increase Your Productivity 101 Steps to Becoming a Better Blogger

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Last Updated on April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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