Writers Unblocked Blog

How I Read 100 Blogs a Day in Less than 15 Minutes

A blog post by Josh KerrJosh Kerr Avatar

I'm regularly complimented for staying up to date on trends in technology. I'm often asked how I do it and I usually respond with "I love to read and I'm really good at it." That last part is really the key and it has nothing to do with speed reading or intelligence, its all about organization and with the right tools it is very easy to do.

Four powerful tools

There are 4 key tools that I use to stay current on my favorite topics:

With those four tools in place you'll spend less time researching and gathering information and more time digesting it. You'll be able to follow the people you care about and consume content from anywhere on any device whether you have an Internet connection or not. Its a pretty powerful setup, one that gives me an advantage in my job.

Feedly

Feedly is a content aggregator which allows you to subscribe to various websites and then pull the articles from those websites as they are posted. If TechCrunch creates 3 new blog posts today, Feedly would pull the content for those 3 articles and add them to your Feedly page.

Feedly category list

Feedly list of categories and the blogs I've subscribed to.

I organize each website into a category that describes what that website is about. Some of my categories include: Technology, Startups, Politics, Entertainment and Design. If while browsing the web I stumble on to a new site that I'd like to track, I add it to Feedly and drop it into one of the categories that I've previously created.

Showing a list of article titles in the News category in Feedly.

I can quickly scan titles in each category to determine if the article is interesting.

Feedly allows you to browse using several different views. The "Title Only" view is my favorite because it shows a long list of titles and nothing else. There are also other views like "Magazine" and "Card" view which look more like a magazine and are nice for browsing but in my opinion slow down this process by adding images to the view.

A screenshot of Feedly in magazine view.

Magazine view adds images but takes away from efficiency

With Feedly pulling down my content, I no longer need to browse to all 100 websites in my list to see what's new. Instead I can click on each category and get a list of all of the new content that has appeared since my last visit. Feedly is keyboard driven so I can use the "j" and "k" keys on my keyboard to quickly go forward and backwards through the list. Its pretty great because I can scan through an entire categories of sites in a matter of seconds without reading a single article and determine if any of it is of interest.

Pocket

Sometimes I will read the articles right there but mostly I triage it to read it later. This is where Pocket comes in handy. Right from Feedly I can mark an article as "saved" which means that I plan to read it later. Feedly stores all of those articles in a special section called "Saved" so that articles from various categories can be all saved into a single folder.

A list of articles I've subscribed to within Pocket

Pocket displaying some of the articles that I've saved for later.

 

What Pocket does is allows me to save the content from the article and read it later using any device (iPhone, iPad, desktop, etc..) and it can sync that content so I don't even need to be online. Feedly supports sending articles to Pocket but it doesn't have a simple keyboard command to do so. What I want to do is sync my Feedly "saved" list to Pocket and that's where IFTTT helps.

IFTTT

IFTTT will connect to both my Pocket account and my Feedly account and sync across. So each time I add a new item to my "Saved" folder on Feedly, IFTTT will copy that article to my Pocket account. So now I can use a simple keyboard command "S" while reading through my various categories on Feedly to save articles into my Pocket. When I'm done, I simply sync Pocket on the device I want to read from and now I've got the full content for all of those articles ready to be read whether I'm online or offline. (Its perfect for commuters who travel via Subway.)

IFTTT showing my recipe for copying saved articles from Feedly to Pocket.

IFTTT showing my recipe for copying saved articles from Feedly to Pocket.

Newsle

With those 3 services setup you've got a pretty powerful way to track the latest content from the sources you care about. The only problem is that you don't have a way to relate a lot of that news to the people you know or care about. This is what Newsle solves. By signing into your social accounts like LinkedIn and Facebook, Newsle will inform you via email when one of your friends or colleagues is in the news. Not only will it tell you who, but it will link to the article allowing you to read or send it to Pocket to read later. If Newsle wrongly forwards you an article that it thinks is about your friend, you can mark it that way and Newsle will smartly remember for the next time. Every time you submit feedback it gets smarter and more accurate. I find it works very well and rarely mixes up people although it does sometimes get mixed up between me and Josh Kerr the professional surfer.

Newlse showing some of my friends in the news.

Newsle showing some of my friends in the news.

With these four tools in place you should be able to quickly scan news during the day and then read the articles that matter most to you when you get free. For me, I do most of my reading at night and its great because I've got all of the content queued up and ready to go and because Pocket supports the Kindle, I can read on a high resolution screen with content formatted all nice and clean free from ads and other annoying design.

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