[19/06/12 ETA - I suspect my getting organised was prompted by this Twitter conversation with @commutiny http://storify.com/commutiny/twitter-scheduling-masterclass]
If this is a blog post of the bleeding obvious then I really do apologise in advance.
I was just taking half an hour to do some much needed sifting of my RSS feeds and it occurred to me that maybe some people – even one person – might find it useful to know how I manage my information. Would it?
In case it is, here’s how I do it:
Focussing first on blogs and websites, it all comes from RSS feeds.
About five years ago I started collecting interesting looking websites and blogs and to keep up to date with them I added their RSS feeds to my feed reader. At the time I was using Bloglines to do this but now I use Google Reader. I’ve already written about RSS feeds on this blog.
Although I can access updated RSS feeds from my laptop I mainly use the app on my Android phone. When I have a spare few minutes either on a bus or in a queue, I scan the new updated feeds.
I’ve already got them categorised into my different areas of interests so I can pick out the ones that are most important or relevant to me at the time.
When I’m looking through the feeds I don’t read everything. There’s absolutely no way I’d have time to do that, well, not as well as having a job.
What I do is look at all of the feeds in a category in one place – with just the headlines showing – and scan to see what catches my eye.
I’m not overly bothered about missing something as I know if it’s really worth reading it’ll find its way back to me at some point.
When I’m scanning the headlines I mark ones that I want to look at in more detail with a star.
When I get to the bottom of the list I mark them all as read and they disappear from my Google Reader.
I find the process of scanning all of the headlines a good way of getting a sense of what’s happening, particularly in the tech world. If there are a lot of mentions of a tool or service then I tend to pick up on it that way.
The next stage for me is actually dealing with all of the items I’ve starred. It doesn’t necessarily happen straight after I’ve scanned all of the feeds but at some point I need to decide what I want to do with this information.
Probably about half of the entries I just read quickly, remove the star and move on. The ones that I think are actually useful to me and other people, I set up as scheduled tweets using Hootsuite.
The act of scheduling is another way of helping me to absorb the information but also selfishly as a freelancer it’s a way of showing people see I’m interested and keeping up with the latest developments.
I’ve linked my Twitter account to a service called Packrati.us. This allows me to post links and hashtags to Twitter and save the links to my Delicious (social bookmarking) at the same time.
Even at this stage I might not have read a post from beginning to end, but once it’s tagged in Delicious I know that I can call it back up if I need to research a tool or topic.
So, to quickly summarise,
- I use Google Reader to capture updates from my favourite blogs and websites
- I use the Google Reader Android app to scan through the headline updates
- I star any updates I want to read
- I look at all of the starred updates together and decide what I want to do with them
- If I think a link is worth sharing I set up a scheduled tweet using Hootsuite
- I make sure the tweet has a link to the information and any relevant hashtags
- The link gets saved automatically to my Delicious account for me to access later if I need it.
I have pretty much the same process for information on Twitter. I let the stream of updates pass by me, favouriting anything I want to look at later. When I have few minutes spare I go through my favourites, sharing anything that I think would be of use and replying if I have something to say.
And that’s it. Did you already know that? Is that how you do it? Am I crazy? Am I spending too much time on all of this? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.