An experiment in RSS organization

At last count, I had a few hundred RSS feeds in my NewsGator web reader. These represent a few thousand headlines every day, and it’s rare that I’m able to read all of them.

As a result of this, I get very stressed when I start reading. I’ll click on my “news” group (which is the largest group, post-wise, generating 300+ new headlines every day), and cringe as I work through 5-10 pages of headlines. Even with my triage-then-read approach (I “clip” interesting headlines and then revist them when I have more time, part of an effort to keep my RSS influx managed), it takes ages to get through all this, and I can’t help but think it isn’t useful.

So today I set up something different. Instead of grouping my feeds by subject (I had them grouped into Technology, Business, News, Fun, Friends, Productivity and My Sites; plus some sub-groupings such as Macintosh, General Tech, etc.), I’ve grouped them by how much I want to read them.

So my new list is a lot flatter. I have A Must Read, Better Read, Like to Read and Maybe Read. The names are cute, but also rank alphabetically, so that’s nice.

The sites that I love so much that I want to always no matter what read every post go into the “A Must Read” group; followed by sites I like a lot, but could miss on a busy day (Better Read); which rank about sites which I really enjoy but generally just distract me at work (Like to Read); and finally those sites which I’ll read when I have time, but could clear out any time I want without any pain (Maybe Read).

Now none of this means that the individual feeds represent important sites. Most of the sites in the “A Must Read” category are my friend’s blogs and the RSS feeds announcing new releases of software I like to keep on top of.

There’s plenty of heady, good stuff in “Maybe Read,” such as the Washington Post and a couple really good technical blogs; but these things represent longer reads and stuff which I don’t necessarily need to keep up on every single day.

The end result of all of this is that I know to always check the “A Must Read” group if there’s a new post in there, and I’ll almost always read the “Better Read” group, but may put it off for a day or two if I’m busy. As for the rest, I’ll comb through those if/when I have time to spare.

And yes, I threw Digg into the “Like to Read” group. It’s great to have my cursor on the pulse of the internet’s latest fads, but mostly it’s just a time sink. Everything really popular on there ends up on another blog or forum I read anyhow.

Now, if I could only do this with email…

Twitter, Facebook

Written on August 23, 2006