Curbing My Reading Addiction (and keeping the important stuff in the process)

19 01 2012

I have a problem.  I’m addicted to reading.  While it doesn’t do much damage to my health, if left unchecked it drains time away from my other favorite things to do (like exercise and time with loved ones).  Constant access to the internet is like a crack den for someone with a reading addiction.  When I was in grad school, my range on interests expanded while I wrestled with what to do after school.  From finance to tech news, venture capital to marketing, my Google Reader account was constantly stuck at ‘1000+’.  With a bit of free time on my hands every day, I got to the point where I was ‘reading’ 400+ articles per week, and skimming hundreds more.  I was subscribed to dozens of blogs and news sites, and constantly balancing on the edge of being completely overwhelmed by the barrage of content.  The worst part was my lack of retention – I felt almost powerless to actually read and understand — my tiny brain was full to the read line.  I was saturated.

My girlfriend finally staged an intervention.  Well, she removed the Google Reader plugin from my browser, which acted as an intervention.  Without the constant reminder that I was leaving hundreds of articles unread, my addiction to clearing my Reader list was curbed.  While I still devoured lots of articles, I no longer used an RSS reader to aggregate them.

With starting at Wistia, I took another big step – I stopped following blogs altogether.  I deleted all my bookmarks, and instead used my Twitter feed to tell me what to read.  The integration with Instapaper made it easy – if I saw an article in my timeline that looked interesting, I could add it to my Instapaper list with a simple swipe (nevermind the fact that Twitter has since made this much more difficult).

I can’t lie – I still obsess over clearing my Instapaper queue.  But with 1,300+ articles in my to-read list, this isn’t happening anytime soon.  But I was in control of what articles went into my queue, which was much more efficient.  There was always one problem with this setup – I was missing out on the updates of my favorite blogs.  My friend Courtney’s blog?  Never one of the popular articles in my Twitter feed.  I was also always hunting for a article to read with my coffee – just trying to clean out my Instapaper queue left me with only long articles.

That’s when I heard about ifttt (If This Than That).  I tugged on my imaginary beard as I read over the description of the service.  And I knew it would make my reading problem go away…at least partially.  Who knows if sending this ifttt recipe out will work, but here is my favorite:  I created a folder in my old Google Reader account called “must reads”, and now whenever an item gets added to that folder, it gets auto-added to my Instapaper queue.  Ahhh, efficiency.

So, you might be wondering, what’s in my “must reads” folder?  Well, besides some personal blogs, here’s the current list:

For anyone out there with a reading addiction like mine, I highly recommend checking out Instapaper (as if you aren’t already using it) and ifttt – the combo together is what you need to get your life and attention span back.






2 responses

18 04 2012
Jason Shen (@JasonShen)

Hey Jeff, just randomly stumbled across this. I’m really honored I made the short list of blogs you read. Thanks for staying tuned and I hope to continue writing useful articles!

18 04 2012
Jason Shen (@JasonShen)

I’m also a big Seth Godin fan and will be checking out your other recommendations too!

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