Keeping abreast of news in your niche can be tough. I know the feeling of being left behind, when you think you need to be checking thousands of feeds 24 hours a day.
Fact is you do not need to have such a punishing regime.
I have been known to follow stupidly excessive amounts of RSS feeds, plus my Twitter following got well out of hand.
My feeds are now down to 300 and I am slowly trimming who I follow on Twitter. I’m down from 900 and some to hopefully approaching a manageable number below 700.
This might still seem like a lot to you, how do I manage to follow so many feeds?
Here are 21 tips for a more productive approach to keeping up with all the crucial developments in your niche. They will work for feeds or Twitter in most cases but I have aimed mainly at RSS:
21 Niche News and Feed Reading Productivity Tips
- Split your readers – Use an online reader for the important and immediate stuff and read less pressing material offline in downtime like commute, air and rail travel
- Let stuff slip – Know that you don’t need to catch everything. We can’t hope to know everything about everything, don’t knock yourself out trying.
- Have multiple sources of news – If you stick to the point in number 2 you will miss stuff first time round but if you have multiple sources you will catch it on the echoes. Important stuff makes ripples, if it matters it will be repeated, probably a number of times.
- Is it a fad? – What you don’t follow is as important as what you do. I have completely stopped reading anything about programming, I now hire programmers. Same with design. You don’t always have to be on bleeding edge, let others make early mistakes. Aren’t you glad you didn’t research everything about HD DVD now that BlueRay won?
- Find the filters – Each niche will have a human filter. People like Scoble, Duncan Riley, and co are on the ball and can tell you what is important so you don’t have to read everything. Either follow their feed or follow on Twitter. It’s a good tip for wannabe Authorities – You can be an authority by filtering, explaining and simplifying. An Editor, DJ, Director can be as important as a creator.
- Use topical folders – I only check my photography news once a week, tech news a couple of times a week, productivity every few weeks.
- Use stars and flags – Most readers will provide you with a tool to pin a post to be read later. Find the good stuff but don’t read it right away. Mark to read later then read at your leisure.
- Nuke it – Use mark all as read rather than leave unread items “just in case”.
- Prioritize – Organize your feeds into priority: 1 = Crucial, 2 = Valuable, 3 = Non Essential … 4 = Just for Fun – Most days you might only manage to read (1), on slow days you can get to (3). You might read (4) on breaks.
- Use google alerts
- Audition Feeds – When you discover a new feed put it on probation. After a test period you can decide to keep or drop, don’t put it into proper rotation right away.
- Routinely trim – Be brutal. Don’t feel guilty. Your time is too precious.
- Use aggregation – Social voting, meme trackers and breaking news sites give you an at a glance update without wading through feeds. Think techcrunch, techmeme, gizmodo
- Batch-read – It’s not effective to read stuff that will not have a massive impact every day. I can go weeks without reading Seth/Gapingvoid even though they are excellent. Thought-leaders are often not that essential, as compared to knowing the big news.
- Skim – Headlines, subheads, bullets, quotes and graphics. Get an impression of if this article is worthwhile … hints for writers as well as readers here
- Use “river of news” – You do not have to read feed by feed, switch to river of news/ all-items view to get an impression of a topic
- Set aside a fixed amount of time – Give yourself 30 minutes and no more. Stick to the time limit and you will find you are more aggressive about not wasting it.
- Set your criteria? News, important relationships/people, industry keywords … Not everything is niche-changing, ask yourself “do I need to read this NOW?”
- Use software filters – Create a merged feed of just the important stuff using AideRSS
- Use Twitter – Replace feeds with following people on Twitter. Lots of people post links to their Twitter feed. If they think it is important enough to Tweet then it is probably important enough to consider reading, but not always.
- Only subscribe to full feeds – Controversial possibly but there are only a few partial feeds left in my reader. Partial feeds force you to click to see if the article is worthwhile, which could turn out to be a waste of precious time. Don’t bother.
Those are my tips. Please share yours! 🙂