Saving Time Using Google Reader

If you’re like me, and I know that I am, you have a hard time keeping up with the overflow of information that comes your way on a daily ba
sis. If you were to look at my browsers bookmarks, you’d wonder how anyone could find the time to visit, let alone read all the blogs I find relevant and interesting. Well, it ain’t easy, but it can be done, using a little tool from that little start up company called Google.

If you haven’t used Google Reader, you are missing out on one great time saving tool. You’ve probably heard of it, but, like everything else in life, you were too busy to check it out. For me, it’s hard trying to find the time to learn how to use any new tool or gadget. That’s why I am pretty sure I am only using a fraction of my smart phones abilities. Heck, that’s probably why we only use ten percent of our brains. The owners manual is complicated and we don’t have time to read it.

Google reader though, is a piece of cake to use and you can get the gist of it in just a few minutes. And then, sit back and enjoy the extra time. Seriously, you will find it a time saver. Here’s how it works:

It starts with having a Google account, like your GMail account. It’s pretty safe to assume almost everyone has one, so go there and sign in. On the Google home page, the drop down menu will offer ‘Reader’ as a choice. Click that and you will see a basic environment, nothing to fancy here.

Now, let’s say you like to visit Chris Brogan every day (a smart move by the way). Just look for that orange RSS feed button. Not every site will have an RSS feed, but most these days do. In Firefox, it is located in the address bar. Click that and a drop down menu will offer you the option to subscribe to that sites RSS feed. Go ahead and do it. You will be taken to a page that offers a few choices of how you want to subscribe to this page. I opt for the Google choice. Hit subscribe now.

Your next choice will be to add it to your Google homepage or to Google reader. If you like everything on your homepage, opt for that. My homepage would be a disaster if all of my daily reads were fed there, so I opt for the Reader. After clicking that, you are taken to the Google Reader page. That is where you can manage your subscriptions.

I have many folders. One is called daily reads, but I have a political folder, one for internet business stuff, one for hobbies etc. Let’s say the site I just subscribed to is a daily read. I drag the new site into that folder. There is a number next to its listing that shows the number of unread posts. It will be small for now since you just subscribed.

When I click on the new listing, I will see all the unread posts. This is where the time saving comes in. Not every posts on every site will be of interest to me. Others will be evergreen topics that I want to look at over and over. Sometimes just scanning the title of a post is enough to let me know whether or not I want to read it. If I don’t want to, I click  the ‘Mark as read’ button. Others, I open up right there in the Google Reader window and preview it. The nice thing about the preview window is that you don’t have to leave the page to read the article. Sometimes I find a post that I know I will want to refer to again, so I will click the ‘Keep as Unread’ button, and it will always be available.

Now, if you have a dozen or so daily reads, you can visit them all in one place and at a glance know if you want to read a post. No more scrolling through a zillion blogs to look for unread gems, you can now find them quickly.

The other beautiful thing is that when you visit Google Reader the next time, within seconds you will know if any of your daily reads has posted anything new. So instead of spending twenty minutes to look for new posts, you can find them in seconds.I don’t know anyone who couldn’t use another twenty minutes in their day.