There are so many wonderful websites, blogs, and new resources popping up on the Internet every day that it’s hard to keep up with everything! And I don’t think I’m the only one who feels that way, right? 🙂 Do you ever find that you’re so overloaded with inspiration and ideas as you click from place to place that you end up never getting around to using any of them? There’s a solution to this dilemma that makes keeping up with information so much easier!
1. Use an RSS aggregator. This is a system designed to help you follow blogs and websites without actually having to visit every single one to see if they’ve updated since your last visit. My favorite (of the two I’ve used!) is Feedreader. Here are some step-by-step instructions. (They are from several years ago, so the file names have changed, but the basic info should be correct.) Feedreader runs as a separate software on your computer and it is very intuitive. Here’s a screenshot of what mine looks like:
(Click on the image above for a larger view.) To add a new site or blog to follow, just click on the “New” button and enter the url of the website. Or, if you’re on the website/blog, just look for the RSS icon or subscription link and click on it. You should be directed to a page where you will have the option to add the feed to your Feedreader program. You can also create folders to help organize the feeds to which you subscribe. If a post has not been read, it shows up in bold typeface so you can see at a glance what you’ve read and what you haven’t.
2. Scan titles for interest. I subscribe to a couple hundred blogs, so obviously there is no way that I’m going to read every post, but I also don’t want to miss out on anything! So I click on a particular folder and scan the titles, clicking on any that grab my attention. If it’s a short informational post, I just read the full text of it that shows up in the window to the right. If something I read especially resonates with me, I double click the title to visit the site and leave a comment on the post. Similarly, if the post includes a free worksheet or list that I can use immediately, I click through and print it off.
3. Use your browser as a to-do list. If I read an idea that I want to reflect on in greater detail or come across an insightful article that will take longer than a few minutes to read, I click through and leave it open as a tab on my browser (hooray for tabbed browsing!). In this way, my browser tends to function as a sort of to-read list – which is why I usually have dozens of tabs open at a time…and why it’s horrifying if my computer crashes and I lose all my open tabs! 🙂
4. Decide what to do with the information. Usually at the beginning or end of the day, when I have some time to read and work on projects, I visit some of the open tabs in my browser. If it’s an article, I read it and copy any meaningful quotes I want to save to a file I have on the computer for that purpose. If it’s a music teaching idea, I blog about it (for those who don’t blog, you could store it as a favorites/bookmark). If it’s part of some research I’m doing, I sift through and copy relevant information to other files where I can easily reference them. Items I’m interested in purchasing get saved to my universal Amazon wishlist. And so on.
All of this hearkens back to the old maxim, “Have a place for everything and everything in its place.” Just in a virtual sense! I love living in this technologically advancing age, but it’s so important to utilize the capabilities for greater efficiency and productivity, rather than letting them overwhelm us and wear us out. I recommend taking time to think through what your goals are and then coming up with some systems and steps that you can use to maintain order in your life. And if you have any great tips that have worked for you in terms of staying digitally organized, please do share – there’s always room for improvement, in my opinion!