Effectively Reading

The internet is full of great pieces of knowledge. Starting from amazing stories and ending with some tips from the pros. But because now days every shitty twitter user that have a keyboard can open a blog the internet is also full of garbage and texts that not worth your time, and on the other hand you always feel that you missing something, So what can we do?

In this post I’ll share with you my experience and my reading habits that I’ve developed recently to maximize my reading time by reading exactly what I need and without afraid I’m loosing something out there.

When I refer to “reading” on this post I refer to texts on the internet, especially blog posts or interesting articles. I’m not talking about books (I hope I’ll get to it on another post) or some news content that are not relevant if you read it a month later

Once upon a time I’ve consume all my content via my social networks. First- it was Facebook, my friends were sharing some interesting links and I read them immediately (If I had a minute or two). Fast enough, Facebook algorithm started prioritize media over content, and my Facebook became mix of babies, dogs and oh-look-at-me-I-am-in-a-pool-party feed.

[caption id=“” align=“alignright” width=“356”] Source: http://www.ladycarcar.vn/mat-tu-vi-su-dung-cong-nghe/[/caption]

That’s when I decided to move to Twitter, and that sure was a mistake. Don’t get me wrong, Twitter is the best way out there to know what going out right NOW (I barely visiting news sites any more), it is a great platform to meet new people or to get help. But it not that good for discovering some good content, mainly because the users there prefer to keep things short and light.

In that point I went back to the drawing board, things was not worked for me. I had hard time following blogs that was importing for me (instead of reading the last post when it was released via RSS, I visited the blog once in a while and read all the posts I’ve missed). I didn’t have time to read those links on Facebook and finding them later was impossible. And when I finally had time I didn’t had any way to explore new cool content.

Step 1: Create your reading ritual

Reading demand some certain state of mind. For me, for example, reading on my smartphone didn't worked so well, because it’s too small and also because there are so many notifications and I lost my focus easily. After trying all kinds of things it look like my (wife’s) iPad works the best. It also works great for me because I’m doing my reading as part of my morning ritual so I don’t have to grab it with me elsewhere. So my reading ritual is on the morning with a cup a tea, looking at the sea from my living room window with an iPad to read.

Step 2: Find your platform

Now you need to build some mechanism for saving your reading queue. I’m using Pocket and I really think it is the best one out there. What’s important from this platform is:

  1. Easy to insert (add to the queue)

  2. Easy to pull (get the next for reading)

  3. It is also nice to have some tagging, sharing and search functionality.

Pocket surly served the first 2 items: there is a chrome extension, and android app that let you add articles quickly, and an app for almost all platforms for reading.

Make sure that you have one and only platform and all the content you consume should be from there. Even if you saw something on Facebook, or a friend send some link on mail- add it to your reading list and read it from there, I’ll explain why in the next step:

Step 3: Fill some content

So now we have all the infrastructure ready, how do we put something in? I will divide it to 3:

  1. Your direct channels- Those are the posts that you know that you don’t wanna miss, like important blogs or interesting medium users. You want all those posts will be added automaticity to your platform.

  2. Specific aggregator/ digested list- This one is tricky. In “The Tipping Point" Malcolm Gladwell says that on most of the times, it’s better to ask a maven instead of learning things on yourself. If you, like me, can’t handle all the blogs out there, not knowing all the bloggers and sites- find your maven that will send you the most important things out there.

  3. Recommendation engine- This one is the best for exploring some new stuff that not necessary fit to your main interest. This can be some algorithm that based on the crowd source or you personal taste (or better- both). That’s why it’s important to manage all your reading thought the same platform to give it as much information as possible for future learning.

Those 3 aspects should fill some nice and variety reading list. Here is my reading list:

  1. As Android developer- the Android blog is really important to me and I want to know on any additional API or new features there is. I’m also interested on every thing Chet Haase is publishing. And with IFTTT it easily added to my pocket every time new item is publish.

  2. 3 years ago I discover the wonderful software lead weekly project, I’m getting 1 weekly mail with the most interesting stuff out there about startup culture and leadership. And thanks to the awesome Oren Ellenbogen there is a simple ‘Add to pocket’ option.

  3. Pocket is doing amazing work here, and send me every week couple of articles that might interesting me (I say amazing because it’s pretty accurate). Lately I also started using medium, and it’s recommendation emails are nice too.

Step 4: Find your pace

I know lots of people that did it all but their Pocket app is just an endless list. They keep adding some stuff and never got to read half of them, soon enough they give up because they know there is no chance they gonna keep the pace. Start with small amount of articles, it’s better to have an empty list and not a too long one that will make you give up. After you will make it an habit it will be easier to add more stuff, so you always need to iterate between step 3 and 4.

For me- I started with reading around a few articles in the end of the week. That was build by 2 or 3 from the “software lead weekly” mail and maybe 2 more from the pocket mail. Step by step I increase my reading capacity and now I’m reading 3 articles a day = 15 a week. And adding around the same amount (Android= 3, software lead weekly= 4-5, Pocket= 4-5, medium= 3-4).

It took me couple of years but I really feel like my reading ritual helped me learn a lot of new things (about Android, tech and also on some other things that I’ve never read about). Yes- of course, I still sometimes facing some “What the hell I’ve just read in the last 4 minutes” moments, or skipping some important announcements because I don’t have time. But you know- you can’t always win the internet, winning 80% of the time is fine with me =)

Cover photos by: twenty pixels