I have been using Google Reader for quite some time and reading feeds for what seems like forever. My habits and ability to organize and plow through my feeds has changed dramatically over the years and I wanted to share my own use case and experience here.
I originally heard about the idea to organize feeds via a tiered structure where Tier 1 through Tier x are folders containing feeds in order of importance. I loved this idea because it solved the problem of “where to start” every day when I wanted to get some feed reading done. The task was a little daunting because I had 100+ feeds categorized and organized into folders and now I needed to work them into the new system.
It was well worth the effort and now my Google Reader looks like this;
This allows me to prioritize my feed reading and know what to jump into without going “feed specific” or alphabetical. Jumping into the Tier 1 folder lets me make progress with blogs of friends, contact, colleagues, and other things I am following. Tier 2 is where I go if Tier 1 is empty. This holds all the feeds that I usually do not have the time for during the day and do not feel its always important to read. Tier 3 presents feeds that fills up way too fast (like Digg) but if I find myself done with Tier 1 and Tier 2 I will tryout Tier 3. Sometimes for writing inspiration or to get a different take on a subject I will jump into Tier 3 to get some voices outside of the echo chamber.
“Research” is an interesting folder. This has everything from webmaster forums I trust to take the pulse of what is going on in the Internet world, boards where sites and domains are bought and sold, and feeds that havn’t yet been categorized.
“Search” is a number of my favorite sources in the world of SEM, SEO, and Social Media. This is a world I keep on on heavily after spending so much time with the subject. Finally, “VC’s” Represent voices in the world of venture capital.
I have found that recently I have not been adding many new feeds, and trying to cut some out by combining using other aggregation sites together. I think there is a place for both in daily usage.
I have been asked a lot recently how I process 250+ feeds – this is how I manage it. I feel like reading through feeds is something I enjoy (as opposed to a chore), much like how some people read the newspaper. I always love getting through to zero – but that is obviously not always possible. The reality is closer to a Tier 2, Tier 3 at 1000+ unread (Google Reader does not report higher unread numbers) and progress made on Tier 1.