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Control Your Impulse Surfing!


Even after a merciless purge, my Google Reader still has over 90 feeds in it, which generates several hundreds of things to read every day. After a quick skimming and culling, there’s at least a dozen or two dozen articles or long blog posts a day I’d like to read. Combine that with the things my Twitter followees post (a higher signal/noise ratio than the RSS feeds) and it’s more than I can responsibly spend time on.

Today I thought of a nifty hack to control my “impulse reading” — things that I read on a whim during a bout of web surfing. It adapts a popular trick from personal finance to control impulse spending, which is to wait 30 days before making a purchase.

When I encounter an article I’d like to read, I open it in a new tab in Firefox and leave it there. Right now I have about a dozen tabs open. Some of them have been there for days. Invariably, when I make my way back through them, I read maybe 1/3 of them. Most of them just don’t seem as interesting anymore.

This has two other benefits. I can play “inbox zero” with my Google Reader, so I don’t feel like lots of things are hanging over my head, unchecked. Each feed is marked as read, whether I read it or not, or open it in a new tab for later. The second benefit is that I “batch” all my recreational reading into a contiguous chunk so that it doesn’t continually interrupt me during the day.



  1. Speedmaster says:

    I have the same problem w/ my feed reader, I use my.yahoo.com. Every few weeks I purge a bunch. 😉

  2. sam says:

    Once in a while I’ll be away from google reader for a few days, and come back to about 1000 unread items.

    Rather than get stressed, though, this is a great opportunity to purge. So many feeds only post every couple of days, and it’s just not worth the trouble to unsubscribe, or I don’t realize how bad the feed is.

    But after several days the ‘bad’ items in a feed stack up, so it’s easier to sort the wheat from the chaff. So when I get a few days worth of items I’ll comb through my feeds more carefully, reading them a *feed* at a time rather than a *category* at a time. That way it’s easy to see if all the items are just not very interesting and, when that happens, I’ll unsubscribe.

    I won’t claim that this keeps my feeds totally under control because I continually add new feeds as well.

  3. […] Marginal Revolution, one of the feeds I check religiously, I found this post by Scott Golder. It covers something I’ve been working on for the past four months: how to manage a great […]

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