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.