How To Organize Google Reader For Peak Productivity

My Google Reader is unequivocally my #1 time waster. Facebook is probably a close second, but at least there I actually interact with people, so it's somewhat productive. For the most part, with blog feeds it's a one way thing, we me reading the articles, and very rarely taking any immediate action.

I can sometimes spend hours just reading. I don't have an outrageous amount of blogs in my reader (I think it's about 120 right now), but the way I had them organized really made it easy to use the information unproductively. I previously categorized all the blogs by type .. ie, "marketing", "friends", "technology", "politics" etc., While on the surface, this sounds like it would be useful, in reality all it really did was let me easily skip from time waster to time waster without even realizing it.

My new organizing plan only has 3 categories:

  1. - interact: These are blogs that are either written by people I'm already friends with, people I want to be friends with, and/or they have a strong sense of community. My friend Sire's wassup blog is a good example of #s 1 and 2. And Jim's marketing blog falls into # 2 .. a site that I like reading, but would like to participate in a bit more.

    I placed this category in the #1 position, because this is the area where reading can be most productive, and therefore where I plan to try to spend most of my time. A while back, I wrote a post called Don't Be an Invisible Reader where I outlined some steps to take to interact better with these types of blogs ...

    If I read something good in this section, I want to do one of several things: tweet about it, share it on facebook, go leave a comment on the blog, and/or share it in google reader (which will send it immediately to Buzz, and allow me to use it later in a "link love" type post.

    That's my goal, we'll so it works out ... I've been way more invisible than I should be here lately.

  2. - learn: These are blogs that I definitely want to have in my reader, and reading them can be very productive ... but I usually don't have anything to add to the conversation, so I won't stress too much about trying to interact with blogs such ask Seth Godin's, or Zen Habits

  3. - time waster: This final section, as you can probably guess, now contains the type f blogs that I think I've been spending too much of my time on lately. I'm not going to link to anything that have termed a "time waster" (that wouldn't be fair, as there are some really good blogs in this section). But suffice it to say, this section contains things like news sites, political blogs, technology blogs, and even the majority of the marketing blogs that I'm subscribed to.

    These are sites that I still want to be able to read, but I need to be careful that I'm not spending too much of my (limited) online time simply perusing the equivalent of mental candy. I'd like to have about a 2 or 3 to 1 ratio between this section and the others. Then, if I've had a good productive day interacting and making new friends, I can go read about politics for a while, and not feel guilty.

So how about you ... what are some things you do to help stay productive when you're online and reading other people's blogs?

Thanks in advance for your answers.



  1. Aaaaagh!!! I just typed a three-paragraph comment and clicked on "Who I am" down there in the RSS area and it took me to my blog and I lost the whole comment!

    Sorry. The gyst of it was that your site looks really snazzy & professional & that if I were still doing the blog circuit I'd do it just the way you do. Oh, and don't think we don't know about your "loopy chicks" category (#4).
    .-= Heather Kephart´s last blog ..It’s Not All Flowers and Sausages =-.

  2. Hi Heather,

    Oh darn, I hate it when that happens .. and it has happened to me, many times ... now I almost always highlight and copy before I hit any buttons. :-)

    As for the site looking "professional and snazzy", lol thanks ... it was time for a change again (although I've used this theme before). That being said, I need to work on writing more "good" stuff that people might actually want to read. My kids are beautiful and all, but if I only post pictures of them, even my friends will get bored eventually.

    lol ... and you weren't supposed to notice that "loopy chicks" category. But it's all good, loopy chicks make the world go round ... or so I've heard :-D

  3. Hey Todd, aren't I lucky one, not only did I get a link back to my blog but you also got a snapshot of my last post in your image. I reckon that must be the first for me.

    Even though I subscribe to several blogs I don't actually keep track of them on my google reader, basically because I just don't have the time these days. I used to be able to leave comments all over the place but now I pretty well only visit those that leave a comment on my blog.

    That alone keeps me pretty busy as well as lead me to some damn good posts.

    Thanks for the link luv mate.
    .-= Sire´s last blog ..Stand By Me And We Will Become Better Bloggers =-.

  4. Couldn't pass on a Google Reader post, especially from another Todd. Google Reader is a competitive advantage for me. I have 585 subs in 36 categories and I view around 7,000 summaries in a 30 day period. I usually comment or share the most interesting things I find in my blog at 'via' Posterous that my feedreading helps drive my internet marketing as well. btw, I only read a small portion of my subs every day but since my Google Reader is made up of trusted news sources, I usually search there for a good answer before I try the rest of the internet. Google Reader is my killer app...
    .-= Todd Lohenry´s last blog ..How to use LinkedIn with business savvy =-.

  5. btw, interested in your choice of Comment Luv over Discus. Have any thoughts to share on that?
    .-= Todd Lohenry´s last blog ..How to use LinkedIn with business savvy =-.

  6. Hi Sire,

    Yes, with the community that you have going on over at your blog, I would imagine that just trying to keep up with your friends does keep you pretty busy. :-)

  7. Hi Todd,

    My biggest problem with the way I previously organized wasn't a lack of quality sites ... it was more the way I used it. For me it's a personality thing. I need to "help myself" find a way to do more working and less reading. :-)

  8. I’ve been using commentluv pretty much since Andy first developed it.

    As far as Discus, I have had it installed before, but to be honest it just added another layer of potential complications. The thing I did like about it was that people could sign in to comment with facebook and twitter if they so choose … but now, I can do that too with plugins (have the option on one of my other sites, but haven’t gotten around to setting it up here yet).

  9. I had no idea you could do that. I may need to revamp my google reader, that's a neat idea.

  10. I need to prioritize my reader that way. Great idea. I, too, can waste away too much time on there. Love your blog. Your pool story cracked me up.
    .-= Melinda´s last blog ..In a cleaning pickle? Reach for the vinegar. =-.

  11. Ari .. glad you like the idea .. if you need any help just let me know .

  12. Hi Melinda,

    Glad to have helped ... and it just so happens that I'm in need of some organization, so I've subscribed to your blog and added it to the "interact" category ... now, if you don't see me over there interacting, feel free to come back and give me a nudge :-)

  13. Coming (very) late to the discussion, but I'm in the same boat as Todd Lohenry up there. 900+ feeds in google reader, several thousand read/month. Big time waster (and my gf hounds me about it!).

    My system is sort of similar - I use "always," "often," and "trial" as main folders. Feeds get upgraded and downgraded accordingly (and eventually booted from the trial folder). If I want more fine-grained organization, I create always.subject, often.anothersubject as folder names.

    Thanks for the post!


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