how I conquered my Google Reader

Like many of you, my world changed the day I discovered Google Reader. It was like a lightbulb went off in my head when I realized I could have all of my favorite blogs in one place. And when I discovered a new one, I could just subscribe. So easy. And it would just tell me whenever something new was posted. Like magic! Like good old Google-powered magic.

And then one day, I logged on and realized I was subscribed to hundreds (wish I was kidding on this!) of blogs and had 1000+ items in my Reader! 1000+! Google Reader stops counting after 1000 posts 'cause they know you shouldn't try to get through that many.

Since that day, I've been trying constantly to win the battle against my Reader. I've gone through and strategically and unapologetically unsubscribed from blogs that I don't read often. I've attempted to put a module on my home page so that I can try to keep up with things periodically as they come in. But it always gets out of hand. There's just too much good stuff out there to look at, too much pretty on the internets that I want to see.

And just one day away would create a Google Reader monster. And I, being the over-achiever that I am, would feel so guilty, like I had let all of these blog authors down, buy not being able to read everything. But, oh, I would certainly try! I would try and try and then an hour or two would go by. And then I realized that there must be a better way to do this or else I would spent the rest of my life just reading blogs. The rest of my life, y'all.

So, are you dying for my solution? Can't wait to hear what I did to finally keep the Reader under my control?

My secret weapon: I use the "mark all as read" button all the time.

Here's my process:

  1. I usually log onto my Reader as a type of reward for getting something useful accomplished. And I always give myself a time limit. Or I'll read things while eating breakfast or taking a quick break. Limits are key, people!
  2. I check out how many total new items are waiting for me. Sometimes this is a low number like 7, in which case I'll just click on "all items" and go through the list. But sometimes, this is a crazy number like 347 or 1000+. In these cases, proceed to step 2.
  3. When the number is high, I skip reading "all items" and scroll through the listing of individual blogs on the left-hand side. I then only read the ones that are very important to me. Artists I love, real-life friends, people who never fail to inspire me. Those are the ones I give my energy to. If I've been away from my Reader for a few days, this usually will take up most, if not all, of my allotted time.
  4. Then I go to the top of the page and "Mark all as read." Yes, this is bold (hehe) and the first time I did it, I found it slightly terrifying, asking myself things like, "Oh, but what if there's something that I'm about to skip that is amazing, life-changing? What if I miss out on the coolest thing in the world?"
  5. The key: Once you've gotten rid of everything, or actually right before, realize that your life is complete as is and reading blogs is only an enrichment, not a completion. Right? Don't we all have enough in our lives that missing out on a few blog posts isn't going to be life-altering?
  6. Repeat as often as necessary.

Do you have any tips for keeping clear of online clutter? Please share in the comments! I'm sure we could all use them!!!