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Save Time Tip #1: Become More Efficient at Online Reading

Writers talk a lot about not having enough time. Not enough time to write. Not enough time to pursue all their ideas. Not enough time to get the job done.

I thought I'd start a series of tips on how you can spend more time doing what you love, and less time fooling around. There are lots of ways people unknowingly waste their time.

Tip #1. (For the love of God): Start using an RSS reader.

Simply put, an RSS reader allows you to read all of your favorite online content in one place, without you visiting 100 different sites, or receiving 100 different alerts, or otherwise sucking away your time.

This is SO important that I'm embedding the following video, "RSS in Plain English."

I use Google Reader to keep up with all my favorite blogs and sites. Here's what it looks like when I login.

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On the left, you'll notice that I organize my reading by category, e.g. Google Alerts, Cincinnati, Enrichment, Food, Fun, Publishing. Below that list you see tags that I've used to tag posts, in case I want to see every post related to that topic.

Aside from searching all items, you can also tag your favorite items with stars, mark items as unread, or e-mail items directly from your reader. There's also a cool function with Google Reader where, if you're visiting a site outside your reader, and you'd like to save a particular item (but not subscribe to the site or blog), you can click on a button called "Note in Reader," and it will copy the item for safekeeping into your reader utility.

Now, to save even MORE time, there's a cool plug-in I recommend. First, look below at the Publishing item view from inside my Google Reader.

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You'll notice numerical rankings next to each item. This is a Firefox extension related to the site Post Rank, which rates the popularity of postings across the Web. If you subscribe to hundreds (or even thousands) of sites/blogs, this is an excellent way to only read the best stuff.

OK! So now you know what to do:

  1. Make a list of all the blogs/sites you like to read.
  2. Get an RSS reader like Google Reader.
  3. Input the addresses of all the sites into your reader.
  4. You're ready to save loads of time (and have more fun with the information too)!
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