If you’re only a little bit like me then you’re subscribed to a multitude of RSS feeds from various blogs and web sites from all around the web.
In the past I often wasn’t able to keep up with all the new feed items that were published on a daily basis – especially if I already had a busy schedule. That’s why I sat down recently and thought about different ways to make it easier to stay up to date without being flooded with unread feed items.
In this article I’ll share several different ways with you that will allow you to keep up with the RSS Feeds you subscribed to.
Choose the Right Feed Reader
One of the most important tools you need in order to keep track of your feeds is your feed reader. There are literally thousands of different feed reading applications you can choose from, but you’ll need to figure out on your own which one suits your needs the best. One feature I highly recommend is some sort of folder, label or tag system (More on this later).
Here are some recommendations:
Online Feed Readers
One of the most popular feed readers and also the feed reader of my choice. Google Reader has a multitude of useful features including a useful folder and labeling system, seamless integration with other Google services and even the option to subscribe to web pages without RSS Feed.
Even though FeedShow is less known it isn’t inferior to the previous two feed readers. It offers similar features, such as a folder functionality, local storage of feed items, instant conversion into pdf- and print-ready files.
Sage (Firefox only)
Sage is a Firefox addon that integrates seamlessly with Firefox’s native bookmarking system, enables feed discovery and allows you to apply custom stylesheets. It is furthermore available in several languages and let’s you import and export feed lists (OPML).
Feedly is a browser extension currently available for Firefox and Chrome as well as a Safari-compatible version will be released soon. Feedly allows you to create your own custom start page based on your feeds (it integrates with Google Reader), Twitter account and other web services such as YouTube, Amazon and Delicious.
Rss Ticker (Firefox only)
Another Firefox addon that allows you to quickly display your feeds and scroll their entries across your screen while you surf. It’s perfect for staying informed without having to actively browse entries in an RSS reader.
Desktop Feed Readers
Newzie is a great desktop feed aggregator for Windows. It comes with a true multitude of features such as the combination of several feeds into one bulk feed, updates of web sites without traditional feeds and colored feed titles based on publishing date.
RSS Bandit has been around for quite some time now, but offers nonetheless some state of the art features. You can synchronize your feeds with Google Reader, download and manage Podcasts and have several storage options.
This desktop feed reader is a great addition for every Mac. It seamlessly integrates with many native Mac applications like iTunes or Twitterific to handle different form of data like Podcasts as well as it syncs with Google Reader.
Review Your Subscriptions Regularly
Over the years I subscribed to more and more new RSS-Feeds without ever sorting old ones out. Sometimes you or the respective blog shifts its interests/focus or you subscribed to a blog that simply isn’t publishing good content on a regular basis. After some time this resulted in a lot of items in my feed reader I wasn’t interested in. It is essential that you review all your subscriptions on a semi-regular basis (every 3 months or so) and sort out dead feeds (even though they’re not really spamming your feed reader, there is no reason for keeping them) and feeds you aren’t interested in anymore.
Subscribe to Category Feeds instead of Full Feeds
There are more and more blogs that offer category-specific feeds. If you decide to subscribe to a category feed (or several) you get only updates that are published under the category you subscribed to. This is perfect for blogs with a wide variety of topics – you can subscribe only to the categories that really interest you and your feed reader won’t be flooded with entries that are irrelevant to you.
Although we’re currently not featuring category-specific RSS-Feeds on DesignLovr we’re definitely going to implement this feature in the near future. Please bear with us in the meantime and don’t hesitate to subscribe to our full RSS-Feed.
Organize Them with Folders/Labels/Tags
Because I’m using Google Reader I’m talking based on my experiences with exactly that reader, but when choosing your reader you should make sure that he features some sort of folder, tag or label system that allows you to organize your different feeds. One way to approach this is to assign them based on content type, but that might not be the best solution, especially if you’re subscribed to blogs that cover a wide range of topics (e.g. Abduzeedo, Design Informer and even DesignLovr). I recommend you to sort them after priority. Put all your must-reads in one folder (or label/tag), blogs that output a lot of average content in another one, etc.
This allows you to prioritize easily when you don’t have much time.
Subscribe with Different Feed Readers
Not everybody will like this method, but you could also consider to subscribe to different feeds with different feed readers. This would allow you to keep as an example personal and professional feeds completely separated. By subscribing to your most important feeds with one feed reader (RSS Ticker as an example) and to less important ones with another you could also take the priority based labeling of your feeds one step further.
Use Twitter Instead of RSS
I’m sure there are certain blogs that only occasionally publish content that is of interest for you. If you don’t want to crowd your feed reader with unnecessary feeds consider simply following those blogs on Twitter. Depending on how closely you monitor your Twitter activity you won’t miss much and eventually even get additional links to other interesting reads.
Set Feed Reading Time Aside
The best way to keep up with your feeds is to set yourself some time aside, either daily or weekly. By taking everyday half an hour to an hour you’ll definitely be able to read several items in your feed. You could even set this time in the middle of your working day – it will be a welcome interruption of your regular work.
By using only some of the methods I presented above you can already drastically improve the way you organize and read your feeds and it will ultimately help you to save time without missing any important updates and news. Why don’t you leave a comment if you have any tips, feed readers or experiences you would like to share.