Staying informed and making the best use of the information available is not an easy task if you consider the wealth of information available online. Over the last couple of months I’ve build a workflow which helps me deal with my reading. There are four elements in my little reading system: Discovery, Consumption, Retention, Action.
The primary tool which let’s my make the most of reading and helps me support this process is Instapaper. It’s fantastic web application that connects all the dots in my system. Although it’s geared toward iOS users (there are great apps for iPhone and iPad) I’m getting a ton of use on my laptop, Android phone and Kindle. If you look for an application to manage your reading I would give it a serious thought.
There are two primary ways of discovering new and interesting content. First is Google Reader which let’s me subscribe to RSS feeds of favorite blogs and sites. My second way of finding content is Twitter and with good mix of similar minded people I can always find best content. Google+ is worth mentioning here as well although for me it’s primary discussion forum I suspect that over time it will become a information source.
Once I come across an interesting post or article I clip it into Instapaper or if I’m using my phone I add it to an app called Everpaper.
My primary ways for consuming content are my laptop, smartphone and Kindle. Again Instapaper proves to be invaluable tool to make this possible. Ability to access my items on laptop and smartphone is very convenient but what’s more important is that I can send daily digest of 10 most recent articles into my Kindle. Additionally if I have a large number of articles to go through I can generate a file with all of them and then email it to my Kindle. Support for Kindle is one of the primary reasons I’m using Instapaper.
When I come across a particularly interesting article or blog post which I would like to keep I save it into my Pinboard account. This is my primary bookmarking service which lets me store my favorites online and have them tagged in every way I want. Ability to jot some note about bookmark and generate public RSS for tags makes it very versatile service. The app may not provide most eye candy but it definitely does get job done in quick and effective way. It’s worth to mention that Instapaper allows me to send any article to Pinboard. So each time I favorite an item it gets send to my bookmarking service for future reference. Then on weekly basis I review my recent items and add additional tags and notes if necessary.
The point of increasing your knowledge is to make use out of it. For me there are three primary forms in which I interact with the content I found useful. First one is to share the content on Twitter, Tumbler or Google+. Second way is to use saved articles as inspiration for my own writing. For that I use a combination of WriteMonkey and text files to put down my thoughts and ideas and then publish on this site. A third option is to implements some of the ideas. This can be a tricky thing as it’s easy to collect dozens of ideas and not test any. In order to counter that I try to add only one to two things into my task manager and see how things work. Other ideas end up on my productivity mind map where I collect handy tips and tricks for later experimentation.