Posts Tagged “reading”

The Daily Reading Ritual

It’s taken me a long time to find a habitual way of reading books that works for me. I call it the daily reading ritual.

When I first started my career in programming there was one titbit of advice that I had seen repeated over and over again.

Read a programming book every month.

I don’t know how many of you have read a programming book, but for those that don’t know they can be difficult to read. The trouble with programming books is that they are better used as reference books. Lookup material for when you’re stuck.

I tried the one book a month goal and I failed miserably. For the next few years I kept on trying but no matter what book it was I would either give up on it or still be reading it at the end of the month.

So how do you digest a programming book without it becoming a monotonous chore?

What I’ve found that works really well for me is that I take five non-fiction books (programming or otherwise) that I want to read and I read a chapter of each book on a specific weekday. At the moment Monday is a freelance and marketing book, Tuesday is a sketch noting book an so on. What this gives you is variety. Every day is different. It’s breaks the monotony barrier.

What about fiction books though?

Fiction books are easy to read because you usually have no idea what’s going to happen and it’s the authors job to send you to a place that’s not your usual environment. It’s a form of escapism.

I don’t set a time limit for these as it takes the enjoyment away from the book. Instead I try and read these books as often as I can. It’s usually at night when the kids are sleeping.

Since starting this ritual I’ve found it much easier to make progress on the books I’ve wanted to read. Not only that but I’ve also managed to set aside a few minutes in the morning for the non-fiction books and then at night I can plough through whatever fiction book I’m reading.

Read More

Tips on getting through your RSS feeds faster

Let me get this clear to start with. I only use my RSS reader to scan feeds from blogs that I am subscribed to. This post is just tips for getting through your RSS feeds without taking the time to read anything.

Group your feeds

Grouping your feeds is a great way to batch feeds for scanning. I group my feeds into a number of groups based on the general topics of each feed. I have groups for web development, tech businesses, bikes, picture blogs and online products and services I use.

Grouping feeds in this way means that when you scan the feeds, you’re scanning a particular topic rather than scanning a list of feeds of completely different topics.

Scan the headlines

Don’t read everything. Unless you’re following between 10 and 20 blogs, you’ll never be able to read everything in a short period of time. Instead scan the headlines of your feeds for interesting posts.

I used to read everything in my feeds in case I missed something, but reading everything takes a long time. Yes, scanning the headlines of your feeds might means you miss an interesting post, but you’ll get through your feeds a lot faster.

Use a read it later service like Instapaper

RSS readers are great for categorising and scanning your feeds, but I like to use a separate service for reading. Many RSS readers let you favourite individual articles and send them to another service like Instapaper so that you can read them at a later date.

Read it later services also let you collect articles for reading at a later date when it suits you. I tend to get through my feeds first thing in the morning. I favourite posts I want to read later. When I favourite my posts, they are sent to my Instapaper account so that I can read them later on. Many RSS readers have this feature built in and read it later services like Instapaper also have settings that let you import favourite posts from your RSS reader.

Keep a list of blogs to scan daily

I have a group of feeds that I want to scan on a daily basis. I scan this group every day first thing. It’s a collection of blogs of varying topics, but they’re blogs that I find highly valuable and therefore they’re the blogs I scan every day.

Trim dead or rarely posted feeds

I don’t subscribe to a feed that posts once a month or less frequently. I like content on at least a weekly basis from a feed. Every 2 or 3 months I check the feeds I am subscribed to determine if they’re still delivering a steady stream of content. Google Reader is great for this as it tracks the stats of each the feeds you have subscribed to. Staying on top of your feeds this way means that you can delete stale feeds and therefore have less headlines to scan.

RSS feeds and readers have fallen out of fashion with many on the Internet, but as long as people are still blogging, there will always be a place for RSS readers to consume these blogs.

Read More