Reading Feeds

I just don’t have time.

A while back, I started using endo, a feed reader application, to keep up with new content on a few sites. At first, I was able to check in once or twice a day and the number of unread articles never exceeded 20. But then I got busy with other things and couldn’t check in regularly. Now the unread article count is over 500 and I dread wading through what’s there.

What’s In It For Me

I find that about 50% of the material on the feeds I follow is simply not the least bit interesting to me. Unfortunately, those articles are spread out among all the feeds I follow — about two dozen of them. (If I find more than 75% of the content from a single feed uninteresting, I simply unsubscribe.) Those are the easy articles to go through. It takes only a few seconds to read the title and scan through the first paragraph or summary before I hit the up arrow key and move on to the next unread entry.

Of the remaining 50% of the content, about 80% (or roughly 40% of the whole) is mildly interesting and worth a good read. I sometimes link to these articles using bookmarks to generate the This Just In category links entries you might see online here. In fact,that’s how you can find out whether I’ve been reading Web-based content; if there’s a Links post in the morning, I was reading Web content the day before. The more links in the post, the more I read and enjoyed. This takes time, of course, because I have to read through these articles to really appreciate them.

The remaining content (if you’re following the math, that’s 10% of the total content for the feeds I follow) are what I call “keepers.” A keeper is an article that is worth reading not just once, but at least twice. It’s worth keeping a link to — perhaps even bookmarking for future reference. (I’m very stingy with my internal bookmarking.) These articles trigger ideas for writing in my own blog, for expanding on the thoughts of the source blogger to add fresh content to the blogosphere. They also give me ideas for other projects or things I can do to change my way of working to be more productive. This is the real time sucker and the reason I can’t keep up with the feeds I subscribe to. I don’t want to miss these articles. I want to find them and give them the time they deserve. Unfortunately, I just don’t have enough time to give. So I don’t give any; I wait until — well, what?

Why I Don’t Have Time

Currently, I’m under contract to write two books. One is about halfway finished; the other hasn’t been started yet. I’m using up all my big blocks of time at my desk these days, writing about Excel 2007 for Windows. I’m also writing articles for FileMaker Advisor and Informit. And I’m writing blog entries — or trying to — at least once a day.

I’m also preparing for a big “trade show” in Scottsdale — Big Boys and Their Toys Luxury Men’s Expo. I’ll be parking my helicopter on the show floor for two days, handing out brochures and signing people up for my multi-day excursions. So I’m preparing for that by ordering new brochures and logo hats, arranging for booth furniture and electricity, and trying to find two energetic and dependable people to help out with the booth. (If you live in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, have a neat and presentable appearance and an interest in helicopters, and want a job for the weekend of March 17-18, contact me.) And in the evening, I’m sitting in front of my computer, turning hundreds of photographs and hours of video into a DVD of destinations to show at our booth.

Between all that, I’m flying helicopter charters. I did two on Sunday, I have one today, I have one on Thursday, and I have another one on Saturday. This is revenue my little company sorely needs to cover the cost of things like this trade show, so turning down flights like this would not be a good idea.

Does that give you an idea of how I’m spending my time? Can you see why I don’t have time to wade through the hundreds of accumulated posts that have accumulated in endo?

Well, enough whining for today. Time to get back to work.

And if you’re wondering how much time I used up writing this, it was less than 30 minutes. My morning coffee time. Thank heaven for multitasking.

What do you think?