If I was asked to think about the single biggest time-saver that I have started using in the past year, I would definitely think of my RSS Reader. The mere idea behind RSS is brilliant for saving time. No longer must I repeatedly check my bookmarked websites for updates, as they are all neatly packaged in one beautiful layout. At the same time however, I am probably spending the same amount if not more time on blogs, etc today. How is this possible, when I now read websites over 500% more effectively?
Before feed reading, I would usually miss a lot of content on my favorite sites. I enjoyed visiting Digg once and a while, but I usually only read a couple pages, effectively under 20% of the content. However after subscibing via RSS, that number jumps straight to 100%. Another factor is that when visiting the actual website, I would frequently scan over the latest articles, and only click on ones I find interesting.
So how do you combat this effect?
First of all, it is a good idea to keep as little feeds as you possibly can, so that feed reading as a whole is less time consuming. A good way to find old feeds is via the "Trends" feature in Google Reader. If you organize your feeds via folders, try reading through each individual feed every week or so. When viewing the entire group, the items are all mixed up. However when viewing the feed, you can decide whether it is really worth keeping. I did this today and cleaned out 18 feeds from my list.
Second, do not subscribe to huge feeds such as Digg or Tweako. These will bring in more than 100 items per day, and are just a hassle to read. If you absolutely must, subscribe to individual sections, such as Technology, or Science.
RSS subscriptions and feed readers were invented to make life easier. Remember that next time you go on a subscribing spree.