Clearing Out the Blog Closet, by Molly (The Bumbles Blog)

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Molly is co-author (with her husband Andy) of The Bumbles Blog, which manages to combine the attributes of being both eclectic and focused, thanks to its daily, recurring themes. Proud to be niche-less, they created the Monday Movie Meme, and post about books, movies, photos, sports, and fun during the rest of the week. They focus on blog and tech topics on Fridays; I’m a fan of their “blogging confessional” feature BlogAnon, where they discuss various blogging issues and own up to assorted blogging “sins” or idiosyncratic practices.

Please welcome today’s guest blogger to The 3 R’s, as she shares a strategy for decluttering and managing your Google Reader!

Until recently, my strategy for maximizing my Google Reader was to “Mark All As Read.”  Amazing how those 400+ posts looming like Catholic Guilt just disappear with a click of a button isn’t it?  The problem was, they kept coming back, multiplying like rabbits, at a furious pace.  And the less of them that I read, the more good stuff I missed out on.  Connections with my peeps were getting strained.  Visits to our blog were dropping.  You get what you give in the blogosphere.  And since I’m all about building your online community, I needed to find a way to set a better example.  Here’s what I did – maybe it will work for you too.
Step #1 – The Great Purge:
Once or twice a year, I get into a purge mode.  I attack my closet and leave my usual indecisive & sentimental attitude outside.  Each piece is pulled out, tried on, evaluated and placed in one of two piles – keep or donate.  If it doesn’t fit – away it goes.  If I haven’t worn it since the last purge – away it goes.  If it is tattered – away it goes.  It is an empowering feeling to take control of that closet and be able to see everything that I have.  The Great Purge clears things up by removing the clutter and saves me time getting ready every day, making mornings less stressful.  And it works with your Google Reader too.
I went through my Reader and deleted every subscription that hadn’t posted anything in the last month. Then I looked at how many active subscriptions I had in there.  I set a limit for myself based upon how many blogs I realistically thought I had time to follow from week to week.  And then I went through and unsubscribed from those that didn’t fit my interests, that had turned into something I didn’t care for or that I just didn’t have time to keep up with.  Same process as with the closet.  And now I can actual see all the quality posts I’ve been missing because of the endless stream of information, much of which I didn’t need to begin with.
Step #2 – Playing Favorites:
Of course I have my favorite clothes – those that seem to get put in the rotation every week.  They just fit better, or bring out my eyes or some such thing, which makes me feel good when I wear them. And there are those comfy clothes that I change into each night after work to wind down the day ensconced in happiness.  I have my favorite blogs too, the ones I like to touch base with daily.  So it only makes sense to put them in a special folder for easy access.
My favorites folder is called “Because I Love Them” – in honor of why I change into the same comfy clothes each evening.  It contains my personal Top 20 blogs that I want to read each and every day.  I may not comment on them every day, but I want to read everything they post as they post it.  There’s nothing wrong with having favorites.  Think of them as your BFF’s in the blogosphere.  It takes a long, hard look to get into my faves folder.  Because in order to get in, someone else has to be moved out – that 20 blog limit is set in stone.  No exceptions.  Otherwise I’ll end up having to do the Great Purge again.  
Step #3 – The Daily Special:
Do you remember those sets of underwear that had the days of the week printed on them?  You wore your Monday panties on Monday, Tuesday’s on Tuesday and so on.  One less choice to make each morning!  Well, to simplify my Reader, I gave it daily folders – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday.
I took my remaining subscriptions and randomly allocated them evenly amongst my daily folders.  A few book blogs here, a few photo blogs there, throw in a few food blogs and a dash of humor blogs for a nice mix.  Then every day I’ve got a folder to open up and read a variety of posts.  My commitment each day is only to the contents of that day’s folder.  No messing around, deciding which feed to read.  No overwhelming list of unread items to worry about.  And it’s fun again.  Kind of like those silly but practical undies.
Step #4 – Add Some Pizzazz:
I can’t really afford many fancy outfits – and I don’t have many occasions to wear them anyway.  So sometimes it is better to just dress up what you’ve already got and be a little spiffy even when you don’t need to be.  It saves money and still looks good.  Versatility rocks.  That’s why I use Feedly.*
Feedly is an add-on through Mozilla’s Firefox browser.  Firefox is faster and more attractive than Internet Explorer, and nowadays is compatible with most everything – so that’s why I use it.  The less time I spend waiting for a page to upload, the more time I have to blog.  A sweet bonus is that Firefox’s Feedly pulls all of my information from Google Reader and displays it in a magazine styled format which is easier to read, more attractive to look at and just as simple to maneuver around in.  Plus it pulls my Twitter home page feed right in to the side bar, which makes it one stop shopping – versatile and spiffy.  Just like my wardrobe.  Can’t get any better than that.

*A note from me: I’ve added Feedly to Firefox on my MacBook, and it’s a beautifully streamlined reading experience. I’m not dumping Google Reader, which I think is better for quickly skimming a large number of posts, but Feedly is a nice change and I’ll second Molly’s recommendation – give it a try!

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