Have you read my “Start Here” page? If so, you understand that I generally think technology is a good thing. I will touch on the subject frequently in this blog, and I want to start with a simple technology that I use nearly every day.
I submit to you that this technology can 1) make you wiser, 2) save you time and 3) help you to never waste time. I know you’re super-excited to learn of this technology and to get on board right away. “What is it?” you ask (near breathless, I am imagining). I am happy to introduce you to…Google Reader!!!
Google Reader Explained
Right now you may be thinking that I am far too easily impressed, but bear with me. I will make my point. First of all, for those who don’t know anything about Google Reader, let me explain what it is. It is a way of gathering all your favorite blogs and/or websites in one place and going only to that one place to read them at your convenience rather than clicking all over the web (or, as in my case, forgetting about them). For someone like me who lives out in the boondocks (my pleasant place!), this is particularly important because it saves download time. But it is beneficial in other ways, too. The best way to explain this is to give you a typical scenario from my B.G.R. (before Google Reader) days.
In my daily web reading–maybe via a link emailed to me or via a clicked link in an online article–I would come across a blog post that I really enjoyed or benefited from (or both). After reading the post, I would make note of the name of the site and think, “I should stay up with this blog. This is really good stuff.” If I was really motivated, I might even sign up to be notified by email when a new post went online, but more often than not in those cases (maybe 98% of the time!), when that notification hit my inbox, there were so many other emails demanding my attention and I would be feeling overwhelmed by my “to do” list and the notification email would get deleted as a quick fix to reduce my bulging inbox.
Enter Google Reader. I don’t remember how I “discovered” Google Reader, but I do remember how valuable it was to me almost immediately. Now I never forget about those interesting blog sites that I stumble across. I just subscribe to them, and every time I go to Google Reader, there they are begging to be read! When I filed them away amongst my emails (BGR), they were never seen again.
Google Reader not only helps me manage my reading list, but it also indirectly helps me manage my email inbox, to. One of the first things I did after setting up Google Reader was to unsubscribe to the many feeds that were coming into my inbox and then re-subscribe to them (if they were important to me) through Google Reader.
Maybe you think that Google Reader wouldn’t do you any good because you don’t read blogs. If that is the case, my friend, then let me enlighten you. If you are interested in ANYTHING, there is a blog about it (and if there’s not, then you should consider starting one!). There are news blogs, every kind of sports blog you can imagine, travel blogs, knitting blogs, pet blogs, saving money blogs, entrepreneur blogs, etc., etc., etc. If you’re content with the knowledge that you already have, then perhaps you don’t need something like Google Reader, but if you want more information, more knowledge, a broader perspective, then I urge you to at least check out some options. And Google Reader makes this so easy.
How To Find Blogs That Interest You
After you set up your Google account, you simply click the “Add Subscription” button and then either type in the URL for the blog that you are interested in (e.g., www.mypleasantplaces.com), the name of the blog (e.g., Pleasant Places) or you can type in a search word or phrase (e.g., running). The latter option is how I discovered some of my very favorite blogs.
There’s another way to subscribe to a blog without being in Reader. Let’s say you’re reading a blog that’s really interesting to you. Right then and there, you simply have to click on the RSS symbol in the address bar at the top right corner. You will be redirected to a page that asks you what Reader you want to use, and of course you’ll choose Google. Then you’ll be given one more choice: “Add to Google Home Page” or “Add to Google Reader.” Choose the second one, and voila!, you’re subscribed.
A Snapshot of YOU!
Setting up your subscriptions is quite a fun and revealing process. It offers a peek into your soul, as it is all about your interests, your job, your hobbies, your dreams, etc. You’ll be able to glance over your list and see a snapshot of who you are.
For instance, I currently have 30-something blogs in my list. There are 7 blogs that pertain to my real estate business (I’m a Realtor), 9 blogs about running/fitness/health, 2 blogs about brain health and improving your memory, 5 blogs about finance (mainly about saving money), 3 blogs about time and life management/organization, 1 cooking blog, 1 hiking blog, a couple of entrepreneurial blogs, a couple of techno blogs a couple of friends/family blogs. I even read a couple of blogs about blogging! 🙂
My list is always changing. When I start to feel that a blogger is saying the same thing over and over in his posts, I unsubscribe. When I follow a link to a new blog and find it interesting, inspiring or thought-provoking, I subscribe and add it to my list. Because it’s so easy to subscribe and unsubscribe, I don’t hesitate to add new blogs to my list.
An Added Bonus
What about those blogs that are not in the “big time,” yet–those that don’t show up when you search under key words and phrases? What about your friend’s photography blog or your sister’s personal blog or your niece’s mission-trip blog? These are so important because they keep you connected to loved ones who may be thousands of miles away. Before Google Reader, I was a failure at reading these most-important blogs. It wasn’t a matter of disinterest but a matter of forgetfulness–and slow internet connections (have I mentioned how slow my internet is?). If there had been some way to know when a new post was added, I might have been more faithful about reading them, but at that time, I was still unaware of readers, and so I missed out on some great bonding opportunities.
With Google Reader, you can subscribe to these blogs just like any other–by going to the blog and clicking the RSS icon in the address bar.
Living Up To the Claims
I made some big claims in the opening of this article. Let’s revisit them.
1) It will make you smarter. It’s not difficult to figure out how Google Reader can do this. If you read several different sources about a single subject, you’re going to be well-rounded in that subject and you’re going to know more about it than the average guy. Google Reader just simplifies the process.
2) It will save you time. No more clicking around the web from one site to another. Just go to Google Reader and read everything there. Not only will you save time going from site to site, but you will also save download time, as well. As you might have deduced from this post, that is very important to me.
3) It will help you not waste time. This may sound like a different way of saying what I just said, but in actuality, I mean something very different. In my line of work, I often end up waiting on people. This is not a problem at all because I ALWAYS have something to read–quality reading material. So whether I am in a doctor’s waiting room, waiting on a client or waiting at a drive-through (yes, there are posts that I can read that quickly), I can invest that time in something worthwhile. (I’ll share in a near-future post how I am able to to always have my reading with me.)
Finally, as mentioned in “An Added Bonus” above, we could add a fourth claim to the list–Google Reader can enhance relationships with family and friends.
In all fairness, I must say that there are other readers besides Google Reader, but I don’t know anything about them, though I’m sure they work somewhat the same way.
Below are some links that further explain Google Reader and that will walk you step-by-step through setting up your own account. I’m anxiously awaiting your comments. Do you find it as helpful as I do? Where do you read most often? In bed, in your easy chair, in a checkout line, in a drive-through, while waiting on people? Please comment!
Google Reader in Plain English (a very short video)