Change Your Google Reader, Change Your Life

Change Your Google Reader, Change Your Life

Are you familiar with feed readers?  An RSS reader is a web tool that allows you to follow all the blogs you read in one place.  It’s made to be a convenience tool–but it can also change your life, if you let it.  We’ll get to that part in a minute; first, let me tell you how a reader works.

Google Reader is the feed reader I use.  (Other popular RSS readers include Bloglines and Bloglovin.)  I’m a recent Google Reader convert–it’s only in the past year that I’ve discovered Google Reader and learned that instead of bookmarking my favorite blogs, or typing their addresses into the address bar to see if they’ve been updated, I could use a feed reader to gather all the blogs I read together in one place.  A feed reader like Google Reader allows you to create your own custom, curated collection of blog: it’s like a magazine you design just for you.

I follow several blogs that aren’t updated very often, and Google Reader is a brilliant tool for reading these blogs.  I don’t have to keep going back to the blogs to check for new posts:  as soon as a new post appears on the blog, I’ll be able to see it in my reader.

The RSS Reader as Motivational Tool

I subscribe to blogs that write about stuff I’m interested in.  Doesn’t everyone?

But I accidentally made a discovery: If I add blogs to my reader because I want to be interested in those topics, I’ll be much more likely to be interested.  If I’m reading The Simple Dollar everyday, I’ll stay interested in frugal living.  If I’m regularly checking the Crossfit main page, staying fit will stay on my mind.  And if you’ve recently made some resolutions or set goals for the New Year, I highly recommend using your feed reader to maintain your focus and follow through.

When you subscribe to a blog’s RSS feed (RSS stands for “Really Simple Syndication”), you’re asking that new content be delivered to you regularly. And if you’re trying to maintain focus on your finances, or good health, or staying organized, having regular reminders appear in your feed reader helps you keep your eye on the ball.  (And if you don’t think a feed reader is for you, you can always choose to subscribe by email and have new posts delivered to your inbox.)

In the past week I’ve deliberately added blogs to my reader in categories I want to stay focused on.  For example, I want to learn about the craft of writing this year, so I just subscribed to Goins, Writer and The Handwritten–two writing blogs to help me stay focused on the subject.

What do you want to stay focused on this year?  Feel free to borrow these blogs from my reader to help you keep your focus:

Health:  Mark’s Daily Apple, Wellness Mama

Finances: The Simple Dollar, Money Saving Mom

Simplifying: Unclutterer, Simple Mom

Fashion:  Already Pretty, Betty Beguiles

Organization: I Heart Organizing, Organizing Your Way

What do you want to stay focused on this year?

28 comments | Comment

28 comments

  1. Question: What’s the difference between a reader and “follow”? For example, when I see a blog that is written through blogger (and I’m logged in), I have a “Follow” button on the top left of the screen. If I like the blog enough, I click follow there and then all the blogs that I’ve followed show up on my blogger dashboard as they are updated. Isn’t that basically the same thing, or am I missing something that would simplify my life even more? Hope that makes sense. Working on year 3 of blogging and I’m still a total novice! 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Carrie, I’m not on blogger, but it sounds like if the blogs appear on your dashboard as they are updated, then it accomplishes the same thing a feed reader would.

  2. Rebecca says:

    Love my Google reader! My hubby set up an iGoogle home page for me a couple of years ago so I have my reader, g-mail, facebook feed, local news, and weather all in one spot as soon as I start up the computer. Gotta have my Modern Mrs. Darcy fix!

    Nourished Kitchen is my gentle reminder to include whole foods and back off the carbs, and Lifehacker provides a little “geek fun”.

  3. If you use Google Reader, then you absolutely must install the Google Next button. It transformed my blog reading habits! The Reader doesn’t make it easy to read and comment, plus you miss out on the design and so on. With the Next button, you’re taken directly to the blog. When you’re done reading, you hit Next and it takes you to the next newest post.

    This post from Rage Against the Minivan explains how to add it: http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2011/03/if-you-read-blogs-you-should-read-this.html

    • Emily B says:

      Another vote for the Next button in Google Reader! That’s how I got to this post today. My Next button is in my toolbar, right next to a Subscribe button for Google Reader. That way, if I end up at another blog/site that may have been linked to by one I regularly read (or general internet wandering) and I want to add it, all I have to do is hit “Subscribe” in my toolbar, and it takes me straight to Google Reader to confirm. Love it! Totally changed by blog reading habits, too. Instead of having a bunch of posts arrive in my email inbox, making me feel like I have to read them then so I don’t have unread items and so I can take action (i.e. delete or whatever), I can use my browser and Next to read through posts when I have the time or when I’m taking a break.

  4. I also have Blogger; that’s the tool I use to write my own blog. And on Blogger’s “Dashboard” (aptly named; it has everything including a lot of buttons), all the blogs I follow pop up in a list when they’re updated. I can see the first few lines of each post so I can decide if I want to read it or not. There are also links on Dashboard to update my own blog, check stats, check comments, edit anything on my blog, and look at the blogs that Blogger recommends I read.

    Question, though: the stats on Blogger aren’t as all-encompassing as I’d like. Who uses what to find the stats for their blog, and what features do those tools have? What do you all like?

    • Anne says:

      Jaimie, I use Google Analytics and Statcounter. I started with Analytics, but now I use Statcounter more often because it’s so quick and easy. I use Blogging With Amy as my starting point for basic info about bloggy stuff like that.

  5. Jennifer says:

    I have all the blogs I read in Google reader, and read it in Flipboard on my iPad. Then it’s like thumbing thru a magazine. Easy to read, easy to access, easy to comment. Love it!!

  6. Malisa says:

    Great tip on the benefits of Google Reader! I love my reader and I totally forget to add things I want to “grow” in. Thanks, Anne!

  7. Emily says:

    What a fantastic idea! I hadn’t thought about adding things I want to be interested in. So glad you shared & suggested some of the blogs you follow – I’ll definitely be adding them to my rss and removing some of my lesser read items. 🙂 Happy New Year!

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  10. Gabriel says:

    Nice blog!
    If you like and use google reader I suggest you to try Feedly. Web version or Android and iOS app.
    http://www.feedly.com/home
    It uses the reader account but is more functional and pleasant than Reader.
    I have tried many RSS readers based on Google Reader and this is by far the best and also free.
    Flipboard is also nice but not as useful as Feedly

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