Friday, May 31, 2013

How to Save Items to Read Later

Our mobile devices allow us to read digital material from anywhere. Often, we read something we want to review later. Perhaps we want to discuss it with someone else. Maybe we want to view some of the links in the article and don't have the time right now. Perhaps we simply want to re-read the article later. How do we handle that sort of thing in a digital world?

My digital reading material falls into four categories:
  1. Articles of interest in the 100 blogs which comprise my RSS feed
  2. Links to articles in Twitter messages
  3. Documents I have downloaded
  4. Websites I am reading and wish to re-visit

Articles in my RSS Feed
I use Feedly to gather into one place new material from the 100 blogs to which I subscribe. I can flip through articles which are of no interest. The next time I check Feedly, those articles no longer appear. I can read an article, and Feedly automatically marks it as "read." When I return to Feedly, that article no longer appears.

One situation remains. I read an article and decide I want to read it, or do something else with it, later. On each Feedly post, a small ribbon icon appears. Scrolling over that icon reveals a message, "Save for later." Clicking that ribbon turns it green and marks it as saved.


At any time, I can open Feedly and click on "Saved for Later" in the left-hand column. All of the articles I have marked are now before me. As long as the ribbon is green, the article will be available in the "Saved for Later" section. When I am done with the article, I click the green ribbon to "unsave."


Links to Articles in Twitter Messages
I find out about many good articles through links in Twitter. I usually read Twitter during spare moments. It's a great way to handle "waiting time." Clicking those links to read the articles is something that generally happens later.

When a tweet looks interesting, I click the star to "favorite" it. In Hootsuite, I have a stream labeled "Favorite Tweets." Everything I have marked on my phone while reading tweets during spare minutes shows up in this stream. When I am done with any tweet, I click the star again to "unfavorite" it.


Documents I Have Downloaded
Reading is something I like to handle in spare minutes. With printed material, I have a decorative inbox where I collect magazines and books. When I anticipate downtime on any errand, I throw some of that reading material in my briefcase.

With digital reading material, I have a folder in Dropbox called "Read." PDF or Word documents I want to review go there. I can then read then from one of my mobile devices. Periodically, I examine that folder while at my desktop computer and remove materials already read. From there, the material goes into my computer's digital filing system or is deleted.

Websites I am reading and wish to re-visit
When reading material on a website that I wish to re-read later, the trick is to get the URL for that article into my to-do list. If I am at my desktop computer, I click the Toodledo bookmarklet on my toolbar. A box opens, representing a new to-do. In the note section of that task, the article's URL will already be displayed. I set a start date and due date for when I want to see the article again. The title of the task will be something like "Read this article on (subject of article)." Clicking "Save" finishes the job.

If I am on a mobile device, touching and holding my finger on the URL gives me the option to share it and by what means. The easiest is option is to share by email. As a Toodledo user, I am assigned a special email address. Anything sent to that address goes into my Toodledo task list with start and due dates of today. When I share the link via email and must choose a recipient, the Toodledo address will be the choice. The URL will appear in the body of the email. Whatever subject line is entered will become the name of the task in Toodledo.

Plenty of special apps exist for handling the concept of saving websites for later viewing. My preferences has always been to pick a very few tools and use them extensively. So, if the task can be accomplished with tools already in my arsenal, I generally reject the additional tool or app.

I only do two things
Those who have heard me speak know that I do only two things every day: check the tickler file and work my to-do list. Everything I have to do feeds ointo one or the other. On my list, you would see a repeating task prompting me to check the saved items in Feedly. You will see a second prompting me to check my "Favorite Tweets" in Hootsuite. Both of those repeating tasks appear weekly.

A great deal of new material comes my way on a daily basis. The ability to get through it quickly, mark what needs to be revisited in depth later, and move on is a key to productivity in this information age.


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