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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Two Steps for Keeping Up With a Firehose of Information

One of the questions that I am almost always asked when I appear on podcasts or Google+ Hangouts is something along the lines of, "how do you keep keep up with everything?" You might think that I spend eight hours a day just reading Twitter, Google+, emails, and blog posts. I don't do that. In fact, only a small part of my day is spent on keeping up with the latest news. Over the years I've developed a simple system that allows me to efficiently keep up with new information.

Twitter: I utilize Twitter lists to keep up with new things. I have lists organized according to jobs (a list of teachers, a list of administrators, a list of tech coordinators) and location. The location factor is one that I only started to use this fall. I use the location-based lists to see what teachers are talking about in different parts of the country and the world.

I check in on Twitter a few times a day, but I don't have it installed on my phone. Scrolling through my lists and replying to @ Tweets a few times a day gives me plenty of time to keep up without becoming an all-consuming distraction from the rest of my work. If you check your Twitter lists during the commercial breaks of your favorite TV shows and once during lunch, you're spending enough time on Twitter. Add-in a following a Twitter chat once a week and you definitely have Twitter covered.

Feedly: I subscribe to roughly 300 blogs and websites. For years I used Google Reader to keep up with them. When Google shuttered Reader, I switched to Feedly and have now used it for the last two years. Feedly has two big appeals to me. First, the visual layout of vertical tiles on my tablet’s screen and vertically scrolling rows on my laptop’s screen just fit with how I process information. Second, from Feedly I can quickly share to Evernote for bookmarking and to Google+, Twitter, and a myriad of other social networks. (I should note that Feedly seems to act a little differently on my iPad. For that reason I tend to use my Android phone, Nexus 7 tablet, or my laptop when catching up on feeds).

I check Feedly in the morning before I do anything else online. I check it again around lunch time. I check it a third time in the evening while watching television. Occasionally, I will scroll through some feeds while in bed if I am having trouble falling asleep.

In the videos below I demonstrate how to get started with Feedly and how to use it in conjunction with Evernote.