Web Worker Daily posted a guide on How to Get Through a Paper and Digital Backlog.
Paper stands as the root of all evil and clutter for me, so I avoid it at all costs. However, Web Worker Daily’s guide can also be applied to something near and dear to most of our hearts, RSS Feeds.
Stage 1 – Triage
During Stage 1, your job is Triage. Define what you could not stand to miss. The best way for me to evaluate this step would be to imagine myself pressing the “Mark All As Read” button. After hypothetically doing so, what would hurt me the most that I might have missed. (Quick answer, Lifehacker.com!)
Now, go to the specific feeds you must read. Take your time and enjoy reading through these special items. After this, it’s time to tackle the rest.
Note: What if they are all special to me? Then just skip to Step 2.
Stage 2 – Make Procrastination Productive
Recently I had to wade through 500 starred items in my Google Reader. I was dreading it. Using advice from a recent blog post I read which talked about making your procrastination productive I did my sorting, unstarring, and tagging when I did not want to be working on something else.
When I got bored working on my starred items list, I just stopped. Then when I wanted to procrastinate on my main tasks again, I started de-starring and tagging. I went from 500 starred items to less than 200 and tagged every single one in less than and hour painlessly!
You’ve read your most important feeds.
You’re ready to start wading into the seemingly endless pool.
It’s not as bad as you think, this will be over in no time!
Note: You might consider weeding out what is not the most important to you and limit your RSS feeds. Previously I had over 110 feeds and I’m “down” to 50, and working to eliminate more…
Stage 3 – Work Through the Rest
You can do this and it won’t take that long. Don’t give in and press “Mark All as Read.”
In your feed reader (Google Reader for me) view all your unread feed items. Be like Robert Scoble and just go item by item. Read fast by looking at only the third word in the title (learned from Timothy Ferris’ book) and don’t pause unless it interests you.
When you get bored, or your eyes tired, just stop. Only work on it when you want to, or when you are trying to avoid something else.
I put off tagging and clearing out my starred items list for months only to find that I finished it off in less than an hour.
You’ll feel better once your list is cleaned out.
Now, get ditch some of those feeds and enjoy your completed task!