Information overload; rethinking my RSS feeds

Like most information junkies, I’ve regularly added feeds to my Google Reader simply because the author may have had one, or two, interesting posts that managed to catch my eye. Adding a couple every month, while not removing any, has led to total information overload. At last count, I had nearly 300 feeds plugged into my Google Reader. Most of those feeds aren’t very active, but the volume of information that arrived throughout the day eventually got to be so much that I had to take the decision to assess the real value of each feed. As a result, I’ve begun to pare down my feeds by using certain rules. One rule that has worked effectively for me is consolidating to one ‘master’ feed on certain topics. A good example is the gadget space. Engadget is the undisputed king. While the other gadget sites do cover the space slightly differently, I couldn’t see the reason to be plugged into Gizmodo, CrunchGear, and the others in this area. On an average day Engadget floods my reader with posts about most everything I would want to know about. On good days Peter, Ryan and Co. give us the best coverage of events on the web. That’s good enough for my gadget fix. So, I’ve dropped the other gadget sites, and reduced my gadget load substantially. I have kept extraneous gadget sites like Gear Diary and The Gadgeteer because they cover the space from a totally different perspective.

Another rule that I’ve adopted is that, although I’m a quick subscriber to a blog, I will quickly unsubscribe if the topics venture way off base. The exception to this rule are those blogs that are truly personal. Many of those personal blogs are the most fascinating ones in the blogosphere. And, since my own blog tends to meander a bit, I figured I should allow other personal bloggers the same latitude that I give myself.

I’ve also dropped almost all of my Getting Things Done (GTD) based subscriptions. Reading about the latest quasi-GTD tool, or some oddball hacked version of GTD has gotten to be really boring. Now true lifehack sites, like Merlin Mann‘s 43Folders and Lifehack are keepers. There is always a nugget of wisdom or two on these feeds.

The Merlin Show: A must see

Merlin Mann, a truly unique and engaging character (electronic hobo to some) launched a new video-cast last month that’s simply called The Merlin Show.  It’s already become a must stop for me.  Merlin’s most famous for running the wildly popular 43folders website – the name is based on David Allen‘s Getting Things Done productivity methodology.  With The Merlin Show, he extends the conversation beyond simple tools, gadgetry and hipsterness (although his obsession with the Mac is still prevalent) to deeper conversations with some of the more interesting people you’ll find in the bay area.  Although there have only been a handful shows so far, the show’s feed is high on my priority list to watch when I’m in between my daily next actions.  Even if you’re not productivity obsessed like some of us, I’d recommend stopping by the site to catch an episode or two Merlin’s new adventure.