Productivity Ninjafilter: how do you keep track of articles to read?
October 20, 2014 10:51 AM   Subscribe

How do you handle and keep track of articles to read later?

It's important in my work (and really, anyone's work) to make sure I'm reading and staying on top of industry trends. I'm curious how everyone does this without getting overwhelmed.

At work, I use a task management system that's mostly based on Michael Linenberger's Manage Your Now. I work in Social Media, so I'm seeing interesting articles everywhere (interesting blogs, trade press, mainstream media, etc.). Usually, when I come across an interesting link to read later, I put it in my tasklist with a Low Priority. My problem is that my tasklist starts getting pretty full very quickly. I've considered starting a list (in GTD style), but this could also get very overwhelming very quickly.

I'm not necessarily worried about finding time to read. I can usually either find time or schedule myself some "research time" so I don't get booked for a meeting. So I'm more interested to know how you handle this in terms of Tasks. How do you keep track of articles to read without finding yourself with a huge list of articles and feeling overwhelmed?
posted by zooropa to Work & Money (10 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Instapaper. I see an article that sounds interesting, I add it to Instapaper. Then I read it on my iPad, at my leisure. It took me a little while before I got Instapaper, but once I did, it was incredibly useful

Instapaper does allow you to set up folders to categorize things. I use that a little.

I don't try to integrate reading into any kind of larger task management system.
posted by adamrice at 10:55 AM on October 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Readability. Same as InstaPaper really, except for… something I can't remember. Either is good, though.
posted by gmb at 10:58 AM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


Similar to Instapaper and Readability is Pocket. Easy peasy.
posted by whoiam at 11:03 AM on October 20, 2014 [2 favorites]


I use Readability because it sends things properly formatted to my Kindle. I use the personal archive reading list at the webpage to prioritize, tag, and check off when done. You can export the data from there to a more robust task list, but I don't.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:06 AM on October 20, 2014


I also use Pocket for this purpose, and really enjoy it.
posted by hootenatty at 11:15 AM on October 20, 2014 [4 favorites]


Instapaper. I also keep a dedicated "To Read" folder in my briefcase, should I come across a physical copy of an article I want to read or review.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:18 AM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]


I happen to use Evernote for this, because it also handles some other things I need to keep centralized like notes, delivery tracking, etc. I really like the new Clearly extension, which strips out a lot of the extraneous stuff before saving. It guesses the wrong notebook to file articles in sometimes, but I can live with that.

Within any of these systems, I find that being able to tag at the moment of capture really helps. I use topics for my tags, but I could see where dates/time periods would work well too. When it's reading time, I stick to one tag per session, and clear/change the tag when I'm done reading the article. That keeps it all from becoming another version of The Overwhelming Pile.
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:44 PM on October 20, 2014


Seconding the read-it-later app suggestions, but I aIso initially triage my reading with an RSS reader (Feedly, in my case). Most afternoons I'll go through my feeds in title view and anything that looks interesting is starred. I revisit my starred items later that night or the next morning. The easy stuff, short articles or news, gets read then. Longform articles that require actual thought get sent to Instapaper.
posted by fifthpocket at 3:10 PM on October 20, 2014


zooropa: "It's important in my work (and really, anyone's work) to make sure I'm reading and staying on top of industry trends. I'm curious how everyone does this without getting overwhelmed.

At work, I use a task management system that's mostly based on Michael Linenberger's Manage Your Now. I work in Social Media, so I'm seeing interesting articles everywhere (interesting blogs, trade press, mainstream media, etc.). Usually, when I come across an interesting link to read later, I put it in my tasklist with a Low Priority. My problem is that my tasklist starts getting pretty full very quickly. I've considered starting a list (in GTD style), but this could also get very overwhelming very quickly.
"

You need filters, but your job may be a bit special. For most people, metafilter or HackerNews or a few subreddits will filter their professional interests nicely.

But if you manage a Social Media accounts, you cannot rely on the same sources everyone else does. It's old news. Instead of feeding at the Social Media trough, you need to be filling it, so to speak. You need to find data few others have seen yet. I find RSS does a decent job at this. Smart people tend to blog infrequently, so I have a folder of smart bloggers; none of whom blog all that regularly, or even make a strong effort to self promote, but together produce a decent flow of information.

Beyond that, you still have to apply some judgment of your own. I remember a research scientist from Merck saying his nightly reading was peer reviewed journals, and he had a system as follows:

1. Read the title, and if it's interesting, then
2. read the abstract, and if it's still interesting, then
3. read the full article (presumably using a method like Keshav)

You can follow a similiar method: read the title, and if it piques your interest, flag it for later reading.

How do you keep track of articles to read without finding yourself with a huge list of articles and feeling overwhelmed?

To be honest, I do have a backlog of journal papers to read, but I'm not a researcher so I don't sweat it too much. Another thing to consider is that information in your field may have a short shelf life. You may want to put an expiration date of say 30 days on items you put in the to-read shelf, to help keep the anxiety at bay.
posted by pwnguin at 12:54 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


Hi,

I like to read a variety of news and over the years the fastest way to get the latest info is instead of following every single blog about a topic (unless it's a niche topic) I follow the best site only. For example, many blogs have a weekly link listing of related articles where they write 1-3 sentence summaries for the post.

Yes, it's not for in-depth research but I get to follow 5+ blog updates in one post which saves me time from having to visit each separate site on my own. I use Pocket because it's freemium and Clearly to remove annoying text formatting. I will star/favorite interesting long articles and I have my feeds sorted in folders but not tagged.

I could spend a few hours tagging each article but not sure if I'd benefit it more because I always have it in folders. Although, if I do need to search for a exact title I just use the built-in search bar function.

Mefi/AskMefi is a great resource too and I will scan my favorites for news if I get bored and I want to review a idea.
posted by chrono_rabbit at 4:07 PM on October 23, 2014


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