11 August 2011

On a Quest to Simplify - Declutter Your RSS

I have recently caught myself thinking of simplifying my life. And by simplifying I don't mean well-known phrases like Buy Less! or Reduce Your Clothes! or Declutter! No, I mean, really simplify everything I do every day. Real steps. Because the mean tiny streak of doubt has been creeping through my thoughts for a while, implying that I spend too much time and I put too much effort with not enough results in return. This injustice got me thinking that there must be something I am not doing right. 

In this line of thinking I talked about deliberate singletasking last week and getting rid of the myth of saving time through multitasking. But finishing tasks one at a time was not enough to clear my overloaded brain although it was a positive step ahead.

Photo: kanelstrand

As it usually happens, when you pose a question you get the answer. Some days ago, I read how Leo Babauta drastically decreased the number of his RSS feeds and, what do you think? Of course, I decided to follow his advice because I quickly identified my 200 strong RSS feed army to be a major obstacle on my way to simple living. 

I must admit here, that I am guilty of gluttony. Ever since I set on the blogging journey I have been adding feed after feed to my Google Reader, often attracted by information that looked valuable at the time or to return the favor to other crafty bloggers who followed me. 

But can you imagine a day of mine? Going through 200 feeds takes up quite some time, especially if I want to comment under some posts or to concentrate on important information. With time, going through my Google Reader became a chore and I started procrastinating reading it. I even got to the point of organizing the vital blogs that inspired me in a separate folder, so that I didn't have to browse through all 200 to get to them.

I asked myself why did I have to keep all those feeds, some of which have not offered any insights or haven't helped me develop at least a bit. Do I really have the time for all this not necessarily useful information? Isn't my aim in life to try and use my time wisely and grow? And this is how my clean-up began.

Photo: kanelstrand

Day 1.
I cleaned up all subscriptions that weren't updated in the past month. To my dismay, I found some that weren't updated since April. That took me down to 169 feeds. Not bad for a beginning.

Day 2.
I identified the feeds that were duplicate. I receive updates on Twitter and Facebook for 11 of them, so I simply unsubscribed. (By the way, hang on Facebook, you are next!) The figures got down to 158.

Day 3.
I reserved the third day for the very hard task of purging feeds that did neither enrich nor inspire me, thus making me subconsciously avoid them. I got to 145.

Day 4.
On day 4 I said goodbye to uncommunicative bloggers, and more precisely the ones who never reply to comments left on their blogs, never visit mine, or whose posts are mainly showcases of collections. Although I respect their choices, I hardly find it inspiring enough or triggering empathy that might result in sharing my point of view. Unproductive on both ends. I reached 134.

Although my aim is to go below 60, shared between feeds from which to learn and blogs, part of my creative community, I will still give some of the feeds a chance and let them live for another week or even a month. If we get along well, we keep our friendship; if no one is benefiting, we part. That is as fair as it can get.

One thing I learned is that I need to be merciless to remain sane in the age of information. I much more value the friendship of a handful of sincere, like-minded people than the indifference of hundreds.

You might want to read the other posts in the series On a Quest to Simplify: