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Feed Reader Overload: Mark All As Read

buried.jpgAs you know, I’ve been away for a while remodeling our home in preparation for our new baby and then welcoming our latest Little Miracle into the world. So I haven’t “officially” worked or blogged in weeks.

For a moment, imagine the mountain of voicemail, email and blog posts I came back too.

The first few days I was back in my office, I have to say, were overwhelming. It took me almost an entire day to just to listen too, make notes on and begin wading through all the voicemail.

And email…do I even need to go down that road? I hadn’t checked my email at all in three weeks, at one point. That stretch, alone, left me with 1,500 messages to sort through – not including spam. I started sweating as I watched the number of new messages keep climbing in my various inboxes and folders. Needless to say, I didn’t even try to get through them. All told, I had thousands of messages waiting for me when I returned. Not through them all yet.

Then, there’s the 190 or so feeds I regularly follow in my reader.

I’m usually quite judicious at going through my reader; looking for the most interesting and useful post titles. When open my reader daily, it takes me less than an half-hour to scan and partially read all the posts on 190 feeds. But that’s usually a few hundred.

What do you think happened when I didn’t check my reader in a month? Same as email…but worse. Thousands of posts sitting unread in my feed reader. I know some of them have to be great. I know that some of them have to be helpful. What’s more, I know reading some of them would help me as a blogger and a business owner.

But there’s just no way I have the time to wade through all those posts to find the jewels.

My option…just not read any of them. Let them all go. Mark them all as read. What I missed, I missed. Simple as that.

I does pain a bit. But I guess that’s just comes from being afraid I’ll miss out on something amazing. And, well, I haven’t really. Information that’s that good will be back around. And I’ve certainly not missed out on the important things…like family.

Anyhow, when you’ve gotten way behind, what have you done to catch up? Have you slogged the mountain of email and lived to tell about it? How?

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Comments

  1. Yikes. I thought I had a hard time keeping up with about 50 or so feeds, but 190, you’ve got to be kidding. That is insane.

  2. Advice Network says:

    I am impressed by your diligence. If I don’t work for the weekend, i toss all of my feed posts on Monday when I get back!

  3. Wise decision, Dawud. If you’re meant to see it, it will indeed come around again. And everyone knows you’ve been doing something a lot more important. :)

    Best wishes to you all. And thanks for sharing.

  4. Carma Dutra says:

    Dawud, Your post on this is so timely for me. In fact I am so overloaded and behind that I almost hit delete.

    Nevertheless, it was meant to be because it has an important message.

    In the past I have had a difficult time in “letting go”. I finally realized that I do NOT have to read and/or respond to everything that comes my way. Thanks for the reinforcement.

  5. Andy,
    Not kidding. Possibly insane. You should talk to those who know me. I do pare back from time to time.

    Advice Network,
    Interesting idea. The more interesting thing for me is that I haven’t been doing link posts.

    Jean,
    I think so too. The key now is to slowly get back into blogging…giving all of you the value you’re used to from my site.

  6. I had to laugh.

    http://www.communicatrix.com/2006/10/mark-all-read.html

    And I have no baby to blame it on.

  7. K-IntheHouse says:

    Dawud, congratulations are in order! I am sure you will bounce back to your normal rhythm soon.. thanks for the mention! :grin:

  8. Laser Hair Removal says:

    When ever I have had to go through a mountain of email, it is obviously not possible to cover this backlog in one day and I cannot afford to remove a week to finish the backlog of emails and pending work, because if I do that then my current work will suffer. So the best is to do the current work and finish the backlog in small installments everyday.

  9. Carma,
    You know, I realized I forgot to make one update to my post. You should mark post read, except mine.

    I know what you mean. I’m so much about relationships that sometimes I get overloaded by everything I try to do. It’s a great reminder for me to let go.

    Colleen,
    First, I love you.

    Second, you’re damn hilarious.

    Third, glad you got it.

  10. As an employee, I had no choice in the matter. Irrespective of the volume, on return from extended tours, these had to be attended to. As an employer, I could not afford not to. Now in genteel retirement, it does not pile up. So, what can I comment. Your decision, drastic as it may sound seems the only viable option available to you.

  11. Laser,
    That’s some of what I did. I also ordered my email first by sender and then by subject, scanning for anything that looked vital. And, of course, I filter my client emails into specific client folders, so sorting those were much easier.

    Home,
    At least with the feeds. Email, I’ve just slugged through everything I can find that looks vital. Everything else I’ve let go of with the idea that anything I didn’t respond to that was important would get another message.

  12. Yay!! I’m glad you’re back, Dawud! I can’t imagine what your reader must’ve looked like. I have enough dread opening mine (with only about 40 feeds) after a week of not reading. I feel bad about doing mark all as read, but it has to be done, otherwise I’d go crazy! For my most favoritest bloggers (like you!), I do quickly skim the unread ones for those really good gems.

  13. I don’t have nearly 190 RSS feeds in my reader and I know that I can get quickly buried if I don’t check it daily. Sometimes I wake up one day have 50+ new titles to read – I just skim the titles and pick a few that I think are interesting… which shows the importance of Post Titles in RSS Feeds.

    ‘Letting them all go’, as you say, is a great way to deal with it. If there is something really good on a good blog, you will make it back there eventually. If the news is big enough, you’ll see it other places.

  14. LaurenMarie,
    That’s how I feel…

    You don’t even want to know how much of a mess my inbox, voicemail box and reader was. I will definitely outsource communications when I’m gone in the future.

  15. Jeff Standen says:

    When you’re trying to catch up on an RSS backlog, it helps if you’ve organized your feeds into folders by topic. A lot of popular readers make this really easy (Google Reader, FeedDemon, etc).

    If I start to get behind, I’ll just ‘mark all’ for news sites and company blogs. It’s a lot easier to catch up on the personal/project blogs I’d hate to miss some news for.

  16. Gift Ideas,
    You’re right – that’s exactly why post titles are so important. What resources have you used to help craft good titles?

    Jeff,
    That’s exactly what I do. I have a large number of folders in NetNewsWire and each has its own priority – from blogs I absolutely have to read to those who I like to keep a distant watch on. Great idea.

  17. Throw Pillows says:

    Wow, I am so impressed with your zen attitude — I don’t know if I could have just “let go” of all those emails and feeds! Of course, my method of just checking email while on vacation isn’t a great alternative. Though I don’t come home to an overflowing inbox, I also don’t ever really get true time off. Kudos to you!

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