I have my primary reading material inside Inoreader. I have a list of rss feeds in there which I scroll through and read every morning. I also save articles for later when browsing facebook and Linkedin. I have more content getting piled up than I read. (Haven't touched by facebook and linked in read later lists)
I had the same "problem": tons of articles that I thought I wanted to read, but seemingly never enough energy to read through them (yet at the same time, accumulating more). The way I approached it was to simply stop using reading lists: they are the quickest way of hoarding content to read, but that's about all the utility they have for me (your mileage may vary).
Most of the time now, when I come across a piece of content I want to consume, I'll typically either consume it immediately (if it's something like an article), or think about (or write down in a note) why I think it piqued my interest, and what I might get out of it. You'll also find that doing it this way will lead you to consuming more long-form content (books, papers) rather than Medium articles or blog posts. That's not to say the latter examples aren't useful, but they tend to be hyperbolic, opinionated, and not as thoughtful overall (I say, writing this post in an online forum...)
Understanding why I want to read something is key to eventually consuming that information: without it, I have no motivation to retain or apply it. If my underlying motivation for consuming some media is not specific enough, I will ignore it. For instance, if my only reason for reading an article about US foreign policy is to distract myself from working on something else, I'll avoid reading it. But if I'm looking for a specific piece of information or advice that I have a legitimate interest in, and am motivated to understand on a long timescale, I'll read it and take notes on it.
Finally, note taking and summarizing the content you consume in your own words is vital to understanding and retaining it. Looking for apps and methods to shortcut this understanding is in complete opposition to how the process of learning actually works. I highly recommend looking into your note-taking and learning practice and trying to write a note about a book or article that you have read recently. For me, doing this was a big eye-opener into just how lossy the act of "reading" without note-taking tends to be. A great resource on this is Andy Matuschak's "Evergreen Notes" piece: https://notes.andymatuschak.org/About_these_notes?stackedNotes=z3SjnvsB5aR2ddsycyXofbYR7fCxo7RmKW2be&stackedNotes=z8V2q398qu89vdJ73N2BEYCgevMqux3yxQUAC
I save all reference materials into Zotero (this includes blog articles) — I've become a lot more careful with what I save, as I don't want to back things up too much.
If I am reading a book, I will take active notes while reading on index cards. On a (mostly) nightly basis, I will transfer the index notes into a note in RoamResearch. Once I am completely done with the book I will open that note and begin to Progressively Summarize it. I will make a pass and bold important ideas. Then, I will make a final pass and highlight key points.
I will then open another new note in RoamResearch and synthesize the key ideas and takeaways.
Then, to make new connections, I will check other summaries of books or articles I have read using RoamResearch's soft/hard link functions. Doing so, I am able to see where different materials had ideas that overlapped. I will then highlight those connections and bookmark them.
Regarding Prioritizing Reading Material:
- I used to make sure I finished a book I started, I don't do this anymore on purpose. I find it best to go with your interests and find a book you can finish.
- I only follow a hand full of RSS feeds intimately now. I found that having 100+ voices was too much, a dozen or so work a lot better IMO — keeps you focused on your primary goals.
- I have a table to track the progress of my book reading (reading, stopped, summarizing, finished)
- I have a monthly routine with a checklist to purge articles and useless notes I have written — this process takes a bit of time and I typically save an entire day for this — I think this is a very important part of my process, else it all clogs up and I feel cluttered.
My reading workflow tends to be:
The only ways I prioritize is that I only save links that I think are interesting and skim headlines for most stuff before saving. Then when I go to read Instapaper, I'll just archive stuff that doesn't still catch my interest.
Discover most of my content from links friends/coworkers send me, slack groups, HN, and occasionally Twitter. I love newsletters that curate content centered around a specific topic (more on this later).
I'm trying to follow an "if I can read it in 5-minutes, I'll just read it now" rule. I find that for most content that I save, I end up never going back. So if I can read it now, I'll just do it. If not, I'll keep the tab open.
I tend to dislike machine curated content. For topics of interest, I usually find one or two people that are very knowledgable in that space and subscribe to their newsletter or Twitter. (Examples of this: Ian Kar at FintechToday or Web Smith at 2PM). Most of their content is actually curated news with their take on it which I find much higher quality than some algorithm trying to figure out what I want to consume.
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That’s a great workflow, thank you for sharing. Taking time to think about why I’m adding something to a reading list would likely keep me from saving at least half of the stuff I save.
The other benefit of reading apps like Instapaper is their nicer, simplified article formatting which makes it nicer to read without distraction. Though you can get that with the Reading Mode in Safari and Firefox, or with add-ones, without saving stuff to a reading list.
One other good thing of reading lists to me is that time makes you realize what you really do and don’t want to read. When I come back to my Instapaper queue or Kindle wish list days later, I often archive/remove stuff that no longer really want to read.
For note taking, do you do that in addition to highlighting, or do you have a system to link your notes back to what you read easily?
I'm a compulsive highlighter (probably a holdover from my note-hoarding days but I digress). I try to highlight as I read, and then when I go to write summaries, I'll look at the highlights and try to distill them in my own words. The biggest utility in highlighting for me is they act as signposts for statements that struck me as insightful when I read them the first time. If they still give me that same feeling when I read them a second time, that's my litmus test for wanting to write about them.
Ah that’s perfect; I do something similar with Kindle books, though don’t have a great workflow for print books as I hate messing up the pages.