This guest post is by Timo Kiander of Productivesuperdad.com.
Let me ask you this: how many RSS subscriptions do you have?
20? 50? 100? 250?
I figured that the number you follow would be quite high. I used to follow almost 90 blogs through RSS.
However, there is one big pain that I experienced: although these blogs were very interesting and I read the blog posts, I was pretty much wasting my time.
Ultimately, I couldn’t find any justification for reading these particular blog posts, because the activity took away from my already limited time for building my blog (I have a day job, a family, and I’m an athlete). Because of this realization, I had to start really making the most of a blog post if I decided to read it.
You see, just reading a blog post is very inefficient. When you read a post, you are pretty much taking that time away from something else of value—like writing a guest post or engaging with your email subscribers.
What also tends to happen is that you keep doing this inefficient activity day in, day out: you spot an interesting blog post title through RSS, you read it, you leave a comment or share it, you pick another post on your RSS feed, and you follow the same pattern again.
Wouldn’t you be better off if those posts actually did something good for you, like improve your business or yourself, on a very concrete level?
Admit it: you are sleeping!
Now, I don’t know you personally, but if you follow the pattern I just described, then you are not awake—at least when it comes to reading blog posts. This happened to me too, before I decided to change my habits.
You see, you have become addicted to interesting content—and there’s nothing wrong with that when you first start.
However, this “sleeping” leads to bigger problems, like wasting time, overwhelming yourself unnecessarily, or procrastinating on important tasks.
When you subscribe to dozens or even hundreds or RSS feeds and start numbly consuming the content, you soon start to wonder where your time went, why you didn’t manage to work on that important project, or why the blog post you are reading seems to be more interesting than actually writing that killer blog post of your own.
Yet another bad habit to break
Most of us are doing the blog post reading ritual on auto-pilot; we just keep reading and consuming information out of habit. But do you see the piece that’s missing from this picture?
How many times did you just read something, think to yourself: “That was nice” and then move on to the next post? I don’t know about you, but this happened to me countless times. Eventually I became aware that this way of consuming information was just plain silly.
Now, not all blog posts request you to take action, nor do they inspire you to act. However, there are lots of posts which demand your execution.
The question is: are you willing to take action?
Move from passive observer to action-taker
Before putting you on the information diet, let’s clean your RSS reader first.
Unsubscribe from RSS feeds ruthlessly. You don’t read that many blogs after all, so don’t clutter your RSS reader with subscriptions that do not add any value to you.
Also, the next time you read a post, start taking notes; jot down some interesting ideas that the post sparked in you. In addition, take a note of all the action points that a post includes (or the additional ones you came up with as you were reading).
From now on, take action on posts; don’t just read them! You can also take action by creating a case study out of what the post is teaching you.
Passive reading is still okay, but only if you do it less than active reading.
Stop just reading those posts!
- Take a very critical look at your subscribed RSS feeds: Do you honestly think that you need to follow hundreds of blogs? Apply the80/20 rule: Out of those 100 subscriptions, leave only 20 that you currently check on a regular basis. If you have more than 100 blogs in your RSS reader, increase the ratio even more—to 75/15, 90/10, or to 95/5 if needed.
- Read the post and take some notes: Jot down interesting ideas that you get from the post (for example, topics for your own blog posts).
- Implement what has been taught: Now, there is one thing to be aware of: if you are reading a list post which says “101 ways to raise a chicken”, don’t be overwhelmed—there is no need to take action on those 101 items at once. You can try one or two methods at first and then decide if the rest of the tips are worth following. The most important thing is that you take action and implement the lessons—no matter if it is only on one or two items on that 101 item list.
- To get even more value from a post, create a case study out of it: This is actually part of the previous step (#3), but I wanted to list it separately. This is something that I originally learned from internet marketer Terry Dean. For instance, if a blogger is saying that using a particular method you can achieve certain results, actually prove it by creating a case study. Create a report on how that method actually helped you to achieve something. Even better, you can offer this case study as a guest post for the blogger on his or her blog.
- Change your passive/active ratio: Create a habit of taking action on most posts you read and spend less time on reading passively. For example, you could decide that for 70% of the posts you read on a weekly basis, you will take action on what’s being taught. The idea is to keep the amount of active days higher than the passive days. This ensures that you truly develop your skills and gain more experiences on the topic you have chosen.
Change the way you read
So there you have it—an actionable way to consume blog posts. It is very easy to fall into the passive mode and just consume posts without taking any action on them. Once you actually start to implement what has been taught, you will learn new ways of getting things done, and sometimes your business—or your life—could improve dramatically!
Over to you: do you take action on the posts you read? What type of action do you take? Please share your ideas and experiences on the comments.
Timo Kiander, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar.