Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Don't Read This Blog!

I mean it. Just unsubscribe.

You'll be happier, more productive, and have more free time.

I've realized that like most Americans, I have become obese...with information. My head is full of facts that I thought might be relevant some day. Except that day never comes. And if it did come, I would have forgotten what I was supposed to remember anyway.

I was following over 300 blogs. I was a feed fattie. I spent around 3 hours a day reading blog feeds in my trusty Google Reader. 3 hours! That's moronic. A huge waste of a human life. Sorry Scobleizer, but it's true.

But like any addict, I thought I needed that information. When I first moved out to San Francisco, I was desperate to gain as much knowledge as possible about the tech industry. At meetings, I wanted to have a deeper grasp of the industry then anyone in the room. And to be honest that kind of knowledge does impress people which makes it harder to let go of.

Ultimately though, impressing people with my knowledge is not worth 21 hours a week of my time. Now, I'll have to rely on jokes about relationships, airplane food and the wacky differences between how white and black people drive.

I'm still subscribed to 77 blog feeds. Mostly friends and competitors. And Techcrunch. And Marc Andreessen, because he's still new to the blogging thing and hasn't run out of interesting things to say, yet.

My biggest regret was dropping Lifehacker, I think Gina Trapani is a fantastic blogger. But honestly, is there anything more unproductive than reading a daily blog about improving your productivity?

I thank three people for this revelation:
Tim Ferris - author of the 4 Hour Work Week. Applying Pareto's 80/20 rule to your life is wise indeed.
Aaron Schwartz - who despite cofounding Reddit, a news aggregator site, believes that reading the news is a waste of time.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb - author of the Black Swan (best book I've read this year) who has been trading stock options and I'm certain other exotic instruments successfully without glancing at a newspaper in 20+ years.


Here's my advice if you can't kick the addiction:

1. Use another blog as a filter. For tech related crap, Scobleizer catches anything of interest anyway - let him do the world. If you're into virtual worlds, MMOs, and games in general, just read Raph Koster, he posts everything of interest. Believe me, I followed the virtual world space extremely closely for the last six months and Raph never missed anything important and fairly promptly as well.

2. Choose only one tech industry source. They all cover the same stuff and usually the same way. Pick one. I chose Techcrunch. Eventually, I'll be brave enough to drop it.

3. Read friend's blogs. They don't post frequently enough for it to be a timesink.

4. Only check you feed reader once a day, or even better once a week. I'll give Tim Ferris credit for that advice. He calls it batching. The idea is that you'll waste less time doing a task in one solid block of time, then constantly changing tasks. Believe em, there isn't anything happening in the blogosphere that so urgent that you can't miss a day, or a week, or a month.

5. If you use Google Reader, use Google Trends to see what you're REALLY reading and drop the feeds you only partially read.

Well dear reader, it was nice knowing you. I'll still be here writing. For your sake, I hope you stop reading.