The 80/20 Revolution

The most common theme on Codesnipers lately has been information overload, which is just a small part of the wider topics of productivity and burnout. Bob’s been talking about the 80/20 principle in many different ways, but here he applied it to his RSS feeds list.

I’ve been trying something similar over the last couple of weeks, so I thought I’d share. At first it was difficult, because, believe it or not, I didn’t have a feeds list.

I’d avoided RSS altogether for a long time, mostly by actually visiting (I imagine one day I’ll tell my kids that that’s what we used to do in the good old days) blogs and websites that I wanted to follow. I was doing okay, I felt like I was keeping up, and the social bookmarking sites were always there to broaden my vision. If you ever wondered who was registering those last few page views on your blog, it was probably me. The reason I clung to this method and rejected RSS for so long was mostly because it was self regulating. The 80/20 principle was naturally enforced... if one site started to suck, another stepped up, or the daily list got shorter. I knew that once I added a feed to a reader, I would be stuck with it... I’m just too lazy to maintain something like that.

But, things had been changing lately. There were more and more sites I wanted to follow, and it was taking me longer to hop around all the best ones. The final breaking point came from the social bookmarking sites. One day, on my first browse for a couple of days, I looked through a list of about 400 new popular links, but only clicked on 3. Two of those went to a site I would have visited anyway, and by the time I’d finished with the list, I didn’t have the time or energy to read anything.

It didn’t used to be like that. I’m sure I used to have time to skim the lists of new links, check out and read the good ones, and then get on with my day. I realised it was time I got my own list of feeds and just started tracking all my favourite sites myself.

One day I got myself a NewsGator account, added some feeds, and haven’t looked back. The really good stuff that I follow everyday went into the Core (or the 20%) folder and everything else went into the Peripheral (the 80%) folder. I tend to check the Core folder a few times a day, skimming over the rest every now and again when I have some spare time.

It feels good so far. When I add in the fact that I moved back home, and that I started taking a day off each week, I can see that I’ve made some really positive changes. I’m already seeing the benefits, I’m getting more work done, feeling much fresher, and spending more time reading rather than clicking around.

Of course, any productivity gains will be blown apart on Friday with the start of the World Cup, but at least I’m better prepared to adapt and react. The worst week in my time-zone has 2pm kick offs... I can fit in a full days work by 2pm as long as I get up by 6, no? Sixty-four games in 30 days, what are they trying to do to me....

Funny thing about RSS

Although I support, have used, and have implemented RSS on a countless number of sites... I've only recently started using a feed reader myself.

Thought I was the only one

I've been assuming that most tech people were already neck-deep in RSS feeds... I guess we've all been too busy making RSS feeds available and telling people what they are to bother using them ourselves!

It's worse than that

I've been working with SMS-enabled applications for a major US-provider now for about 6 months. During this time, I've used it personally maybe a dozen times.

But if you want to know how the system works... ;)

Nice Subject

When I first saw your subject line I thought "one of those damn spammers made it through!"...

Anyway, I've found this whole space pretty fascinating and the sheer number of messages going back and forth is stunning.