Reorganising My RSS Feeds

I’ve just changed the way I organise my RSS feeds in Google Reader – if you’re having as much trouble as me keeping up with all the great feeds there are to read, this simple way of looking at them might just help you. You might not read any more, but you can at least know you’re reading the right things…


I’ve only actually caught up with reading all of my RSS feeds a couple of times in the last few months. I’m always behind, and even if I could take the time to catch up, I’m not entirely convinced it would be worth it.

I do my reading in Google Reader, and had my feeds organised into folders (or ‘tags’ in Googlespeak), sorted by their category. I had a folder for stuff relating to music, one relating to photography, one for all of PigPog’s feeds, one for comics, one for photo feeds, and so on.

This wasn’t working.

After a bit of thought, I decided to try completely changing the way they are organised. I created a set of numbered tags/folders, depending if I really need to see the stuff in it, or if it could be missed if I was short on time. I split the ‘must read’ feeds depending on how soon I really needed to see them. I was left with a few folders…

  • 1-First – the things I really need to see first. If there’s anything in one of these, I need to know about it quickly. PigPog’s feeds go in here, so I get to see newly posted stuff quickly – saves the embarrassment of failing to see something Sam posted hours ago, and means I get to see the mistakes reasonably soon in my own posts. Some typos are always invisible until I see them in the feed.
  • 2-Soon – stuff I need to read, and need to read pretty soon after it appears. This includes some of the more relevant search feeds, and some friends’ feeds.
  • 3-Fun – ahead of the other ‘must-read’ items, the things that I don’t have to read, I want to read. Comics, lolcats, etc. It may seem sill to have this folder a step above the ‘must-read’ folder, but I want my reading to be fun as well as informative.
  • 4-Must – stuff I really have to read. I really can’t miss anything posted in these feeds. It includes some friends and search feeds, but is mainly just blogs that often enough have great content that I wouldn’t want to miss.
  • 5-Should – this is stuff that I really do want to see, but it won’t actually matter if I don’t. Lifehacker is great, and I love reading it, but it’s difficult to keep up, and it won’t hurt if I miss a few items sometimes. I’ll try not to, but by deciding up front that I won’t get too hung up about it, I’m letting myself skip if I get behind again. Who am I kidding, I am behind again. Sorry, Gina.
  • 6-Dip – anything that can just be dipped into when I have time. From a practical point of view, I may rarely get to feeds in here, because I have enough to read in the other feeds. This way, though, they’re still there if I want them, and if I happen to catch up enough to read some of them.

There are two extra folders after these…

  • 7-Bin – Stuff I either don’t actually read, or I’m coming to terms with the fact that I’m never really going to get to them. It’s a halfway house to actually deleting them, just like a computer’s Recycle Bin or Trash folder. I don’t lose my unread counts, though, if I change my mind later.
  • 8-Dead – contains a bunch of feeds that haven’t updated for so long that I doubt their owners are coming back. They’re still here because I do want to know if they become active again. They’re not in the other folders because it didn’t seem worth making a decision about which folder they should go in.

I think I should also add something back that I did have before – an ‘Incoming‘ folder. New feeds that I subscribe to could go in here whilst I decide how important they are.

So far, this all seems to be working out well. I’m still way behind, but at least I can tell at a glance that I’m up to date on the important things.