Sometimes it is difficult for one to live in the modern world with the myriad distractions and the constant barrage of information from every electronic device and online service. While some of this information is clearly superfluous to our occupations and the well-greased machine of our life, other nuggets of thought-provoking brain candy can enrich even the most mundane knowledge worker’s daily routine.
I do not mean to sound like a technological apologist, but the fact remains that in order to get through my daily work, I need to rely not only on my own bag of tricks, but also the Pandora’s box of the World Wide Web.
So, how am I dealing with this constant flood of nigh-impossible-to-organize knowledge distractions? Not very well up to this point, but the tide has been changing for the better in the recent weeks.
The “Remember Everything” Conundrum
It is no secret that I am an avid user of the Evernote online service. Evernote proposes that your biological brain cannot–and should not–have to bear the burden of remembering every little thing that you need in this modern world.
This is a great resource for gathering inspiring artistic works, remembering the gigantic number of online subscription usernames and passwords, and many, many other little tidbits of information. But at some point, the vast amount of information that one can keep in a trusted system such as this can get to be overwhelming.
I subscribe to (probably too) many RSS feeds for various websites that I would otherwise spend >75% of my day visiting using Google Reader. Over the past few months of using Evernote, I have saved every article that I wish to read later in a “To Read” notebook. Just after the new year, I realized that I am far from ever being able to read everything if I simply keep it in Evernote.
The Evernote Android application still lacks offline accessibility of notes, so in order to read any of these “To Read” articles on the go, I need to get those articles into another system. This can be quite the hassle while standing in line at the pharmacy or hitting the water closet for a quick sabbatical.
Enter Read it Later
Read it Later is an online service which stores the articles and text that you wish to read in a simplified interface.
Articles are saved text-only, and formatted for easy reading on any type of device you may have at your disposal.
With Add-ons available for all the major browser platforms, as well as simple bookmarklets, Read it Later lets you add a page to your list with just a simple click. Once you have read an article, it is tagged as “Read”, but is still available for a return read.
Coupling the Read it Later service with the Paperdroid Pro Android Application, I am able to quickly archive an article for later reading on my HTC Hero. The Paperdroid Pro app is extremely helpful, and provides an engaging experience while I wait for those little things in life.
The biggest problem with implementing a system like this is there is a period where the transition must occur. Before getting started with Read it Later, I had over 600 “To Read” notes in Evernote. This is far too much for one man to read anytime during his lifetime, or at least it seems that way at first glance.
But even though this is turning into a large time investment, the benefits of going through the transition are apparent. Who knows what kinds of articles over the past year I have marked as “To Read” which require a very short period of action, or even articles which simply need to be added to my research archive? Going from Evernote to Read it Later has provided me the opportunity to sift through this massive library of text, and really find those articles which will actively benefit me in some way.
I am still only about half way through my “To Read” notebook, but I am beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel. And to top things off, I have actually been able to consume multiple articles that have been just gathering digital dust over the past year.
I highly recommend the Read it Later service to anyone who is dealing with a similar issue of information overload. Paperdroid Pro is well worth the €2.49, and I cannot recommend the purchase of this app for anyone who owns an Android device and uses Read it Later.
Do you have a vast amount of information coming across your plate on a daily basis? If so, what system do you have in place which helps you organize and sift through to find the truly worthwhile text? Leave a comment here, and share your system with the world.