Inbox: Zero. Google Reader: not so much

July 2009

I’m a big advocate of the “Inbox Zero” philosophy of email management. I don’t have the merit badge, and I don’t think it needs to be quite so extensive, but I still like to keep things pristine.

My RSS reader is another story; I rarely clear it out entirely. When I go through the items (once per day), I’ll mark a few choice ones as unread for further perusal and keep plugging through the chaff. Once I start to hit things that I’ve seen before, it means I’ve finished the boring part.

There’s usually somewhere between 10 and 25 items, spread over a week or so, that remain marked as unread. These savory morsels get read, re-read, shared, emailed, or (theoretically) turned into fodder for blog posts. The best ones are approved by the Senate and become a law! – er, get starred and saved for all time.

I prefer this system over the inbox zero method because it allows the ideas in the posts to seep a little deeper into the gray matter. It’s a fundamentally different mindset that you’re in; often if someone emails me an article I’ll use this handy bookmarklet to get it into Reader and then move it to a separate folder.

I still haven’t decided what to do with the new features the Reader team keeps rolling out, though.