Remember the Dick and Jane readers we cut our teeth on as kids?
As Kindergartners, we mastered the basic words of the English language through a series of single-line paragraphs and simple sentences. Mind-numbing sentences, yes. But they served their purpose: generations of kids learned to read by deciphering the vowels and consonants that allowed Dick, Jane and their dog, Spot, to “run,” “go,” “jump,” and “play.”
Well, the “readers” of today are still spoon feeding content in simple lines, but the content is anything but bland.
I’m talking about Web-based tools like Google Reader, Yahoo Reader and others that organize and deliver all your favorite news, magazine and industry updates on one screen on your desktop. In the wee hours of every morning, I read, or at least browse, the sites of 20 to 25 newspapers, magazines and business-related organizations.
I was sometimes spending almost three hours digesting all this information while most Kansas Citians were still deep in REM phase. And, then, reader’s Nirvana: I checked out Google Reader and realized that I could have the latest updates from all those sites—and more—spoon fed to me all day long. All I had to do was subscribe (free) to the site’s RSS feed. In some cases, you can even designate specific industries or categories of information you’re interested in receiving, so you don’t get inundated with every update. One pane of the screen shows the live updates in a mixed, chronological feed – the Huffington Post on one line, BBS on another with the latest from Fast Company on the next. Or,if I want to see all the feeds by category, I can glance to another part of my screen where I have the feeds arranged by News, Small Business News, Health Care Reform, Kansas City, Legislation, etc. And, finally, if I just want to read the feeds from the Wall Street Journal, I can glance at yet a third pane and find all the information arranged by publication.
Now, to begin my day, I simply log in to my Google Reader and leave it active on my desktop all day. If I have a few minutes, I can glance at the updates. I don’t have to worry about whether I have my bookmarks on every device I might use – desktop, laptop, and iPhone. As long as the machine is Web-enabled, I can load up my Reader.
The funny thing about this? I knew Google Reader (and others like it) existed. I just didn’t take the time to check them out. As business owners, we’re always fretting about our lack of time. Sometimes the tools we need to manage our time better are right in front of us if we’d only spend a few minutes to understand how to use them. For those of you who need to read a lot for your business (or heck, maybe you just enjoy reading), investigate an online reader. It’s well worth the time investment. This modern-day style of reader definitely allows you to “run,” “hop,” and “play.”