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How I finished my endless reading list

I keep all my reading list on Pocket, which is a great app for that. I got the Chrome extension, mobile app and even an integration on IFTTT that saves all my liked tweets to Pocket.

This is very convenient, but there is an obvious problem: I ended up with tons of things to read, which made me quite frustrated.

“I will never finish reading all of this.”

This obviously couldn’t go on forever. Maybe it was Fear of Missing Out or maybe recklessness.

I gave it some thought and came up with a solution, and then in around a month I basically got my “pocket inbox” to zero. How did I do that?

Definitely, not by reading all of them.

productivity

Understanding why

First thing I convinced myself of is that, if something is really important and I should know about it, then eventually I will know about it.

If some hot startup launched yesterday, or a new framework for my favorite programming language was just released, do I really have to know about it right now? Unless that’s my goal, then probably not.

Second thing was that, I wouldn’t be able to read about all sorts of subjects anyway. I had to focus.

Focus

This was the toughest step. There were so many interesting topics that would be cool to get to know more but I had to let go somehow.

To help with my focus, I adapted the 100-10-1 method for my use case.

I created few to-do lists divided by topic, like Books, Movies, “To Learn”, Side Projects and so on.

Most of my items in Pocket fell into topics for “To Learn” bucket. I went through all of the topics there, choose 3 that I was mostly interested in, and spent around 1 week reading more about each of them.

In the end, I had made my only choice(s). I had one topic to learn, one book to read, one side project and so on.

Delete it!

That was the easy part!

Now that I was sure of what I wanted to focus, I was free to ignore things I didn’t care about so much.

I went through Pocket, ordered things by the oldest and for each article, few things could happen to it:

  1. It was on the topic that I wanted to focus, so I kept it;
  2. It was not my focus, but it was on my to-do list, so I saved on the to-do list;
  3. I had no idea why I saved it, so I deleted it;

Iterate

At some point, when I was reaching nearly “inbox zero”, I went back to my list to re-prioritize it. At least for me, it’s fascinating how the priority changes as the time passes.

For example, I could be quite excited about Machine Learning three months ago, but not so much right now, so that’s going to get a lower priority.

Conclusion

That made me reach zero items on Pocket to read 😅!

I am still interested on learning various topics, reading tons of books and building many side projects. They’re still there in my list and will come back and re-prioritize them.

How about you? Do you also have a long reading list? Let me know in the comments!

Have a nice week!


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