On the internet, I always had this struggle to find and read content daily. Read meaning not reading a book, but interesting content in the form of news articles, blogs, podcast or video content etc. Over the last decade, I tried a lot of different options but nothing seemed to work, partly because I did not have a lot of motivation to read, but the ‘find interesting content and form reading routine’ workflow too was not ideal. I come across interesting articles in the timeline of various social media. I bookmark or like them but then forget about it. Other times, I use Google Keep to bookmark and read later. But then, I forget about it totally.
What I realized is that, even though there was interesting content on the web, somehow I always had a challenge with consuming content on a daily basis. Either there is so much content that I skip reading them or I have a lot of time, but nothing interesting to read.
Over the last one year, I kind of getting a hang on finding and refining on a reading routine. There are 2 parts to it. Finding interesting content on a regular basis without too much effort and other is to build a reading routine.
Finding Interesting Content to Read
Twitter is my only and ideal gateway to reading anything and everything. It is a clubhouse of all cool interesting people sharing information that are worthy of reading or following it through. Twitter usually leads to some interesting blog, which has a newsletter or podcast to which I subscribe.
These days I subscribe to a lot of newsletters that get delivered to me daily. With Twitter, I follow way too many people that some times it becomes overwhelming. I started with signing up for Medium and followed a dozen of interesting topics in the site. Medium then delivers personalized curated content based on my interest areas and this is mostly spot-on. I get a daily auto-generated newsletter delivered to me at 8 am and I always find one or two interesting articles. But Medium subscription is too costly for my budget and hence I read till the free limit and then use InCognito to keep reading other articles :) I wish for the subscription cost to be slightly lower for India users atleast.
These days, I have also subscribed to a lot of independent newsletters by developers and publications, substack ( relatively new ) that deliver content to my mailbox on a daily / weekly basis.
I also subscribed to Hacker News Newsletter and Pocket that provides a list of trending articles for the day/ week delivered to mailbox. Interesting ways to consume content.
As my Gmail was messed up with too much spam and transactional content, all these newsletters get buried deep within the mailbox. So I use a different email to subscribe to the newsletter. It helps to easily get with reading from the UnRead folder that has always 5-6 unread mails and it is easier to read them and bring it to zero. I un-subscribed from Gmail and slowly moved to a different email id for this purpose.
I have been ON and OFF with the podcasting world in the last 5- 10 years, first with Anchor FM, then with The American Life show. I did not find it very compelling before. But now listening to the podcast for last one+ year. Of all the content consumption habits, listening to the podcast is one habit that I never miss out, thanks to other morning routine of Daily Walking. There is nothing you can do while walking and the combination of podcasts makes the habit of walking less strenuous. There are so many interesting tech and other interesting podcasts that I listen to daily. I primarily use Google Podcasts app for this purpose, even though the app is not that great. It has been better in the last few months, but still the experience can be so much better.
Youtube is one of the greatest Learning Platform available out there for the learning. I follow two kinds of content on youtube.
Individual Developers/ Content Creators who publish awesome content, tutorials and other interesting content on the web. These days live videos are becoming popular where the live streams are scheduled ahead of time and there is a comments section to make the discussion real-time and interactive.
Videos of companies like AWS, GCP, Chrome, other open-source projects, tips and tricks and content from other popular publications.
The way how I consume these content is that, at the end of the day while un-winding, I use my TV and launch Youtube app and have a look at the subscriptions and if there are any interesting videos, I watch it right away. But if I find something interesting, but do not have the time or energy to watch it, I will add to ‘Watch it Later’. Then I revisit the ‘Watch Later’ list over the weekend. There are times that I never watch the videos and it keeps sitting in in Watch Later and then remove it without watching itself.
Most recently, in the last one month, I have started to listen to the summary of non-fiction books through Blinkist. Every now and then, someone on Twitter or any other medium recommend a certain non-fiction book. I search for the book in the app and bookmark them. I then read or listen to it later.
Also, the daily or weekly recommendation in Blinkist helps to find new interesting books to read or listen.
Notion Lists as Read Later/ Archival Tools
I use Notion and created a few lists for bookmarking. I use these lists to tag any content that I read already, but need to bookmark for later reference. Some times, I add an article under certain lists for reading it later. I have installed the Notion plugin in the browser and a single click to tag the article under certain lists is immensely useful.
Building a Daily Routine to Read
Having a daily routine is a very critical aspect of reading. Even though I have a pre-defined routine of reading every day in the morning and evening, many times I miss this due to other priorities or slacking off. One thing I do is to use the weekend to catch up on reading. As I have combined my habit of listening to a podcast during my working walking routine and since I rarely miss my walking routine, the podcast habit kind of become an everyday affair.
And since I have to start walking, I wake up one hour before to get ready. I have made it a habit not to pick the smartphone the first thing in the morning and this saves a lot of time. Between the time I wake up, have tea and prepare for walking, I have 20 to 40 minutes in which I open the subscribed newsletters for the day in my mailbox and start reading. Unless I wake up late, this habit is a knock-off effect from the morning walking routine. One habit and routine feeding to few more is a good thing. But I also have a routine planned between 7 to 8 pm, but I hardly manage to follow because of work or something else coming up down the day. So having minimal distractions, the same kind of setting, environment, routine and timing helps to build the habit of reading.
Habits feeding each other
Without much thought, I started with the habit of Weekly Round-Up blog post where I do a small write up of interesting articles that I have come across and read in the week. Little did I know that this new little habit would force me to read more. I did regular posts for two weeks and by the end of 3 rd week, I found very few articles to share, essentially meaning that I have been slacking on my reading for some reason. So every day reading or the lack of it will mean a challenge to my Weekly Round-Up blogging habit. Every habit feeds in to others. So what started as a Weekly Round-Up blogging activity is now motivating me to read more so that I have some content to blog.
I also find that spending less time on smartphone/tv will give you a lot of free time to build and enjoy the habit of reading regularly. It is very interesting that Twitter will take me to a website,the website to a newsletter, which will lead me to a podcast, which makes me look at a Youtube video and then subscribing and finally coming back to Twitter. Each medium lead me to another one and the loop is now fully established for surfacing interesting content to consume on a daily basis.