How To Find Useful Content To Read On A Daily Basis
On the internet, I always had this struggle to find and read content daily. By reading I mean not reading a book, but getting to read interesting content. It could be 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. What I realized is that, my finding interesting content and reading routine was not ideal.
I come across an interesting article in the timeline of various social media. I generally bookmark or like the content to read it later because I do not have the time to read it. I sometimes use Google Keep to bookmark for reading later. But then, I forget about the bookmarks at all. I have this weird situation - either there is so much content that I skip reading them. And other times, I have time, but nothing interesting to read.
Over the last year, I kind of getting a hang of finding and refining my reading routine. There are 2 parts to it.
Find interesting content regularly without too much effort
Build a reading routine.
Finding Interesting Content to Read
Twitter is my only and ideal gateway to find and read 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. I end up subscribing to them.
These days I subscribe to a lot of newsletters that get delivered to me daily. With Twitter, I follow way too many people that sometimes it becomes overwhelming. I started with signing up for Medium and followed a dozen of interesting topics on the site.
Medium delivers personalized curated content based on my interest areas. Recommendations this is spot-on. I get a daily auto-generated newsletter delivered to me at 8 am. I always find one or two interesting articles.
Medium subscription is too costly for my budget. I read till the free limit, and then use InCognito to keep reading other articles. I wish for the subscription cost to be lower for users based out of India at least.
Update: I have subscribed to Medium now after reading free content for over a year.
I have also subscribed to a lot of independent newsletters. I subscribed to newsletters by developers and publications, substack. These deliver quality content to my mailbox on a daily/weekly basis.
I subscribed to Hacker News Newsletter and Pocket. These provide a list of trending articles for the day/ week delivered to the mailbox. Interesting ways to consume content.
Another problem that I encountered was that my Gmail was absolute garbage. I ended up with too much spam and transactional content. All these newsletters that I subscribed to, got buried deep within the mailbox. So I started to use a different email to subscribe to the newsletter. This helped to get with reading from the UnRead folder that has always 5-10 unread emails. It is always easier to read these and bring them to zero. I un-subscribed from Gmail and 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. I started with Anchor FM and then a few years later also listened to The American Life podcast. Yet, I did not find it very compelling. But I’m listening to the podcast for the last one+ year.
Of all the content consumption habits, listening to the podcast is one habit that I never miss out on. Thanks to other morning routine walking. There is not much that you can do while walking. Combining podcasts made the habit of walking less strenuous. There are so many interesting tech and other interesting podcasts that I listen to daily. I use the 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. Thanks to Covid and lockdown, my walking and podcast consumption has gone down.
Youtube is one of the greatest Learning Platform available out there for learning. I follow two kinds of content on youtube.
Individual Developers and Content Creators who publish awesome content, tutorials. I also see live video streams are becoming popular. There is also a comments section to make the discussion real-time and interactive.
Content from companies like AWS, GCP, Chrome etc who publish new content on a daily or weekly basis.
At the end of the day, while un-winding, I use my TV and launch the Youtube app and have a look at the subscriptions. If there are any interesting videos, I watch them right away. But if I find something interesting, but do not have the time or energy to watch it, I will add it to ‘Watch it Later’. Then I revisit the ‘Watch Later’ list over the weekend.
At times I end up never watching the videos that I bookmarked earlier. These videos keep sitting in the ‘Watch Later’ section. I finally remove the videos without even watching.
Recently I started listening to the summary of non-fiction books through Blinkist. 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. The daily/weekly recommendation on Blinkist helps me find interesting books.
Update: I no longer use Blinkist.
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. Sometimes, I add an article under certain lists for reading it later. I have installed the Notion plugin in my chrome browser. I find the single click feature to tag the article under certain lists very useful.
Update: I no longer use Notion
Building a Daily Routine to Read
Having a daily routine is a very critical aspect of reading. I have a routine of reading every morning and evening. Yet many times I miss this due to other priorities. 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 walking routine, the podcast has become a habit now.
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. 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 a few more is a good thing.
I also have a routine planned between 7 to 8 pm, but I hardly manage to follow through. This is because of work or something else coming up down the day. Minimal distractions, same environment and routine help to build the habit of reading.
Habits feeding each other
I started a weekly roundup blog of interesting articles that I came across during the week. Little did I know that this new habit would force me to read more. I did regular posts for two weeks and by the end of 3rd week, I found very few articles to share. I have been slacking on my reading for some reason. So everyday reading or the lack of it will mean a challenge to my Weekly Round-Up blogging habit. Every habit feeds into others. What started as a Weekly Round-Up blogging activity now motivates me to read more so I have some content to blog.
I also find that spending less time on smartphone/tv gives me a lot of free time to build and enjoy the habit of reading. Interestingly, Twitter takes me to a website, the website leads me to a newsletter and the newsletter takes me to a podcast. The podcast then makes me look at a Youtube video to which I subscribe and finally come back to Twitter. One medium leads me to another and since then I discover interesting content to consume daily.