How do I scout and cure all my reading material?

Technology and innovation scouting is a vast subject. We are all invaded by thousands of blogs, feeds, twitter links, vimeo videos, ted talks, and our time is limited, and getting narrower everyday (thank you social media devils =) ).  And we all try to read the maximum, fearing to miss something. And we spend giga amounts of time on it.

Few months ago, I decided to cure some of the 100s of articles I was reading per week, and share them to my colleagues. When you start doing this, your read queue increases by at least 30%.  Because you want to be sure you give your colleagues the very best of the week. 

It happened that the most diffcult part was not to write the “newsletter”, but definitely to find, organise, structure and prioritize my reads… While still keeping the pleasure of reading for the knowledge sake!  So I crafted, iterated, and found a neat process which apply perfectly to my life rythm.

Here are the main tools I use :

  • Twitter (article source)
  • Hacker news (article source)
  • Reader and Prismatic (article source)
  • Instapaper (read later tool) 
  • Evernote (my memory. Simply put.)
  • Kindle (because I want to work for amazon)

Processus after 1 year:

Preparation :

I’m not following a lot of people on twitter, but for my non “social engineering” sources, I’m picky on certain subjects, and very broad on others. No serious rules here.  Still, I try to remove as much noise as possible. At least once a month a review ALL the people I’m following. For my reader, same same, but the subjects are more about culture and politics. Still, every month, remove streams session.

I link my instapaper account to my kindle account. I ask instapaper to send me on my kindle a new release every 5 articles not read.

But I don’t forget the important part : getting a constant flow of information, raw and brutal. Because even with 150 people on twitter, 30 streams on Reader + HackerNews, it’s still a f*%#!$^ chaos there.

All day long, I do this:

  1. If headline*feeder source seems interesting, I read the header
  2. If header interesting, and the article isn’t more than 40/50 lines, I read it directly.
  3. If subject is really interesting or gives me hints to do my job better then I store it in evernote, and adds it in the appropriate notebook (product management, design, technology) + tag of the week (23/2012)
  4. If article is more than 40/50 lines then I store it in
I then need space and time to cure, and read all of this:
  1. I give myself 5/10 minutes every evening/night to reread the headers on instapaper, and I start removing content I’m not satisfied anymore, or don’t want to read anymore.
  2. So every morning, I receive a kindle magazine with last day articles. I have a 30 minutes commute the evening. Usually does the trick. When not, I give myself the 10 minutes necessary to finish the article, or I keep it for the morning commute (even if I like reading books during this one). 
  3. For all the material I don’t manage to read this way (too long, tough week, whatever), I evernote it on a special notebook called LUC. Long story. 
  4. I keep this material for sunday, where I allow myself 2 hours to try to read all. If I can’t read all, then I make a choice : if it’s a book, should I read it (on an other article i’ll explain how I manage my book stack)? If not, then i throw it. I make it disappear from everywhere I stored it. I give myself no bloody chance to be able to change my opinion. 
  5. But I only give myself 2 hours. And I stick to it. Because it forces me to ask myself : is this harvard business blog article REALLY interesting for me? No? Ok, THROW. THIS. NOW.
This way :
  • I managed to find a way to overcome my fear of missing something by having an huge overview of a lot of things, but setting up a strategy that allows me to be picky.
  • I managed to stop spending astronomous amount of time, let’s say by 20 % during the day (not reading everything but keeping it for later), and an easy 30 % total (by reading only during commutes  and 2 hours sunday)
I regret I don’t have the real data about time spent before (I don’t even know if I could’ve mesure it). I can still mesure how I perform today, but I’m not sure the metric would be really relevant if it’s only about time spent. The important is the outcome. And I feel I still learn as much as before, by spending less time.
Please tell me here what is your own strategy?