A few months ago I glanced at my Google Reader Trends page:
From your 188 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 10,075 items...
Seeing a five-digit number there frightened me a bit, especially because I am not Robert Scoble1 and staying on top of tech news is not my day job. Since then I've made three changes:
- I'm checking Google Reader only once a week.
- I've culled my list of subscriptions, reducing the number of items per day by about 70%.
- For the high-volume feeds that remain, I read them in sort by magic order and don't read all of the items if I don't have time.
Just the first item, dealing with the news in batch mode, is sufficient to free up a big chunk of time (and mitigate the sensation of drowning). I still get news from other sources on a more-than-once-weekly basis— mostly, Google Buzz and email lists— and I'd like to improve the way I deal with those, too, but at this time they have far better S/N ratio and lower volume.
In my ideal world, for each feed I could turn a dial to say "show me the no-more-than-N most popular items per day for this feed". But sort by magic comes pretty close to what I want.
1 Scoble famously follows over 18,000(!) people on Twitter.