How Feedly helped me reach Inbox Zero
There’s been a trend over the last couple years to pivot to newsletters. My local radio station, software development news, and even people I follow have been putting out a lot of content straight to my email. That’s the same email where people send me emails directly, where I get work information, and all kinds of promotions.
It can be overwhelming to see so much stuff in my inbox, and suddenly you aren’t reading anything at all. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of tiny calls for your attention became unbearable. You delete all of them in a fury. But I actually had to ask you something important and that’s been buried. I don’t hear back. That’s not good for anyone.
About two years ago I signed up for Feedly Pro+ and have had no regrets. I signed up in 2013, right as Google Reader shut down. Over time I’ve found myself using it for more. At the time of writing, I follow 222 different feeds spanning comics, developer blogs, local news, research papers, and much more.
The much more is the reason I started paying, a way to improve my own inbox woes.
For $12 a month, you get a bunch of improvements to the core reading experience. I get to annotate and add notes to posts. I can add articles to collections called boards. And their AI engine called “Leo” provides a bunch of other capabilities so that following that many feeds is manageable.
But one thing I really went for was being able to follow much more than just RSS feeds. Many sources do not support that and while I’ve been creating standard feeds, I’d rather not put in my own time and effort where it’s not necessary. Feedly Pro+ supports more kinds of feeds including Twitter, Reddit, web searches, and newsletters.
The newsletter one is the coolest. While it’s possible to scrape websites, Feedly will actually generate unique email addresses you can enter into forms. Emails get directed into Feedly rather than your inbox. I’ve subscribed to about a dozen different newsletters now and I can access them when I want to, not when it tells me to.
For existing email subscriptions I have started forwarding them. It’s easy in Gmail to add automatic filters. For a variety of them I’ve generated queries.
Then I forward them to a Feedly email and archive the original email. It never appears in my inbox but does appear in my Feedly queue. My email remains open and empty.
Leo is neat. It’s basically the catch-all term for Feedly’s AI-powered features. With their Web Alerts, you can scan the web for specific topics similar to Google News Alerts.
I also have set up a Leo alert for work-related topics, as I work at Google. This type of alert scans my existing feeds for all mentions of the given subject so that I can see those first. You see that there are a variety of different levers I can pull to develop my high-priority feed.
That way, when I have a limited amount of time I can quickly see the highest priority items first. I may start each morning with 200 items in total, but will have just a few must-read items. I’ve had to adjust this every so often, tweaking what is not a priority. Non-priorities still appear in my total feed, but are intermixed with other items of regular priority.
For each article, Leo automatically highlights what it thinks are the main points. While I am free to read the whole article, I do like how it tries to pick out the one or two sentences that show the key points of the article. Sometimes that’s all I need.
RSS is still cool
I’m not being paid to write this. I’m just a fan of Feedly as a service and my usage continues to grow. I keep finding more feeds I want to add and more newsletters to sign up for. They continue to make it even easier to ingest data even when the website doesn’t use RSS. Still, I’m a bit fan of RSS and will continue to advocate for it and that more people should use it. There are some suggestions to return to blogs as a way of sharing information. That sounds great.
Regardless of the mechanism though, I’m happy Feedly has got my back.