How to get the Most out of your Blog Browsing

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I am thrilled to be featured on the fabulous Summer Organizer Spotlight series “I’m an Organizing Junkie.” Organizing Junkie, Laura, is asking a handful of questions to professional organizers and I am giddy to be included with this group of top-notch ladies! Pop on over to read my favorite places to organize and my favorite organizing product, although my choice might not come as a surprise to most of you.

While you are there, check out the marvelous organizing tips throughout the blogIt never disappoints!

Today I am sharing a guest post I wrote a few months back about using Google Reader to organize all the fabulous blogs I follow. It can quickly become overwhelming trying to keep up with the many talented bloggers out there. My organizing obsessed mind kept mulling over the question- how do we organize and keep track of all the blogs we read or would like to read?

Chances are your favorite blogs are scattered throughout various “placeholders”: bookmarks, RSS readers, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and maybe even Google+. This would be the definition of “virtual” disorganization. If you are longing to corral your blogs and quickly find the sites you love when you want them, then it is time to get your reading list organized!

Reader Organizing

If we think about blogs like paper articles or magazines the number one rule is to keep like with like. One of the easiest places to organize your blogs is in a RSS reader. RSS readers check the feeds of various sites you subscribe to. By clicking on the feed icon (usually in the top right corner of the page) you can add the blog to your reader. When new content is available it is “pushed” to your reading list. There are oh so many benefits of an RSS reader!

You can:

  • scan blogs quickly
  • read the whole post without leaving the reader, (unlike clicking on links in Facebook or Twitter)
  • sort sites by category
  • search all your favorite blogs at once
  • star your favorite posts
  • mark what you have already read

I’ve noticed that with the RSS reader, a drawback is you still have to go to the site to comment. Also, following your favorite blogs on a social media site does offer benefits, such as networking on Twitter or connecting on Facebook. But for your daily blog reading, a reader is a far more efficient a way to go. More efficient=more blogs to read; it’s a win/win!

Have I convinced you to use a reader? One of the most popular is Google Reader.

Google reader is super easy to start up if you aren’t using it already. Just Google it! Once you have your Google reader up and running, you are ready for step 1 in organizing your favorite blogs.

1. Collect Websites

Make a visit to all of your favorite sites and subscribe to their feeds. Look for the RSS feed symbol. Most are at the top right, including mine! If you’d like to subscribe to Space for Living (and I hope you do!) you can subscribe by RSS or by email.

Be sure to edit as you go, just because you once loved a site, doesn’t mean you need to keep it on your daily read list.

You can also add a Google Reader bookmarklet, a little button on your browser, that allows you to quickly subscribe to any page.  It saves searching around web pages looking for the RSS feed button. You can find the Google Reader bookmarklet by clicking on the settings button while in Google Reader, and select Reader settings. It is under the Goodies tab.

 

Now stay with me, this is the hardest part of the process. Try to have tunnel vision as you come across all the lovely blogs you’d love to meander through. Repeat with me “organizing blogs, organizing blogs, I’ll have time to actually read the blogs later.” Believe me, I know from experience. It’s far too easy to get distracted with all those new posts just waiting for a read. While in Google Reader you can star all the posts you want to read later and have a mega blog browsing session!

2. Create Folders

After subscribing to your favorite feeds, it is time to organize within Google Reader! Or maybe you are starting at this step with an already overloaded reader.

Reader Overload

Google has given us a few options to create folders.

Batch it up

While in Google Reader, click on the settings icon in the top right corner (right under your lovely name) and select Reader settings. From the tabs, click on Subscriptions. Your list of subscriptions will pop up and select Add to folder… on the right side. From there you can create new folders or choose folders you have created. Need a little visual?

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One by One

You can change the folders without going into the settings menu by hovering over the site and clicking the arrow that appears just to the right of the title. Select New folder… (all the way down on the bottom) to create one or add the blog to a folder you have already created. You can also drag and drop blogs into folders too.

Fun Extras

  • Rearrange folder by dragging and dropping
  • Rename the feeds to make them more personal to you

When you are all done you will have an organized reader!

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Here are just a few category ideas for naming your folders-

  • Daily Reads
  • Inspirational
  • Need a laugh
  • Just trying out-a holding place for new blogs you want to try out and see if you like them before making the big commitment of adding them to your folders.
  • Link parties or sorted even further by the days of the week- Example Saturday link parties

The possibilities are endless! And of course, you can always select All items if you want to see all the newest posts at once. Play around with the folder function and see what will work for you. The search function is also super helpful since I seem to always seem to forget where I read about that fabulous craft project I want to try “someday”. Looks like I need to create a new folder!

3. Bookmark

Last step is to add just one bookmark for Google Reader. With one bookmark click, you can find all your favorites and settle in for a read.

Also here is a video from, yep you guessed it, I’m an Organizing Junkie, explaining Google Reader and RSS feed for the beginner. A few apps shared were shared in the comments to access Google Reader on your iPhone or iPad is G-Whizz, $2.99, and Reeder, $2.99. I use the Google app; it’s free.

How do you keep up with your favorite blogs? Are you a Google Reader aficionado? Or do you prefer jumping around to different sites to get the full experience? Do you have an app you use for easy Google Reader browsing? Please do tell in the comments below!

Lightly Scheduled

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It is not too late to plan your summer schedule! I was inspired by a recent guest post here on Space for Living. Micki from Confessions of an ADD Housewife was sharing her summer schedule for her 6 kiddos. Something she said really stuck out, board kids create more messes and cause more trouble. So true. Here are a few things we are doing to keep our summer relax yet lightly scheduled.

I updated our morning and evening routines. Taking a cue from IHeart Organizing’s eye for design, I add some more color along with more tasks for my soon-to-be Kindergartener.

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Click here to view and download Morning Routine or Bedtime Routine.

Don’t worry, we still have days were we lounge around in our pjs all morning. It is summer after all! But most days, our routines help our mornings go smoother and get us ready for our summer activities faster! Plus my fingers are crossed for an easy transition into fall school schedules.

Speaking of summer activities, I love this theme day printable from Remarkable Home found on Pinterest. Jump on over to Remarkable Home to download your own.I have adapted this weekly schedule as my own.  Although we don’t follow it to the ‘T’ everyday, but combined with our general outline for the day we have been organized enough.

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What does your summer schedule look like? Are you a free spirit when it comes to summer or do you like some structure?

Lessons from Dad

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With Father’s Day right around the corner, I started to reminisce about my dear old dad. You may remember how I learned to organize from my self-proclaimed “disorganized” mom, but I’ve also shared a little about my dad in previous posts. Do you recognize the before and after pictures of the home office?

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Yup! That’s my dad’s office. After several months, I am proud to update that the office has remained relatively neat and tidy since the big clean out. The clutter pictured in the before pic was simply a case of years and years of paperwork. With all of the file cabinets full, there was no space for new, incoming papers. Once we had cleared out the old, there was plenty of room for the new.

While my dad may have needed a little help with overflowing paperwork, I have learned plenty of other organizing lessons from my father. Like most of the lessons I gleaned from him, the organizing lessons were not taught out loud, but instead were demonstrated through his actions.

 

Plan Ahead

Sports was a major part of our family calendar, running in particular. All 3 of my siblings were athletes. During high school training days, the time we would run was always planned out the day before. Days of the week were assigned a theme; Mondays were speed workouts, Saturdays our long runs, etc.

Nothing too groundbreaking but everything else in the schedule was planned with a daily run in mind. Dinner was planned around running and when important activities came up, runs were squeezed in or scheduled for an off day.

No matter what project my dad was in the middle of, it was left undone for the afternoon run. Not only were runs planned ahead, but they were always followed through on. Once the plan was made it was hard to veer off course.

Of course the lesson of planning ahead extends far beyond the great sport of running. I learned early on, you will do what you make time for. I also learned the importance of setting aside time for taking care of yourself. If you plan ahead you’ll make the time, but if you don’t plan for it, you and your wellbeing will be squeezed out by less important tasks.

 

Set Priorities

When I was a teenager, my dad worked from home. That meant he was home every afternoon, but it also meant he had to finish a day’s work while the kids arrived home at 2:30pm. Unless he had a class to teach away from the house, I don’t remember him working in the evenings. There was a clearly defined quitting time and family activities filled up the evening.

Just as planning ahead helped to guarantee a run for the day, our other priorities were given defined time in our schedule.

Every Friday throughout all of junior high, my dad would pick me up after school to go get ice cream together. Of course I never realized as a child that he might have work to do and he had to find a way to make up that work throughout the week. I don’t remember ever missing one of those Friday treat days, although I am sure we must have.

This lesson proved invaluable during my first year of teaching when I could hardly see straight. My dad would remind me to go get a run in. When you are in the thick of the chaos you can’t see how you can make the time for anything else. “It will help relieve the stress,” he would say. Sure enough it always did and gave me the boost of energy I needed.

Whenever I would feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of raising 2 kids under two; a time where nothing seemed to get completed, I kept exercise first on my list of self-care. I’d look at that long list of household to do’s and I would tell myself that all I had to get done that day was my workout.

I even made myself a mantra, “It doesn’t matter if the laundry is folded or the house is vacuumed, I am more important than that.” Believe me, there were days it didn’t happen, but I quickly learned a run can make or break my day.

I thought about times when my dad must have felt overwhelmed or tired at the end of the week. He had set our ice cream date as a priority and he stuck to it.

 

Routines

Combine the two lessons above, setting priorities and planning ahead, and routines are a natural next step. My dad never used the word, routine, but he had routines for everything!

  • Early morning was always quiet time in the Word.
  • Fridays were for errands.
  • Friday afternoon meant a Friday treat (one that we never let him forget).
  • Saturdays were for pancakes and special Sundays meant we got donuts.
  • Saturday mornings were for chores and Sunday afternoons for rest.

His routines were just as strict in the summer. And while the rest of the family got a break his work continued year round.  And many of the routines continue with my own daily schedule, and the schedule I build for my family. For me they create a sense of structure that facilitates productivity.

From my father I learned a sense of adventure and determination and I learned discipline. Discipline to take small steps towards your goals, discipline to get up and try again when you fail, and discipline to do the hard stuff even when you don’t feel like doing a single thing.

Honestly, I still have many areas in my life I could infuse with more discipline, and thankfully I have a great role model to refer to. How true that you learn more from what your parents do and not what they say!

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

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What is the greatest lesson you learned from your dad?

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