Ideas for a Better Reading Experience

Even if reading was our full-time job, we couldn't begin to scratch the surface of what's being produced at any given moment. Here are some rules to reclaim our reading sanity.

I love reading. Books, blogs, articles, you name it. But even my voracious reading appetite has its limits. There’s just too much out there, and the content factory seems to be accelerating rather than slowing down.

Even if reading was your full-time job, you couldn’t begin to scratch the surface of what’s being produced at any given moment. And that’s a problem. Because you don’t want to waste time, and you have a (very) limited amount of time to devote to the articles of the day.

That’s why curated newsletters, aggregators, or news apps exist. They outsource the tedious task of hunting for great content, relying on a third party to deliver the best stories based on its criteria (which might or might not align with yours).

But even with these platforms doing a great job, it’s still overwhelming. You’re bombarded with a torrent of articles, sites, or products that vie for your attention.

Say you like to read Medium posts. Well, I do. The platform has found a sweet balance between delivering great content and presenting it in a way that resonates with readers. I could spend hours on its website and never have enough.

To gain control over this, I signed up to receive just one email per day with top stories. They do a pretty decent job at tailoring this based on my interests, but even this fantastic digest might take 2 hours to complete. And that’s just Medium.

Now add your news aggregator, favorite blogs and magazines, Twitter feed, Hacker News… You started at 07:00 am with Medium, and now it’s lunchtime, and you haven’t even begun your work.

To me, this reading routine is broken. What worries me most is the quality of the reading. Presented with 15 articles and only 30 minutes to spare, I can’t savor the experience. Reading becomes a race to the bottom, a task to complete rather than a pleasure. Reading was once a peaceful escape, but now feels like a neverending chase for the latest story.

So, I’m writing this post to break free from this reading treadmill and enjoy an activity that’s meant to be pleasant. Here’s my set of rules for the ultimate reading experience:

  • Limit your sources: Control your information flow by carefully choosing the sources. From magazines to platforms like Feedly, handle them wisely. Even podcasts count; they’re great for commuters.
  • Click and read: Don’t flood your browser with tabs waiting to be read. It only magnifies the “inbox zero” sensation. Engage with content one piece at a time, maybe through a mobile device for focused reading.
  • Less content, more quality: Tricky but vital. Choose wisely, read less, enjoy more. Don’t fear missing out. If something matters, it’ll find you.
  • Write it down, take notes: Summarize or jot down thoughts after reading. It deepens your engagement, turning each article into a standalone experience rather than just another task.

I know it’s not easy, but with practice, it gets better. By embracing these rules, we can transform reading from an overwhelming chore into a delightful journey. Let’s reclaim our reading sanity.

First published on December 08, 2014