*This post is outdated*
Reading articles online is a great way to learn new information, learn new skills, and keep on top of current events. Unfortunately, many services that attempt to make reading articles online easier often lack important features or cause as many problems as they solve.
My Article Reading Process
Last week, I decided to update my article reading process. Previously, I used Feedly (and before that, Google Reader) and Pocket for my article reading. Over the past several years, I had built up a good number of articles, but rarely got around to reading through them.
At the start of this project, I had gotten up to about 7000 unread articles (which I found using this Android Widget), but couldn’t find an easy way to see how many articles were in my Read and Favorites sections (about halfway through this renovation, I figured out how, which I’ll explain below). These issues, combined with a few features that Pocket was lacking (number of Articles Read each day, Mass Tagging) led me to seek a new home for my articles. After reading some guides online, I decided that Evernote would be a good place to store my articles. It already contained much of my life, so it seemed natural to give Evernote my articles, too. I signed up for Evernote Premium to increase my data upload capacity, and started clipping my Favorite and Read articles from Pocket. Because these were the two groups of articles that I couldn’t track, I decided to get them out of the way first.
Using the Evernote Web Clipper (which unfortunately doesn’t let you remove ugly aspects of the article before clipping it), clipping the articles, tagging them, and finding a notebook for them (I’ll share my Tag and Notebook list at the end of this post) was easy, but time consuming. I was able to clip between 50 and 1000 articles per day, depending on how much work I put into it, and after 8 days, had gotten through 2454 articles, ~800 of which were from my Favorites. Once my Favorites were finished, I didn’t have a strong desire to keep the articles that I read, but didn’t Favorite. I also figured out that by going to Pocket Settings, and Export, I was able to export an HTML file listing all of my articles, divided between Unread and Read (It looks like Favorites are not marked, and are included in whichever list they’re in in Pocket). By pasting this list into Excel, I was able to use the cell counts to determine how many articles I had.
At this point, I decided that the remaining Read articles were not worth my time, and I began deleting them. The number of Read articles was all I really cared about when I started this project, and as long as my Favorites were already saved, I was fine deleting the articles. I still have the full list from the Export, if I need to reference it in the future. So at this point, I knew how many articles I’d read, how many I have unread, and had all of my favorites saved so I can refer to them later. I briefly changed Feedly to automatically send my unread articles to Evernote instead of Pocket and decided Pocket was just going to be used to clear out my unread articles, but soon realized that Evernote was unruly for dealing with unread articles. This has been my process for about a week, and now I’m about to slightly change it up again. Because of the way IFTTT (I’ll include the recipes I use at the end of the post) processes articles into Evernote, only an excerpt of the article gets clipped. This is fine, because I don’t need full articles in Evernote, but it does make it slightly annoying to read through my unread articles. I have to click the link, go to the website, read the article, and then go back to Evernote, tag it, and move it into the Read folders.
Today, I decided that Pocket is going to remain the home of my unread articles. It’s a much easier process to read articles in Pocket, at which point I will tag them and mark them as Read in Pocket. Then IFTTT will send the read article (with Tags) into Evernote. I also have articles I mark as Favorites sent to a separate Favorite folder in Evernote. This updated process accomplishes all the goals I set out to achieve and is almost as easy (the increased difficulty is worth it, because it allows me to see the article counts). I have noticed some slowing down of Evernote, I’m not sure if it’s due to the increased number of notes (I went from ~1000 to 4028 in two weeks), because I’ve also noticed some slowness in my computer as a whole. Here are my Article Tags and Article Notebooks that help me sort all of these articles. I also have a file called Article Stats, which includes my Tag List, how many articles I deleted without clipping, and my original Pocket Account Exports.
- Choose a process that works for you, and that you can stay committed to. My process is pretty intensive due to how much information I want to track. If you only care about saving and reading articles, only using Pocket or a similar service may work better.
- Plan for the future. If you think you might want to track your article reading later, it’s better to formulate a process that allows you to do so now, even if you don’t take advantage of it until later. Switching 10,000+ articles between multiple services is not a fun endeavor.
- Automate as much as possible. It’s a lot easier to keep this process going if you can automate several steps. The steps I can’t automate (like manually writing down daily article counts), I complete as part of my daily routine. Completing it at the same time each day is as close to automating as I can get for now.
I’ll update this post to let you know if I experience more slowness, or if I change my process any more. Let me know your article process or if you have any questions.