When I first started using Bag“I felt like a kid in a candy store. I saved anything and everything, until a few weeks later, when I had an overflowing reading list with no clear plan for tackling it. Saving content was the easy part. Consuming it? Not so much.
I decided to make a concerted effort to become a better reader — not just a save-for-later-and-call-it-a-day reader. Here’s how I did it.
The case for using Pocket to become a better reader
With help from a read it later app prepares you for success in your reading process.
It keeps you focused† Instead of letting articles distract you from the task at hand, save them for later and continue working on what you’re currently working on.
It creates a read-me-now library† Dive right into reading mode without wasting time searching for content.
It offers a distraction-free reading experience. Pocket and other similar apps support targeted reading – no ads, no videos, nothing. On Pocket, you can choose your preferred reading mode (dark, light, or sepia) and adjust the font size to suit your preferences. In the premium version, you can even change the font itself.
But just because you are ready for success doesn’t mean you will succeed. Here’s how I managed to actually read with Pocket.
1. Save Content Consciously
Pocket’s Chrome extension makes it easy to save pieces with just one click† But if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably take advantage of this feature: you’ll save any article you think is even remotely interesting.
The more you save mindlessly, the less you actually have to read. That’s why I try to think before I save. This is what I look for in an article before adding it to Pocket:
The value† Does the headline promise a solution to a problem you are currently struggling with? Would you rather read the article?
The first few lines† How well do they involve you? If they don’t, the rest of the piece probably won’t either.
You can also create a list of ‘things to Pocket’. Every week or month, make a list of your top learning priorities. Then, while browsing the web or browsing social media, save only content that falls into a category on that list.
If you don’t trust your own willpower, you can automate the process. Connect Pocket to Zapier, and you can automatically add stuff to Pocket from anywhere you find interesting content by filtering it so that it only saves content that meets certain requirements. Learn more about how to automate pocket†
2. Block time for reading
The best way to read something is by block time for it† But for time blocking to be effective, you must: protect your time blocks† I do everything I can to make sure I’m always reading on a Saturday morning, no matter how long my to-do list for that day is.
If you really can’t block the time, or if you’d rather read through the weekdays in any spare time, add a Pocket shortcut to your browser. That makes it easier to access, and if it’s in sight, you’ll probably visit it more.
3. Use the audio function
My Saturday reading ritual finally took a hit. I was blocking out time to read, but life got in the way and I wanted to prioritize other things. That hit turned out to be a blessing in disguise when I discovered Pocket’s listening feature, which is available on the mobile app. The voices are not too bad, and you can even adjust the reading speed.
This let me use bundle temptation and habit stacking to get my reading done: I take daily walks, which I love, so I started listening to articles as I walked. It helped me build the habit of “reading” on top of something I already enjoy doing.
4. Train yourself to choose items you love
If you browse and archive without thinking about every article you read, you won’t figure out what’s worth reading – and it will continue to feel like a chore.
As you read each piece, determine if it’s a keeper. If so, add a tag to remind yourself why. I use #wowcontenttofollow for content I want to revisit and #freelancing for tips I can apply to my freelance work. Every so often I go back to see if there are any patterns in the content I’m tagging so I can focus on more such content.
I also like to highlight important takeaways while reading. This gives me an overview of my key lessons (easily accessible from the Highlights tab) and helps me better understand what types of articles are valuable to me. (One thing to note here: the free Pocket app only allows three highlights each; the premium version gives you unlimited highlights.)
If a piece doesn’t teach you anything new, you can archive it or delete it to keep your Pocket app organized†