Tools to Streamline your Virtual Reading List

How many blogs do you subscribe to?
Do you manage to read all the blog posts you subscribe to each day?
Are you constantly reading blog posts and not doing any other work?

This used to be me, it was a struggle to keep up with the amount of online reading I needed to do, what with everything going on in the social media world and trying to find relevant content to share with my social media fans/followers. It felt like a really tough slog most days until I found ways to streamline my reading. 

I wrote Reading List Overwhelming You? 6 Tips That Will Help! (here’s a spooky fact, I wrote this on 17 January 2012, exactly a year to the day!) which provided some tips to help you with your ever growing reading list.  I also wrote How to Save Time with RSS! which explains how I went about setting up RSS feed subscriptions for all the blogs I follow.

I use two main tools, one I have mentioned many times before, Flipboard. I use it everyday, I would never be able to keep up with all the articles online without it.  I have tried others but they don’t come close to the Flipboard interface as far as I am concerned. You can download the app on both iOS and Android, so you will need a smartphone to use it. Click here for all my articles mentioning Flipboard.

The other tool, which I don’t think I have mentioned on my blog before is Pocket. I have the app on my iPhone and on my iMac, and I think you can get this as a Google Chrome add-on (please correct me if I’m wrong someone?).

Pocket used to be called Read It Later. When I am going through Flipboard in the evenings and I find a really interesting article, instead of reading it all the way through there and then, I will click ‘read later’ on my iPhone and it will be added to Pocket. As I have the app on my iMac, if I get a spare 10 minutes during the day I can quickly find all the articles I want to take another look at, it’s synced between devices which is great!

This is how it looks on my iMac:

As you can see I have quite a few articles still in Pocket to go through, but it’s a safe place to keep them if I want to refer back to them at any stage. I can even add articles to Buffer (yes, mentioning it again) directly from the Pocket app, which is very handy.

Typically on a daily basis I only use these two tools to keep up with the blogs and social media network articles I come across. If I stumble upon a new blog that looks interesting (like I did yesterday, see the article in my Pocket image above) then I add it to my Google Reader account which automatically syncs it through to Flipboard. Simple!

What tools do you use to keep up with blogs you’re subscribed to, or the latest news online?

The Last Two Weeks

As I am half way through the Ultimate Blog Challenge, I can’t believe it’s already day 15, so I have decided to do a bit of a cheat post today (plus, my Internet connection is likely to be disconnected at some point today, so I need to be quick!) and list all the posts I have published over the last 14 days.  I wouldn’t normally do it like this, but as I have been posting both on this blog and my eBook formatting blog you may have missed some.

Day 1

My Top 10 Posts of 2012

Day 2

Social Media for Authors – Part 1

Day 3

Why France?

Day 4

Paperback or eBook?

Day 5

Incredible Goal Setting for 2013!

Day 6

Virtual Author Services – DIY or Outsource?

Day 7

5 Simple WordPress Plugins

Day 8

How are eBooks Evolving?

Day 9

Who needs a schedule?

Day 10

Sneak Preview – eBook Marketing eCourse

Day 11

Flick the Off Switch More Often!

Day 12

Education Never Ends

Day 13

Twitter Follow Back Rules

Day 14

12 Steps to Format an eBook

Twitter Follow Back Rules

While I was scrolling through my new Twitter follower’s this morning I came up with this idea for a blog post.  

How many of you take time each day to see who your new followers are and decide whether to follow them back? Or, do you just follow everyone back?

In my opinion it pays to keep an eye on who you are following, and who unfollows you.  You can check out a previous post on the tool I use to look at all this sort of information, 5 Ways to Analyse Twitter with SocialBro.

But this blog post is all about Twitter profiles and what to look for when deciding who to follow.  First though, a little quiz (the answers are at the bottom), out of the following 10 Twitter followers, which ones did I follow back?  Put your answers in a comment before checking your answers.





















Without giving away just yet which ones I followed back I want to just go over the things I look for when deciding whether to follow or not.

Am I interested in any of the information they have provided in their profile?

The first thing I look at is whether this person interests me, as a general rule I tend to follow back all authors and writers because this is the niche of my business, and books interest me. If they are neither authors or writers, then I check for other interests such as France, cooking, pets etc… If they come across as normal people who tweet normal things that interest me then I follow back.

Do we have something in common?

Similar to the above, if we have interests or business goals in common it’s likely I will follow back.

Could they be a potential client?

This is a difficult one because everyone could be a potential client. If someone sounds normal, has a genuine sounding profile and I am interested in what they have to say then I follow back. Sometimes I will look at the last few tweets they have made if I’m really not sure, that usually confirms whether I follow or not.

Does the profile contain any hashtags such as #teamfollow or similar?

This may be personal opinion, but I really hate it when people use these hashtags in Twitter profiles, it’s even more likely I won’t follow you if you have this stupid hashtag in your profile.

Do I know what this person tweets about?

I like to know by just reading the profile what this person tweets about, if it’s not clear then I will have a look at the last few tweets, and if it’s still not clear I don’t follow back. You can see one of my examples above is in a language I don’t even understand, so there is no reason why I would follow someone when I won’t even understand their language… oops given that one away!

Do they have the default profile image?

If you have the default egg image as your profile picture it’s usually a sure fire way of me not following you back. There are exceptions to this rule of mine, one is personal friends/family who don’t know much about Twitter to begin with, I let them off for a while. Another is those people who explain the reason they use the default image such as one of my followers the other day, she had set-up a new account and was preparing an image for this new account. Explanations go a long way…

I hope that’s given you some ideas about what you can look for on Twitter if you’re constantly umming and ahhing about who you should and shouldn’t follow. In fact as I was writing this I realised that I did some similar posts last year, which you can check out here (I don’t think my rules have changed much) – 5 Followers NOT to Follow on Twitter! and Who do you Follow on Twitter?

And here are the answers… (really small so you can’t cheat easily!)
3, 5, 8, 10

Flick the Off Switch More Often!

Well this is a first, I am writing this blog post directly from my iPhone while watching (or listening) to the TV – it’s in French anyway, so I’m not missing much!

It’s nearly 10pm and I suddenly realised I’d forgotten to write and post today’s blog challenge post. I then remembered that I had the WordPress app on my iPhone which I haven’t ever used before.

So today’s blog post is about the importance of switching off from work, ironic yes?

I spend many an evening telling myself to put my iPhone down and read a book, or do something other than work but it’s difficult when you run your own business. Each hour if the day is another hour you could be earning money or finding that new client.

But… when I do switch off one evening (like I did last night) I sleep better and I wake up with tons of motivation the next day.

So here are a few tips on how you can learn to switch off more, even if you’re a workaholic:

  • Start by switching off once or twice during the week, gradually you’ll notice how it benefits the way you work and you’ll want to do it more often
  • If you must work in the evenings, then take time out during the day, even if it’s just an hour for lunch – my favourite thing to do at lunchtime is watch an episode of a TV series I enjoy (most recently that was Once Upon A Time) while chilling on the sofa with the dog
  • At the very least try not to check those emails or social media networks right before bedtime – this is hard for me, but imagine a client sends you an email last thing at night that really stresses you out (it’s happened to me), you spend the night worrying about it and your sleep is disrupted!

So I am going to follow my own advice right now and publish this post so I can switch off before bedtime. Apologies for the lack of formatting on this post (which hopefully I have now made better), the first job in the morning for me will be tidying it up – but at least I’ve not got behind on the blog challenge!

Let me know your switching off tips in the comments and I’ll give them a try, I need all the help I can get.

Who needs a schedule?

I read many articles which suggest you become more disciplined, create a schedule and stick to it, or plan every hour of the day so you know exactly what you’re doing and when.  But having tried and tested these suggestions over the last year or so I have come to the conclusion that having a set schedule does not agree with me.


One of the main reasons it doesn’t agree with me is because when I write down an hour by hour schedule, if something ‘off the schedule’ happens it cascades down the rest of the days activities causing me to stress about what I should be doing, rather than actually getting on with the work in question.

© Jean Valley –

For example… a few months ago I set out a day by day schedule to include the following:

  • Walking the dog
  • Checking and responding to emails
  • Client work
  • Social media
  • Power Hour

It was a pretty vague schedule, but I had put these activities within a time bracket.  So dog walking between 9.30 and 10.30 (and again between 3.30 and 4.30), and client work between 10.30 and 12.00 (and again between 2.00 and 3.30).  What happened when I got up late one morning?  I was behind before I’d even got started for the day which created stress for the rest of the day, constantly trying to catch up with my schedule.

I read this great article yesterday which gave me inspiration to write this post – 7 Ways to Be a Stress-Free Workaholic

Change of plan…

I ripped that schedule off the wall and decided to work on things when I was in the right frame of mind to work on them.  I still have to walk the dog in the morning, but if I haven’t left the house at 9.30 I’m not getting stressed about it.

For now I’ve decided to follow the workbooks by Leonie Dawson which I mentioned in my previous post Incredible Goal Setting for 2013!.  Her suggestion is to write down your 3 MIT’s (Most Important Tasks) for the day. That way, I have written down everything I need to get done each day (or month) and I can break bigger tasks down into smaller ones.  The same can be applied to client work, for example, I am currently formatting a book which requires me to insert 111 images.  It’s going to take some time, so I have broken it down into smaller chunks, rather than sitting for hours trying to get it all done in one sitting and going cross-eyed.

What I find easier than creating a schedule is working out how I can spend less time doing something.  This morning I decided to create some rules in Outlook to redirect all the newsletters I get into a folder other than the inbox.  I also decided that I would start implementing the 4 D’s for my email – Do it, Delegate it, Delete it or Defer it.  I hope this will improve my overflowing inbox!  As I just had to look up the 4 D’s to remind myself, I thought I would link to the article I found, lots of tips for email – Empty your Inbox: 4 ways to take control of your email

Here is another article from the same site as the previous one about stress – 10 Easy Ways to Get More Done

So from now on, I won’t be scheduling, I will be flying through the day as it happens but trying to make my tasks more fun and take less time.  Any tips on how I can improve on this please leave me a comment.