Introducing Friction for Improvement

The holiday season, I’ve been reviewing some of the systems I have built up over time to support my habits. This one is around my online reading habits.

Since the death of Google Reader, I’ve been using Feedly as my RSS feed  aggregator for a long time now. It’s been great because it synchronises across devices, & so I’ve always got something to read regardless of where I am.

That convenience of course has meant that I’ve gravitated towards reading whatever “new” stuff is flowing in, leaving my desire to be more intentional about what I’m consuming merely a desire.

These long holidays, I finally pulled the plug on Feedly, migrated the OPML file to Feedbro, a “local” newsreader extension for Chrome, Firefox & Edge (I use Chrome primarily).  I still have access to my newsfeeds – which I took the opportunity to prune down to half the size it was – BUT I have to sit down intentionally at the computer to read.  Feedbro doesn’t work on mobile. It doesn’t synchronise across devices, which means my primary workhorse is just one computer.  I am not as familiar with Feedbro’s features which means I’m not “saving” articles for later reading.   Just to make sure I switch across to a new system, I also deleted the Feedly app from my phone & the Feedly account (the Great App Purge of 2021 has also begun, although not as radically as Cal Newport suggests in his book Digital Minimalism).

In just a few days, I’ve reduced the number of times I’m picking up the phone to “read”.  The friction I’ve deliberately added to the process of online reading means also that I’m more likely to pick up a book. I’m currently reading Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything (yes, I’m late, & yes, it’s fantastic. It’ll probably be the subject of another post).

[I’ll review this system at the end of February, enough time for a new habit to have set in.]

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