Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

ROW80: A Ray of Sunshine

I write this after having a day of unplanned relaxation.  It wasn’t my intention; Sunday and Monday were epic workdays where I made major headway on framing the arguments for my current thesis chapter, as well as outlining tell me no lies.  However, I woke up to sunshine streaming through my windows.  Given that the past few weeks have looked like this…

That is rain on the window. Yes, in AUGUST.

and this…

Mid-day, and already dark and dreary. Ugh.

…it’s little surprise that I abandoned working for laying out in the backyard with a book.

As a result, I’m slightly behind on my writing goals, which means I need to write roughly 3200 words today to catch up. I’m a little worried about how things are going to go this weekend, as I’ve been tapped to drive to Los Angeles so I can help my mom move my sister into her new apartment before school starts.  We’ll be staying at my apartment in Santa Barbara to help break up the trip a little bit, which is definitely exciting — I miss my deck garden, and I left a few things behind that I’d like to pick up.  Still, I’m not sure exactly how much I’m going to get done, so I am resigning myself to the fact that I might not make 50K by the end of the month.

However, not all was fun and games today!  I wrote a silly blog post about my first story, and more importantly, I finally battled the mess of my Google reader.

Google Reader organizes RSS feeds, aggregating blogs and news sites into one easy-to-navigate, easily-organized place.  I’ve used it off and on, but given the number of blogs I’ve started to follow, it’s become essential to have a central place where I can access them.

My current Reader home page (Click to Enlarge)

There are other RSS readers out there, of course, but I like Google Reader because of its integration with Google’s other services. I think it has a few other advantages as well (though I am not sure if these are unique, or shared by other RSS readers):

  • Starring: Google reader offers the ability to “star” individual posts, similar to the starring system in Gmail.  I use this function to mark posts that I want to return to, or ones that I might want to discuss in a future link mash-up.

My current starred items (click to enlarge)

  • Integration with Google dashboard.  All subscription to Blogger-hosted blogs are automatically added to the Google dashboard, which then pops up in the Reader. As a WordPress blogger, it makes it a lot easier for me to keep track of what everyone outside of WP is doing.
  • Folders.  Okay, this is actually something new I just learned about and just spent the past hour instituting.  Feeds can be cross-posted into multiple (!) folders, which really makes life a lot easier.
  • Trends.  I haven’t gotten around to using this at length, but the Reader provides stats on number of subscriptions, number of items read, how often subscriptions are updated, and lots of other interesting info.  There are also charts, and, you know, I have a love affair with charts.

My trends, albeit slightly inflated from clearing out my 1000+ unread items today. (Click to Enlarge)

I’m sure there are other awesome things that can be done, but these are some of the highlights that I’ve noticed.  Overall, I think this’ll keep me more organized, and streamline my blog-reading, which up till now has been incredibly hodgepodge.  Even better, it will help me to keep track of the blogs that I stumble upon in my research and world-building endeavors, since up till now I’ve been bookmarking pertinent articles and then forgetting about them.

Don’t forget to swing by the other ROW80 participants to offer cookies, hugs, and words of support!

Anyone else using Google Reader or another RSS aggregator?  What are your favorite features?  Least favorite features?  

22 Comments

  1. I’m using something called Feedly which I think has something to do with google (he who knows about such things installed it) I just put everything I want to follow in a category of my choosing and a list appears. It’s basic but it works for me 🙂

    • Simple is good too! Sounds like Feedly is also really useful for keeping things straight. And I lol’d at your comment about “he who knows about such things.” My last boyfriend was a techie whiz, and AMAZING about setting me up with things. I don’t quite know how it all functions, but it works, and that’s all that matters. :p

  2. Our summer here in England has not been dissimilar to yours so I can definately understand the need to lie in the sun while you can! You deserved a break as you have been so busy and if anyone can make up your word count you can!

    • Oh gosh, I forgot about England’s weather. I spent 4 months in Oxford back in 2007 (I was there in the winter, from January — April), and I felt quite at home in all the fog and chilliness.

      I’m so happy that I got the break, especially because the fog rolled back in the next day! The rest and relaxation was SO essential. 😀

  3. Sometimes, you just have to take those days when they come to you! After all, the work will still be there when it’s over, but the day itself will not. I fully support reading books in the sun; I just like to call them….”recharging periods.”

    Good luck with everything! I’m sure the break afforded from a recharging period will just make the extra 3200 words fly.

    • Ah, yes, recharging periods — these are so essential. A friend of mine refers to himself as a human solar panel, and claims that he can only “run” when he’s had plenty of time to charge up in the sun. I’m thinking about adopting this for my mantra; relaxation time out-of-doors is so important for mental health.

  4. I’m not organized enough to use a reader! Might be a good idea, though; anything to cut down on the time necessary for social media is great.

    Congrats on the progress and the sunshine and have a great rest of the week!

    • Yes, I think using the reader will definitely save me time in the long run when it comes to tackling social media. The set-up was really what took the longest — roughly an hour for me to make folders, track down the blogs that I follow most often, and get them all organized. Once that was done, though, the rest was a breeze. The reader also shows you when there are unread blog posts, so it’s easy to scroll through and find new updates to read.

  5. I’d actually be happy with a little rain – it has been warm for weeks, and will be yucky hot today. But there’s definitely a thing such as too much rain. Sometimes you do need to take the time to stop and smell the roses, and soak in that sunshine! So good for you 🙂

    Best wishes for hitting the extra word count today – but even if you don’t hit it, make sure you pat yourself on your back for all that you have accomplished. Taking a day to rejuvenate the soul and spirit is just as rewarding!!!

    Have a wonderful week sweetie!

    Marie

    • Thanks so much, Marie! Yes, the sun was a total necessity — I can only handle so much fog and cold. I am happy to report that I’ve caught up with the word count, and that I’m on track to hit 50K by the end of the month. I can hardly believe it. 😀

  6. How crazy is that? I subscribed to a blog and using Google was one of the options. I’d forgotten all about my Google page. I, too, usually bookmark pages, rarely, if ever, to look at them again. With this info, I can slowly start to get them organized. Thank you much!
    And by the way, taking a day off every now and then is allowed – necessary, actually. Plus, there are some things more important than writing. For me, helping family is one of them. Enjoy your time. The writing will be there for you when you get back…so says she who bumps things to the next day in her planner on a regular basis.

    • You’re so welcome, Stephanie! I’ve been stumbling about the internet for months, trying to get all my links in order as well, and the Reader finally came to me out of the blue. I must say that I have been having WAY too much fun organizing everything (I’m not an organizational freak, I swear), and I think it’s going to really revolutionize the way that I read and follow blogs.

      You’re right — family is on my high list of priorities as well. I’ve been seeing so many blog posts about making time for writing, etc, but I have the opposite problem: the tendency to drop everything else to only focus on writing. I need to get better about taking time out to do non-writing things without getting hung up on progress and all of that. As you say, the writing will be there when I get back (I may have to inscribe that in my writing journal somewhere!).

  7. Great job on the Google Reader–I think you’ve covered it all! I love the ability to star posts, and to organize things into folders, since I have such widely varied blogs that I follow. I haven’t quite seen the point of trends, except that it does show me which blogs no longer capture my interest. I don’t think I need to do a post on it, unless you have something you want me to cover.

    You’ve been burning the candle at both ends, so a day off was well-deserved, sounds to me! Having just done the college drop-off, I will wish you good luck with that trip.

    And don’t beat yourself up about the goals–they’re goals for a reason, in that they take a bit of a stretch. They are not an opportunity to beat ourselves up about failure!

    • Thanks! I don’t *think* there’s anything else to cover with Google Reader, at least not in terms of the functions that I use.

      The day off was wonderful, and I’m so glad I just let myself indulge for a bit. I caught up with the word count, as I always seem to do, and I’m trying to remind myself that goals aren’t life and death. I think I’ve spent so long shirking my writing that I’m feeling quite militant about keeping up with it — a sense of fear, perhaps, that if I let things slide for a day or two, I’ll fall back into my old lazy ways. But writing has become such an integrated part of my life that I doubt anything of the sort could happen, so I am going to endeavor to calm down a smidge. 😀

  8. <3 Google Reader. I wouldn't be able to keep up with my myriad of blogging communities without it. Folders and charts are the whoop.

    When you get real tricksy, you can get an app for your phone that syncs with it (I currently use MobileRSS for the iPhone), and then you become a super reading machine. Also, one of those people who walks into walls randomly because they got sucked in to a great article.

    Okay, so you don't technically HAVE to become one of those people, and I endeavor to avoid it… but I LOVE TO READ ALL THE THINGS!

    • Wait…

      I can get an APP for that?!

      *runs off to download*

      Thanks for the tip! I am also a reading monster, so this is going to make my life better (hopefully).

  9. Thanks so much for the info on google reader! I have it, I just have never used cause I just did’t “get it” and couldn’t find the time to figure it out. This way I can stay connected to the blogs I follow and not constantly scroll through the insane amount of bookmarks I have! Good luck on your writing, and YAY! for sunshine!

    • I’m so happy you found the Google Reader information useful! I’m a little obsessed with it at the moment, and still squealing at my sparkly new folders. We’re sadly back to foggy weather today, but I’m looking forward to Los Angeles, where it should be in the 80s.

      Have a great rest of your week!

  10. Those unexpected breaks often prove to be the most refreshing!

    I also appreciate your introduction to Google Reader. My blog reading has been similar to yours — love the description hodge podge. Yes, that’s it! I mean to go back and read blogs, but all the clicking and entering other sites takes up a lot of time. 🙂

    • I’m so happy that I had the break. It felt amazing to sort of lay around and not worry about responsibilities and what not.

      Glad that the Google Reader intro was useful. I was having such a hard time with blog reading, especially trying to keep the WordPress blogs and the Blogger ones straight. This definitely is going to make me a lean, mean, blog-reading machine. :p

  11. After all the rain, you totally couldn’t be blamed for taking a break in the sun. Sometimes a break is good to push you to your goals – like that huge amount you had to write yesterday. Hope you succeeded! Good luck this weekend finding time to write!
    I had no idea you could do so much on Google reader. I used to use it a lot, but somehow got out of the habit, I should get back into it… Thanks for the reminder!

    • Thanks so much! Yes, I agree — I think breaks are necessary for recharging and having a bit of downtime to brew on ideas and whatnot. I am happy to report that I have caught up with my NaNo goals, and that I have less than 10K to write in order to “win”!

      So happy you found the Google Reader bits useful. I also fell out of the habit of using it. Lately I’ve been at my wits’ end trying to keep track of all the blogs that I’m following, and I suddenly remembered: use the Reader! Hopefully it helps you as much as it has helped me. 😀

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