Streamlining my to-read list: clearing the mental roadblocks
I’ve always been the kind of person who has a hard time closing tabs (or rather, the one with a horrible habit of treating my tab bar like a neverending "to-do someday" list.) My browser’s tab bar would frequently be cluttered with articles and links that I'd promise myself to read later... but rarely did. I struggled with it for quite some time, and it’s been a topic here far more frequently than I would prefer.
The feeling of frustration manifests even more acutely in this modern era of creators and exceptionally easy-to-use publishing platforms. My problem seems rooted in my need to know that while I might not want to read something immediately, I may want to someday. If I’m going to close a tab, I need to know that it’s somewhere I could easily happen upon it again.
My first serious attempt at dealing with this frustration was with a bookmark management tool called Raindrop. It’s an extremely capable tool—and one I still use for various bookmarking needs—but it didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t the real workflow/solution I wanted. That’s when I discovered Reader by Readwise.
Readwise was the game-changer. It’s a single click to put a page (tab) in my queue to “read later,” which gets processed by me separately in Readwise’s mobile/web apps. This creates a secondary review step in my workflow, effectively making me triage my reading list into either “I think I just wanted to bookmark this for reference” (archiving it, still searchable/accessible) or “I truly want to make sure I read this.” The latter gets moved from my inbox to a different “read later” list inside Readwise will occasionally push out to my mobile in digest form.
Now in my day-to-day web browsing, my count of open tabs in the tab bar is almost always in the single digits. Better still, the internal guilt around “things I know I want to read but probably won’t” is drastically diminished, and I’ve got a twice-filtered reading with an incredible signal-to-noise ratio.