No matter what your profession or hobby is, you probably read news, and don't want to miss important stuff. Google Reader is a RSS feed reader that enables you to follow hundreds of feeds, news, blogs, or your friends social network activity.
Only thing you need to start is a Google Mail account, if you already have one, simply log in at http://reader.google.com . If you also wish to use it when disconnected from the Internet, install Google Gears from http://gears.google.com/ . Then you will notice a green icon in upper right corner, which switches you to offline mode.
First you need to find the links to RSS feeds. Just go to your favorite news sites and blogs, most of them already have a RSS link somewhere in the corner, eventually enter "RSS" in search on their page.
Click on "Add subscription", and include copy/paste the RSS link, it usually has the extension .xml, .rss or .rdf. For example:
After you add a couple of your favorite RSS feeds, click on "Discover", and a list of RSS feeds that corresponds to your interests will be shown. The list shows how popular a feed is, how many Google Reader users are subscribed to that feed, and you can simply click "Subscribe" to add this feed to your subscriptions.
The navigation is pretty intuitive, you have an extended view, where you see the complete article, and a list view with titles only. As soon as you scroll through the article it's marked as read.
When you click on a title, the originating web page opens in a new tab.
A great feature are the keyboard shortcuts. For example use J and K to scroll up and down through articles, S to mark with a star, T to tag, SHIFT-S to share, or E to email the article, to name a few I use the most.
Sharing is a great feature, which adds an article to your own feed. Your buddies can view that feed either from the Google Reader site, or you can add it to your blog or social network page using a RSS app.
Publish a new article with a single "SHIFT-Click", can it be done any faster? :)
Oversubscribe, choose as many feeds you are interested in, there are people that follow nearly 1000 feeds, daily :). Oversubscribing will also show you the information flow, you will realize where the article first appeared, and who picked it up later. Group them in subfolders, classify in areas of interest. Never read each article, use the â€œlist viewâ€ to scroll through the titles quickly, and only read those that matter to you. Read in two or more passes, in first pass just mark with a star articles you will read later. In second pass read the article, in third pass open the original page. Use tags to classify the article if you will need it later. Instead of mailing, or copy/pasting the article, simply use the share feature. When you are done mark all as read.
If you don't read news a lot, Google Reader will minimize time spent staying in touch with what's going on, you can simply subscribe to most popular from Yahoo news and Digg, go through them 5 minutes a day, and you'll be surprised how well informed you are all of the sudden.
If reading news is crucial to you, this will be a boost in your productivity, this technique greatly improves gathering of useful information.