Tips to Get the Most Out of Pocket (Reader App)

How much time do you lose online daily from not having a good way to keep up with all the interesting articles you see or sites you want to check out? All too often, my impulse is to click through and learn more so that I don't lose the information. I might have followed social media to get to the article in the first place, so how will I ever find my way back (especially for someone who uses multiple browsers and devices)? I use Evernote extensively as a way to manage my information, but I'm not as thrilled with its interface when it comes to simply reading blog posts or articles I've saved. Instead, I use Pocket to manage my reading queue.

The Difference that Pocket Makes

Pocket doesn't allow for RSS subscriptions, which is a smart move. It distinguishes itself from Feedly and a slew of other services by forcing you to be more selective with what you will read in the app.

This allows you a few recommended ways to add material to Pocket.

And, as a bonus, you can also use IFTTT (If This, Then That) to tie sources to your reading. I use IFTTT for the blogs I read the most and then use Feedly for the rest. Check out the RSS to Pocket options in IFTTT for a quick way to tie together your reading.

IFTTT screenshot
IFTTT screenshot

Perhaps the best aspect of using IFTTT to manage these RSS subscriptions is that you can easily turn on and off recipes. I find that I will go through periods where I don't need as many tips on some business subjects, so I'll turn off my "subscriptions" to these blogs through IFTTT. But when I do need more information about those topics once again, I can quickly re-activate my subscriptions without having to try to remember which blogs I read in the first place.

How I Save Content Worth Remembering

For the articles that I find immediately actionable, I export them to Evernote. The export feature has improved dramatically in the past year, but it's not perfect. Formatting can be a bit wonky. Still, I'm able to make notes and set necessary reminders straight from my entry in Evernote.

If you don't treat Evernote as your central information point, then the Pocket subscription is worth it. According to the website, the additional search features in the premium plan make a big difference in the way that you're able to find articles you've already saved. I've never paid for the subscription plan as Evernote handles this aspect rather well, but I remember the search features being a drawback back when I first started using the app.

Tool Tip

As a quick aside, I've found that my reading queue is most effective when I remember to clear it out once a week. It helps me to pace myself as to how much material I should be placing into my reader. After all, if I can't get to the content within a week, I'm much more likely to let those articles sit there for months. Half of the time, those articles are no longer relevant by the time I get back to them.

The One Change I Would Like to See

Dear Pocket developers, please give me the ability to write in the margins for these posts and then export the content -- with my notes -- to my platform of choice. I often read a lot of articles that I think about how I would love to implement that strategy on my next project, but I have to remember to push the content over to Evernote before I can start my notes. That delay is enough time to lose some of my inspiration.

The Farnam Street blog had a recent post extolling the virtues of the margins in books, and I would make the same argument for all of the online content we read, as well. Making notes in what we read is a way that we can take the ideas that we see and help to adapt them to our own lives.

I Love Pocket

In short, Pocket is my most important tool when it comes to getting caught up on my reading. During a busy workday, I'll save an article that looks enticing to my Pocket queue. When things slow down (which might not be until the weekend), I'll grab my phone or tablet and read through the content that's been tugging at my brain all week. Sometimes, I use the text-to-speech feature and other times I do the reading myself. Either way, it's a fantastic, distraction-free way of catching up.

Have you tried Pocket, or do you have another reader that you like?

ToolkitMichael Roberts