I try to work when I’m meant to be working and relax when I’m meant to be relaxing. Often though when I’m surfing the web during work time looking for work-related information I come across links and pages that are of personal interest to me.
And then of course it works the other way round as well. When I’m relaxing I see tweets or blog posts or items in my RSS feeds that are of interest for my work.
Save links for later reading
In the interests of efficiency I like to save these links and items to read at more appropriate times.
There are two excellent free online services that make this easy. I use both — one for work and one for personal items to help keep them clearly separated. Both services are superb.
Instapaper is a free web service that saves links:
A simple tool to save web pages for reading later. It has an app for your iPad too.
Read It Later
Read It Later is similar to Instapaper:
One reading list, everywhere you are. Again, it’s a free online service that saves a list of links for later reading, and there’s an app for iOS devices.
How they work
Both services offer a bookmarklet for your web browser. Install the bookmarklet as they instruct and it shows up in the Toolbar of your web browser. See information for the Read It Later tools and for Instapaper tools.
Then when you visit a web page and decide you’d rather add it to your later reading list just click on the appropriate bookmark in the web browser Toolbar.
Provided you haven’t scrolled down the page you’ll see a small semi-transparent window appear over part of the page, with a message that the link is being saved.
RSS feeds and Twitter
Bookmarklets work fine if you’re using a web browser, but if you’re reading Twitter or RSS feeds, then what? Well, if you pick your Twitter client and RSS reader software carefully you may just find that they have a menu item or button to send items to Instapaper or Read It Later, or both.
Read saved items
Each service accumulates the items you save into a list. To read items either log in at the web page or use the applications for devices such as the iPad, Blackberry or Kindle.
I find it very satisfying that I can easily save items to read later at my leisure. My iPad is a boon here: I now often catch up on these items at times and in places where a desktop or laptop computer just isn’t convenient, such as in bed, on the deck in the sun, or while waiting for the bus or an appointment.
Whether you have a smartphone or tablet or just a regular computer, try out Read It Later and Instapaper and see what they can do for your reading.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, November 2010. This article has been modified for publication here.