Pocket and Instapaper ain’t cutting it anymore.
Being in news means I probably save more articles than the average user. I’m always throwing something into my Pocket app for future reference or a follow-up. But I’d be willing to bet I don’t save much more than a typical web hoarder. Apps that allow you to save links have become the go-to method of giving yourself permission to close the tab, and we all have too many tabs.
The problem is that my Pocket is now a total mess that fills up with 70 or more items a day. It’s only slightly more useful for reminding myself about something than just going through my browser history. That doesn’t mean I want to cut the cord on Pocket—you would have to pry it from my cold, dead hands. There are so, so many important things in that app that I will never get around to looking at again.
The fact is, there’s too much news and that little Pocket plugin’s icon is just sitting there at the top of my browser or at the bottom of a tweet begging me to click it and free myself. I will never get past the latest hell news from Washington, a neat update of the Netherlands’ train cars, nor the latest security incident before arriving at that deep dive on the historical relationship between George Washington and Native Americans. Mixed in with everything, there’s that guide to the Mathematics of Public Key Cryptography that I will never force myself to read and that video of a French Bulldog playing with a balloon that I’ll probably try to find once a week.
I could get additional apps and give them separate purposes, but I don’t want to and I’m lazy. But a couple of weeks ago, fate intervened. I was trying to save an article in the Chrome browser on my iPhone and did the usual process of clicking the share icon and selecting the Pocket app. But I accidentally clicked the “Read Later” option, and let me tell you: The little haptic feedback ping is one of the most satisfying I’ve ever felt.
Seriously, if you use Chrome, try it right now. Pick up your phone, open Chrome, click share, and choose “Read Later.” Feels nice, right? Hits my pleasure centers in just the right ways. And like an apple falling on Newton’s head, it told me that I should be using this function.
Basically, I’ve started mindfully using Read Later as the destination for long reads that I really intend to get back to. If I’m using a desktop browser, I have to send my self the link and open it in mobile, then save it. Right now, there are three items on the list. In the last two weeks, I’ve gotten around to reading a 4,000-word piece about the coming AI dystopia, a 6,000-word overview on the Constitution, and a 7,000-word profile of Lamaleran whalers.
Chrome is by far the most popular browser, but Safari, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge all have their own reading list features. Unfortunately, I’ve tested them all, and only Chrome has that rewarding ping.
This is just a small little system I’ve set up for myself that will continue to work until I get all disorganized and overwhelmed again, but I highly recommend it.