Every day I find several longish articles, from the blog feeds I subscribe to or through Twitter or just browsing Medium, which sound really interesting but are too much of a time investment to read right at that second. For ages I’d just save bookmarks with the intention to read later, then completely forget about them. Does that sound familiar?
That coupled with the fact that used to frequently run out of data on the long train trips to and from work, had me searching for a way to read these longer articles offline. I did end up finding Readability (designed by the much venerated design team of teehan+lax), but it wasn’t until I started integrating it into other systems I use that it really clicked for me. For the unfamiliar, services like Readbility, Pocket and Instapaper allow you to save content to read offline, stripping out everything that isn’t content and formatting it beautifully for distraction-free reading. There’s a good comparison between the various ones over on Lifehacker, but I think the key is how you integrate it into everything else.
This is going to get a little nerdy, but stick with me.
Since it’s a pain to switch between applications on the iPhone or iPad, I’m usually too lazy to copy the link, open the Readability app, then paste it in there to save for later. Enter IFTTT, short for ‘If This Then That’. IFTTT integrates with an array of social networks and apps (channels), and allows you to set an action on one channel to trigger another action.
So for reading – I have mine set up to add the editor’s pick articles from Medium.com, links from my favourited tweets on Twitter, and bookmarks from Feedly. These all get put onto my Readability reading list, so when I’m on a bus ride I can flick through and see which one I want to read.
Like with any new process, I worry that adding another thing to keep track of is adding unnecessary clutter to my life, but I’ve found myself now reading well-written articles when I would otherwise be scrolling through Facebook. And that can’t be a bad thing.