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Productivity Now, Productivity Later

by Kerry Dawson

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Previously, I wrote very briefly, in the series I did on productivity, about one tool I found invaluable in a workflow, productivity model. The tool I specifically wrote about was Pocket and how it played a key role in allowing one to review important information but only when they had more time. I really did not emphasize the value of this kind of tool enough but it is extremely valuable. If you do not have a read-it-later tool the information might never get read due to time limitations in the present.

Although there are three big names in this category those being:

  • Instapaper
  • Pocket
  • Readablility

I‘m going to concentrate on only two of these tools which are my two personal favourites and they are:

  • Pocket
  • Readability

I’m not leaving Instapaper out for any good reason at all. It’s simply not a tool I’m familiar with. However, for the purposes of this discussion it’s most likely as good as either of the other two and serves the purpose needed.

Just not enough Time


The reason read-it-later tools are so valuable is often when coming across something useful there just isn’t enough time to read it at that point. However, the material is something that could prove very useful to the job at hand. Rather than it not getting read at all this is where the read-it-later tools come into play. You simply store the document for reading at a later point in time.

Storing the entire document for reading at another point in time has two particular values rather than just jotting it down as a todo item. With the whole document stored it is much easier to read the document rather than go searching for it. Second, both Pocket and Readability store just the content of the article getting rid of all the superfluous advertising and other stuff. This makes for a much nicer reading experience.

Pocket Everywhere

Pocket is one of my favourites although I have started using Readablity an awful lot of the time now. Pocket’s early appeal to me was two fold. It was available on the Mac, iPhone and the iPad. It also allowed you to easily store a web document to it from any environment.

The second thing that I really appreciated about Pocket was the third party support there was for the product. As an example, I love reading Zite a news aggregator. If I see something that looks interesting to read I can just put it into pocket. I might do this from my Mac however, I generally read from my iPad. The other nice thing about Pocket is that information, if you want to store it for a long time can be stored in Pocket’s archives or better still the article can be sent off to Evernote, email and a variety of other services.

Readability is taking over as My Favourite

Readability is one of those apps that just quietly grew on me almost by accident. I came across it as it would take something I was reading in the here and now and convert it to readable text so that nothing got in the way of the article. It converted documents fast and it was a delight to read things in Readability.

I noticed there were two buttons. Read now and read later. I downloaded the IOS apps and I quickly discovered probably my favourite read-it-later app. I was able to take my documents and read them later. Then I noticed that documents I thought I was only converting to read now were also in my read later programs. As with Pocket, the one thing this app does is lay out the article so nicely for reading without all the paraphernalia you get on the web.

The one downside of Readability is it doesn’t support third party products. It supports many internal functions such as archiving and favouriting but not the external functions I’ve gotten so used to in Pocket.

It’s kind of a toss up between these two apps but as I mentioned a converted document that I start reading now is in Readability to read later. This is powerful. I at the same time love just being able to send an article off to others as I do in Pocket.

The Benefit is in the Productivity

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Regardless of which product you use, the benefit here is the productivity gain you achieve. No longer do you miss as many articles to read as you just can’t read them in the moment. Used as part of your workflow and the model you follow the gain is tremendous. In terms of the “Getting Things Done” model by David Allen, there is always a spot for what he refers to as deferral to another moment. All with good reason. Things need to get done and the more you’re able to accomplish, given the right moment, the more productive and capable you are overall.

In the workflow series I did, I drew on David Allen’s Getting things Done model extensively as it is the model I use. As part of the model, your trusted system is imperative so that you can let things go to the system and not let your mind get bogged down in what needs to get done. I did highlight the role of read-it-later products. However, in hindsight I should have emphasized them much more extensively. They are truly valuable in ensuring the right things get read in their right time with its greatest benefit for you.

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