Reddit’s just a huge timesink, right? Wrong. It’s an endless supply of relevant information, if you know where to look.
Submitting and voting on content, constantly, Reddit’s massive hivemind organizes a staggering amount of info. Combine this with the way Reddit is organized – the site is made up of thousands of communities discussing particular topics – and you can use the site to learn about almost anything. This can be useful for your job, personal life and hobbies – if you look in the right places.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t ever just browse Reddit for fun – if that helps you relax, great! But if you’re the kind of person who’s worried about maintaining a good information diet, you might be hesitant to check out a site known for its memes and cat pictures. That’s not fair: like most social sites, Reddit is entirely what you make of it.
Subscribe to memes, and you’ll get memes; subscribe to something productive, and you’ll get something productive. Here’s how to cut the crap and use Reddit to reach your self improvement goals.
Unsubscribe From Time Sinks
If you use Reddit, and you don’t have an account, you’re using Reddit wrong. Yes, checking out the front page from time to time can be fun, but you won’t have control over what you do and don’t see on the site until you sign up.
So get an account, if you don’t have one. Then head over to the my subreddits section on Reddit and clean things up. No, seriously: if something doesn’t look useful, get rid of it.
It might be hard to remove fun things, but if you plan on using Reddit productively you don’t want distractions mixed into your front page.
If you still want to look at distracting subreddits from time to time, browse to them directly during the time you’ve set aside as your break. If that doesn’t work for you, use two Reddit accounts: one for productive stuff, another for fun. Only use the fun one after work, or during breaks – during work hours, Reddit is for research.
Find Productive Subreddits
Now it’s time to replace the fluff with useful stuff. Obviously what’s actually useful to you depends on what you do for a living, or what personal goals you have for yourself.
- r/GetMotivated offers all sorts of motivational material, if you like that sort of thing.
- r/Entrepreneur is full of tips and information for anyone starting their own business.
- r/Frugal has a lot of great money saving tips (and some silly ones).
- r/DIY outlines tons of do-it-yourself projects.
This is just a starting point, of course: the most productive subreddits you can find are the ones relevant to your job and hobbies. You should use the subreddit search to find hidden communities with compiled resources and discussions around your work and hobbies. You can also check out Reddit Metrics, a guide to fast-growing communities – some of them may become useful to you.
Subscribe to useful information and you’ll be amazed how useful Reddit can become.
Find The Best All Time Posts
Not everyone realizes it, but you can sort Reddit posts in different ways. The default is to show you what’s “Hot”, meaning posts that are popular or rising right now – but you can instead see only the “Top” posts for the current day, week, month or even year.
You can even see the top posts of all time, which can be insanely useful. Let’s say you want to browse only the software r/MacApps deems best. Head to that subreddit, click the “Top” tab, then use the “Links from” menu at top-right to see the all time best posts:
Now you’ve got a list of the most popular software this subreddit has even linked to. It’s a great way to get a quick overview of a variety of topics, so keep it in mind the next time you’re looking for something specific.
Use RSS Instead Of The Site Itself
Finding subreddits in your category is great, but what if you’re not a regular Reddit user? And what if you’re simply afraid that any time spent on Reddit will eventually become a timesink?
There’s a solution: you can add particular subreddits to your RSS reader of choice. All you need to do is add “.rss” to the end of a subreddit. For example:
Of course, doing this is going to be like drinking from a fire hose. For a more limited selection, I recommend using only the “Top” results:
These RSS feeds are very useful if you want to keep up with the best posts from around the web, but don’t want to head to Reddit itself to do so.
You can also get RSS feeds of your inbox, links you’ve liked or even your personal front page. Just head to the feeds preference page on Reddit, seen above.
Use The Right Tools
Reddit’s website is, shall we say, limited. If you want advanced features like keyboard shortcuts and the ability to subscribe to particular threads, you should really install the Reddit Enhancement Suite (sometimes called RES by users), is a key tool for using Reddit like a boss. It adds all sorts of functionality to Reddit, and works with all major browsers.
But if you prefer desktop clients to websites, I’d recommend Reditr (pictured above). This desktop app for Windows, Mac and Linux lets you browse your subreddits in Tweetdeck-style columns, giving you a quick glance at a variety of topics. It’s probably better for productive use than Reddit’s streaming interface, so give it a shot and see how it works for you.
How Do You Use Reddit Productively?
So these are a few tips, but we want to know: how do you use Reddit to learn and get things done? What are your favourite subreddits? Let’s keep this conversation going in the comments, okay?
Oh, and if you need an outline of how Reddit works, check out our Reddit manual. It’s not productivity-focused, but it does outline the functionality of the site if you’re confused.
Image Credits: 3d man with a watch Via Shutterstock