“How do you know all of this stuff?”

That’s a question I have been asked many times throughout my career. At the same time, it’s a question I have asked of others. We are all at some point on a continuum where we are hopefully a little smarter than yesterday but not as smart as we will be tomorrow.  Make no mistake…part of the recipe for success in your field is to be knowledgeable about what is trending.

Once upon a time, staying on top of what was important meant getting acquainted with the local library, reading the hallmark books in one’s field, and subscribing to major publications. Today, staying abreast of what is important is easier.

A Three-Pronged Approach

Google News

Google News is my one-stop shop for general news. On my homepage (igHome.com), one of my black bar links is set to Google News. While on the Google News page, clicking on the cog in the upper-right corner allows personalization of  the page. You are getting the type of information you want in the amount you want.

Look for a button on the right-hand side of the screen that says “Personalize.” Google News presents you with a list of topics (World, U.S., Business, Entertainment, Sports, etc.). Use the slider to tell Google if you would like to see more stories and fewer stories. As you mouse over the categories, click the trash can to eliminate a category.Feedly

You will also see a blank where you can add your own categories. Do you have a hobby? Regardless of how obscure you think your interests might be, add it to the list and your personalized Google News will include stories about it. You can even adjust the sources of your stories. Want to have more from CNN and less from FOX? Adjust the sliders and you can have it.

Google News also includes local news. Click “Change location” and enter a city or zip code.

Reading Google News in the morning gives me a broad overview of world, national, and local news. I also get information on sports, entertainment, technology, and the weather forecast.


While I follow quite a few people on Twitter, I have identified 68 whose content is so consistently good I don’t want to miss it. In Twitter, I created a list called “Inner Circle” and assigned those people to that list. Among them, I have included CNN Breaking News.

In Hootsuite, I created a stream for the “Inner Circle” list. Reading that one stream lets me know what people I respect think is important. If they are reading and tweeting about an article, I will generally click to check it out for myself. With CNN Breaking News, I know about the latest important stories as they happen.


The Internet is full of great blogs related to just about any topic imaginable. Once you identify a blog whose content you want to follow, there is no need to go to that blog on a regular basis. Use the power of RSS to bring all of that information to one place.

I use Feedly as my RSS aggregator. To learn about the concept of RSS and about Feedly, read this post from March 2013. Whenever I come across a blog good enough that I want to read its new content whenever produced, I add the URL to Feedly. I can forget about the blog. The new content goes to Feedly, so that I can look one place and see all of the new content from all of the blogs to which I have subscribed.

Technology is a moving target, but by subscribing to the top technology blogs, when anything significant happens, I know about it. I recommend Engadget, Lifehacker, PC World, PhoneScoop, and Tech Crunch. I am constantly learning about free resources new and old through Free Technology for Teachers. I enjoy though leaders such as Michael Hyatt, Seth Godin, and 99U.

For me, this three-pronged approach provides what I need without being overwhelming. I can access the material from anywhere and fine-tune the sources as need be.

How do you stay on top of what’s important?