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Productivity Tools for Investors 2.0

Exactly four years ago, I wrote about Productivity Tools for Investors. You can read it here. This post is an attempt to update it with new productivity habits I’ve picked up over the years.

After the demise of Google Reader which used to aggregate alerts & news items via RSS feeds, Feedly and other such tools have taken over that role. Although I’m not a huge fan of RSS anymore & you’ll know why soon. I’m still a devoted Evernote user which helps me remember stuff & organise it the way I want. I also use mind maps but I have found the softwares a bit cumbersome & the maps difficult to remember. So I went low-tech & now draw my mind maps by hand. I remember them much better. Updating them is a pain, but it was worth the effort. (But this works for me & may not for others).

Like a left handed backhand, tracking news has always been my weak point. I’ve still not figured out the most optimum way to browse through daily news. Many people tell me it’s a huge waste of attention span & should be completely ignored, but I suffer from withdrawal symptoms & need to phase out that habit slowly. Although I may have stumbled upon “a” solution. This technology is extremely good at aggregating rapidly flowing information but also an enormous time sink. 

If you’re smiling right now, you know I’m talking about Twitter. I was not a fan till last year. I didn’t even bother to explore it fully despite having an active account. I kept telling myself that it’s a fad & I am not going to get sucked in like I got with Google Reader. Meanwhile I watched from the sidelines as the company went public, read its IPO filing and became convinced that this is not something I see myself using for a long long time.

Then one fine day I accidentally opened the twitter app, because it’s shade of blue closely resembles the Skype app’s blue. I followed a few people at that point but I never missed their tweets, since they also shared stuff over email & Facebook (another platform I’m getting very tired of using these days). Almost as if an old muscle memory had been triggered my thumb started scrolling my twitter timeline. After 15 mins of scrolling I realised that in my excitement to use Twitter I had followed anything that came my way. After removing & muting a lot of my old followings I had the essential list & it was a delight to move through the timeline after that. So I decided to see what else I can meaningfully follow on Twitter. Let me remind you, this was the time when I used to physically read newspapers & actively browse through different online content regularly, but voluntarily.

These are some of the things I found worth following on Twitter:

    • Updates from Print Media & TV News Channels
    • Corporate Communication from Companies
    • Corporate Filings from Stock Exchanges
    • CEO’s & Promoters of different businesses
    • Influential bloggers
    • Journalists & Editors of Major News Networks
    • Other investors
    • Topical sites based on my personal preferences
    • Blogs that follow specific industries
  • Interesting discussions among twitter users

All this gives enormous power to the user to skim vast amount of data in a very short time. The keyword is “skim”. Twitter was perhaps never meant to be a platform for serious reading. It’s a nice way to catch up with short burst of activity from various sources. After using twitter regularly for just a few weeks, I began to see what an incredible platform they’ve created. It’s perhaps the best news aggregator I could have ever used. Although it is marred with repetitive tweets & doesn’t have all the content broadcast through it, it is still a very good starting point to keep in touch with news.

Perhaps the best feature of twitter as a news aggregator is the ability to follow trending topics & get multiple view points simultaneously. Although this has the GIGO (Garbage in Garbage Out) effect, a trained eye can spot relevant and non-relevant content easily.

That doesn’t say much about the time sink that twitter actually is. You can choose to be notified from favourite sources as soon as they tweet & turn your phone into a wind chime. Also twitter needs very highly evolved filtering skills to quickly move from tweet to tweet in order to get ahead in your timeline. Twitter also leads to a serious problem of filter bubble. It creates an attention fortress of our favourite sources and exhausts our ability to look anywhere else. So we are trapped within our own filters to seek news or other updates.

In the quest to stay current, attention usually gets sacrificed. I personally believe that twitter is a tool best used when you have a reasonable form of guilt control about not knowing everything in the world. As for everything else, we can always maintain a bookmarked list of sites we want to visit often & view them when we can’.

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1 Comment

  1. Bhaskar

    Thanks good article. Personally I use Google Alerts and RSS feeds of good blogs / newspapers. I use https://blogtrottr.com/ to get daily emails of the RSS feed. I take hard print out of interesting article, company news etc and stick them up in a file. Write down my investment rationale for my companies and update it as and when required with company progress etc.

    I am not a big fan of twitter exactly due to the reason you explained – its limited to 140 characters and “not meant for serious reading”. I feel twitter is good for traders/algo traders who need small bursts of news immediately. Also I found people boasting of their picks and promoting their stocks which I did’nt like.

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