I recently came across an interesting term – the information diet.
Are you too finding it hard to resist the constant flood of information that comes your way ? Clicking e-mail links ? Downloading free reports ? Watching videos online ? Reading “most read” lists ?
Tony Schwartz, CEO of the Energy Project and one of HBR’s most read bloggers found out you are not alone: “according to one study, we spend at least one-quarter of each waking day just trying to resist our desires — often unsuccessfully.”
Think about it – twenty-five percent of your day spent just trying to resist temptation ?
Only to give in anyway ?
But what if you could take temptation out of the equation altogether ?
Recently, I realized I was taking my love for learning a little too far. My iPad is full of new books, most of which are half read. I have a stack of white papers and special reports I saved “for later”. Like a squirrel hoarding acorns for the winter, I was hoarding bits of information “just in case”.
And over the years I accumulated a couple of dozen newsletters that arrive in my inbox every single day. Turning the trickle into a flood.
I used to think information was free (knowledge you had to pay for), but then realized something fundamental: it’s not. You pay for it with the most valuable thing of all: your time.
So I decided to do something about it – I went on an information diet. For the last week, I have been cutting back on affirmation-rich information carbohydrates.
At my last count, these five things combined save me between 10-20 minutes per day. Made me feel more in control. More focused. And less stressed about “all the stuff I have to keep up with”.
1. Created a “read later” bucket.
There are some people whose information I want, but that doesn’t mean I have to consume it right away. So I created a folder entitled “read later” with an automatic rule to send incoming e-mail (newsletters, blog posts, …) there. Funny thing ? I haven’t opened the folder even once since I created it. I’ll let you come to your own conclusions on that one.
2. Culled back on newsletter subscriptions.
Throughout the years, I have signed up for quite the collection of newsletters. Some I enjoy, but most I just deleted straight on. The problem is not that deleting takes too much time (about ten seconds per day or an hour per year), but the fact that sometimes I see something in auto-preview that captures my attention. And I’m off to the races.
3. Turned off auto-updates.
Default settings for social media tools and social networks are almost invariably set to sending you automatic updates. This week, I turned all of them off. One by one. Pop. Pop. Pop. Silence.
4. Uninstalled my RSS-reader.
RSS is great for keeping track of a particular topic or group you want to follow. But it can also be one of the biggest time wasters out there, especially if you love reading interesting, exciting new stuff.
Which is why I uninstalled my RSS-reader this week. I am sure they won’t even notice I’m gone.
5. Focused on the few.
I now have five authors, bloggers and “gurus” that I follow online. Five. Instead of 30+. And every time I want to follow a new one, I made a deal with myself that I have to stop following one of them.
In today’s world of ubiqitous, free information and content, if you’re not careful you’ll end up feeling like you’re drinking from a fire hose.
Closing the tap a little can help you stay focused, work on stuff that matters and maintain your sanity.