How not to drown in irrelevance and stay on track

OK, here’s the scenario.  You’ve been away on leave and had a wonderful rest, recharging your batteries for the coming months.  Excellent.  You also did exactly the right thing and turned your emails and social media off so that you gave your brain a complete rest as well as your body.  Definitely excellent.  But now you’re back and you’ve switched everything back on and you are having to sort out the very small number of interesting/important/relevant messages from the deluge of news, advertising, and absolute rubbish that has landed while you have been away. 

I don’t think any of us really pay attention to the number of items that we automatically send to ‘trash’ in a day.  Our personal scan/review/trash filters work in overtime most days without us even noticing.  This ability to filter is incredibly important and one of the best mechanisms for protecting us from the ever-increasing ‘noise’ in our lives. 

However, it comes into direct conflict with possibly the best single piece of advice any coach or mentor can offer someone who wants to plan or enhance their personal future - and that is to read widely and read often.  I’ve written about this issue a couple of times (here and here) because it will always be a significant route to self-improvement.  There is a third and equally significant driver at work here and that is the need to stay up-to-date in a world where change happens in the blink of an eye.  Our need to stay informed about issues which are relevant to our personal and work lives is huge and can impact on our ability to plan and prepare wisely and in a timely way.

So how can you balance these contrasting needs – to prevent yourself drowning in irrelevant rubbish while ensuring that you can zoom in on items that could be helpful or, at the very least, informative?

The answer is really simple and doesn’t require any high-tech solutions except, perhaps, a clock or timer. Do these four things:

·     Make a decision that you will spend only 15/30/45 minutes a day reading what appears in your inboxes and scanning further afield and then decide what time of day you are going to do it.  Make it regular, make it a habit and you won’t be tempted to drift into the temptation to keep clicking again and again.  

·     Commit to reading something outside your comfort zone once in a while.  You will be amazed!

·     To reduce your stress levels, if you choose to read regular feeds from a particular source, avoid those built on headlines and hysteria, choose instead those based on fact and analysis.

·     Unsubscribe to anything you don’t need for a specific purpose.  You don’t have to feel guilty about deciding the content isn’t for you and the list owner won’t mind!

If you would like to chat about any personal, professional development or productivity issues you are having, then I’d love to help you so do give me a call.