Streamline Your Information Intake
Episode #5 of the course Streamline your life to have more time for what matters by Liz Huber
Today, you will learn how to consume information in the most time-efficient way.
Let’s start with analyzing your information consumption habits with these questions:
• What type of information do you consume (news, books, blogs, social media, videos, podcasts, TV, newsletters, etc.)?
• How much time do you spend on each type?
• Why are you consuming this information?
Be honest with yourself! Don’t be afraid to list reasons like “boredom” or “out of habit.” This realization will motivate you to cut out certain types of information entirely!
After you’ve analyzed your information consumption habits, you can use these suggestions to decide which type of information you want to keep vs. cut out:
Keep information that gives you joy, like fiction books, good movies, funny podcasts, and social media accounts that always put a smile on your face.
Ditch information that is irrelevant: You could classify any type of information as somehow useful, but is it really relevant for your personal or professional life at this moment? We often consume information “just in case,” because it sounds interesting or might be relevant at a later point in our lives. But the problem is: 1) We don’t know whether it will ever be relevant, and 2) if it does become relevant to us at a later point in life, we most certainly will have forgotten most of it and need to re-read it. Thus, ignore anything that is not directly relevant to your personal or professional situation right now and switch to consuming your information “just in time.”
Ditch information that is negative: Most news sites contain inherently negative information. Now, negative information can be important or critical for your job or personal life, but most times, it is outside your control. Reading about a civil war on the other side of the world changes nothing about the situation except your own mental state.
Here is how you can eliminate certain types of information from your life:
• Use a tool like Unroll.Me to mass-unsubscribe from newsletters you don’t want to receive anymore.
• Mass-unfollow people on social media, and unsubscribe from all irrelevant podcasts and YouTube channels.
• Use tools like StayFocusd and Freedom to block certain websites and apps while you are working (or always!).
• Simply delete your account on Facebook, Instagram, Netflix, etc.
Now, let’s look at optimizing anything you don’t want to eliminate. Here are a few tips:
Set specific rules for WHEN and for HOW LONG you are allowed to use certain websites and mobile apps (e.g., ten minutes after lunch for news and social media). Tools like StayFocusd can help you with limiting your time.
Subscribe to a daily email digest (e.g., the NYT Morning Briefing) instead of endlessly scrolling through news sites. You can also get a daily digest of all your newsletters with Unroll.Me.
Turn off all general notifications on social media, but specifically subscribe to updates from important people in your life.
Use a tool like Pocket to save articles to read later instead of getting distracted while working on something important.
Consume information faster. Learn to speed read, use tools like Blinkist to read book summaries, listen to podcasts on 2x speed, and read video transcripts instead of watching the whole thing.
Listen to podcasts and audiobooks while doing something else (commuting, cleaning, working out, etc.).
Create a categorized list of movies to watch and books to read to avoid mindlessly browsing on Netflix or Amazon to find your next pick.
Since most information is digital, there are countless ways to automate it. Here are examples:
Access information faster through widgets on your iPhone. Just swipe left to see the weather or upcoming calendar invites instead of opening the app.
Use IFTTT to automatically send you important information to the channel you are most active on during the day (e.g., Skype, Slack, or Facebook Messenger). Examples: stock price updates, breaking news from the New York Times, weather updates, etc.
Use IFTTT to automatically save important information to read later. Save popular NY Times articles to Pocket, get an email with new bestsellers, or save tweets with a certain hashtag.
Finally, if you want to outsource your information consumption, you can let your assistant process the information for you and give you a rundown (e.g., the most important news or your inbox).
Take Action Today: Cut out one unnecessary stream of information from your life!
Tomorrow, we’ll have a look at how you can apply the five-step process to communication.
How I Learned to Read 300% Faster in 20 Minutes
Why I Don’t Watch the News: The Low-Information Diet
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel Levitin
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