This is a challenge at all levels. Middle School. High School. University. Job. Career. Home.
1. There is simply a lot of information that you have to manage
2. There are so many ways that you can get (or be bombarded) with information.
3. It isn’t just about volume, it is also about prioritization.
I did an experiment for 2 days last week which I suggest that you try as well.
Day 1 – I dealt with all forms of incoming information as swiftly as I could. I mean every text, email, tweet, phone call, fax (do you still get them?), read feed, and whatever else came my way. By about noon, I’d lost count at about 900 items that I’d dealt with. Mostly emails and texts but a combination of just about all of them. And to be fair, some were responses to emails and texts that I had sent (I was trying to be productive after all!). By about 2 I just felt Intellectually sluggish. It wasn’t so much that I was overloaded, as I think we are all capable of handling this volume, but I felt that I wasn’t making progress somehow. In the name of science I stuck with it and by about 10pm when I closed up shop for the day I had estimated about 2000 pieces of info back and forth. Maybe digitized between the emails and web clips in Evernote and social media and so on.
Day 2 – the goal was simple. I have a goal for today (in this case to finish a particular chapter of my soon to be released book – Maximum Education.) I was going to only deal with incoming information that helped me to accomplish this goal. By 9am I had 190 emails in the inbox, but I’d only read 3.. 2 from editors and 1 from the publisher. I have 11 texts that all were thus far unanswered. Not even counting social media as a just ignored Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin… By noon when I broke for lunch, 371 emails and 19 texts. I had answered 7 total. The phone did ring 3 times.. all potential clients … so of course I took those calls… By 3pm.. chapter done, edits done and feeling accomplished. Tally: 752 emails, 28 text, 4216 tweets in the feed, indefinite facebook posts still ignored.
The ‘moral’ here is obvious. You get a lot more done when you focus on what you want to get done. I didn’t have to go whole hog in either direction to do that, and in this day and age, anyone who markets and thrives on the internet can’t go cold turkey for any length of time, but it is clear that not dealing with the background information and collateral and non-essential information is will increase productivity.
In the next post, I will present some hands on techniques to channel and funnel essential information to keep all of us productive and sane.
More tips at makethegrade and