How do you deal with all the interesting information we now have available to us on the Internet, from international news to updates on the lives of an acquaintance’s children? There are numerous ways to tackle this flow of information you want to consume in a way so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
Chris Miller explored this topic:
Sooner or later you have to sit down and say:
- My time and attention are the most valuable things I posses.
- There is too much stuff on the Internet for me ever to read it all.
- Therefore, I’m going to be super-choosy about what I read and what I do.
Where are the places you may want to be super-choosy?
Are you trying to be active on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter? Maybe it would help to focus on just a few that best meet your business and/or personal needs.
Within each community, are you engaged with too many people? Are you friends with people on Facebook who you can’t even place? Are you following thousands of people on Twitter? Maybe it’s time to prune the lists.
Have you used whatever filtering tools are available? For example, I use TweetDeck to read Twitter, and I have filters set up to hide any tweets mentioning specific TV shows that tend to get mentioned a lot, and which I just don’t care about.
People who do this type of cleanup often comment on how much better they felt afterward. Kelly O. Sullivan recently wrote: “Unfriended someone on Facebook who was adding no value to my life. Feels good.” And Dennis K. Berman wrote a whole blog post titled “The Purge: I Unfollowed 390 People on Twitter, and I Feel Great.”
If you use RSS to read blogs and other news sources, have you evaluated what you’re reading lately? Maybe it’s time to delete some of those subscriptions.
I just deleted a subscription to the blog of an acclaimed writer, whose articles I found myself skipping over when they appeared in my list. He may indeed be writing wonderful stuff, but it just wasn’t stuff I felt like reading. I had to get over my own case of the “shoulds” — the internal voices telling me I should read his work — and decide it was perfectly okay to decide not to read it.
Do you tend to ignore these when they hit your inbox? Have you created an email rule to move them to their own mail folder — where they languish, unread? Maybe it’s time to do some unsubscribing.
News and magazine apps
Did you download a bunch of these at some point — only to find you don’t use most of them? This is another area where you might do some cleanup.
Pocket, Instapaper, and other read-it-later tools
Kevin Fox commented on Twitter: “My Instapaper button would be more accurately titled ‘Read it Never.'”
Are you like Kevin? Do you have lots of articles you’ve saved to read later — that you never seem to get to? You may want to review that reading list and see which ones you still want to make time to read, and which you can just delete.
But some people are fine with a long list, and you might be, too. Om Malik spoke to Nate Weiner of Pocket, who noted that people go back to read 10-70 percent of the articles they put into Pocket, with the average being 50 percent. But Weiner went on to add:
The key is to think of it like a Netflix queue. You are never overwhelmed or concerned about the number of items in your Netflix queue. You just keep putting things in there because you know that when you have the time to view something, you can guarantee you’ll have something great in there that you’ve been meaning to check out.
Maybe you don’t need to clean up your saved-for-later reading list — or your RSS feeds, your email newsletters, or your apps. Or maybe you just want to do some limited cleanup. Do you like having a large number of items to choose from when you have some reading time, or does having such a large collection overwhelm you? The answer to that question will help you determine your strategy.
But whether you keep your reading list short, or keep it long (knowing you’ll never read it all), you’ll still need to be super-choosy about what you eventually spend time reading. Because this wish from M.S. Bellows, Jr. probably isn’t going to come true: “I want to be reincarnated in a way that preserves all my bookmarks, pockets, and favorites, so I can spend 80 years simply reading.”