Mondays are productivity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
I read an article about limiting options to make choices easier recently, and it got me thinking about filters. Filters are screens that weed out certain things. Sound and light filters remove certain frequencies. Furnace filters remove particulates from the air. And internal filters allow us to control what we take in and put out.
The Types of Internal Filters
It is easy to see that we can filter what information claims our attention. This is an inbound filter. But there is a second type of filter where we decide what information goes out. This is an outbound filter, and affects what other people learn from us.
Adjusting Your Inbound Filters
If we took in all the information thrown at us every day, we would be overwhelmed. We all have some internal filters in place naturally. We can concentrate on things to the exclusion of other input.
Most parents have internal filters. When my daughter is outside playing, I can tell the difference between fake crying and real crying, and also whether or not the child crying is mine. All without looking.
Internal filters need adjusting if we are taking in too much information. This may manifest itself as a feeling distraction, overwhelm, or in my case, just plain old jitters.
When my internal filters are breaking down, and I’m taking in too much information, I block things out. Sometimes this means I have to block them out using noise or music (see Top Essential Tools #3: Distraction Blockers). Sometimes it means I need to change physical location.
Adjusting Outbound Filters
Outbound filters pertain to how much information we give out. We’ve all met people with TMI syndrome (Too Much Information), and those who are so closed-mouthed it’s impossible to find out anything. Obviously, we can’t tell everyone everything. Some things should remain private. Yet at the same time, those who let nothing out miss interacting with people.
I have been practicing adding some filters to my outbound communication, because I am an introvert. And I’m introverted by Midwestern standards, which makes me very introverted by the rest of the country’s standards. It takes some practice, because I need to ask myself, can I add something thoughtful to the conversation? Is it helpful? Can I add something intelligent? Is it necessary (I don’t want to talk just to talk!)? Is it kind? And if I can find something that meets these criteria, I find I can add something meaningful and open up my outbound filter just a little bit more.
The same holds true as I write or email. So many people on the Internet let it all hang out. I’ve never been one of those, but I do find that I feel a need to open up.
Filters and Productivity
I bring this up because it seems that having adequate filters in place — both types — is essential to productivity. Let too much or too little information in, and you’re not working optimally. Let too much or too little out, and you’re going to be expending unnecessary energy.
Any thoughts on filters? What sort of things do you let in and out? Where are your boundaries?
Photo by – Jason W