Wednesdays are simplicity days at SimpleProductivity blog.
It was a quote that got me thinking about it: “information is not knowledge.” I have so much information thrown at me every day, yet I feel like I learn little.
I had gone on a media fast a few years ago, but honestly, things have crept back up there. I started to check the news frequently, parse dozens of blogs and websites, read all sorts of magazines, just because I was afraid I would miss something.
My grandparents, and even my parents, never had to deal with this. There was the radio, of course, and the weekly newspaper. Few magazines were present, and they had no internet or television. And they were able to lead productive lives, without the drain of constant media in their lives.
As I thought about the reality of my ancestor’s existence, I realized something: I was deep in information overload.
Signs of Information Overload
I found, for myself, that my signs of information overload showed up in the following ways:
- I was spending hours each week reading Facebook
- I was reading the news at least three times a day
- I had expanded my news sources to include four out-of-country sources
- My blog reading list had expanded to the point where I was plowing through almost 2000 articles a week
- I was reading 4 (!) technical books at once
- I would stop in the break room at work to check out what was going on via the television
- My podcast subscription count was up over 20
- I was reading every linked article people emailed me…from my mother to strangers contacting me through the blog
The result was that I wasn’t taking anything in. I felt like I was drinking from a firehouse. As a serious introvert, I realized that not only do crowds of people drain my energy, but media drains my energy too.
The Media Diet
I had to do something.
I am not willing to give up the energy I have to things that have no value. I would rather be wholeheartedly present for a game of catch with my daughter than to be thinking about other things and get beaned by the ball (true story).
My solution was a media diet. Not a complete fast, as is recommended by a popular author. But a weeding out so that I could find a manageable solution for me.
It is not unlike a food diet. The goal of a food diet is to get yourself to eat healthful food in the right quantities.
The media diet means that I have to find the good sources, and the right quantities.
Where To Look
This is a very large undertaking. In the next few weeks, I will talk about how I pared back my consumption and right-sized what I was taking in. I will go through each area and tell you exactly what I did to get rid of the excess, and to find the quality that would give me what I needed.
In the next four weeks, I will be talking about:
- Online sources (RSS, websites, blogs)
- Newsletters and email lists (and organizing email in general)
- Print media (magazines and newspapers)
- Other media (television, radio, podcasts, DVRs and streaming)
It is possible. You can get your information back to the point where you are taking in what you need in the right doses.
Photo by faith goble. Licensed under Creative Commons.