Questioning what I need to know

Being effective. Being efficient. Staying excited about learning. Not drowning in a sea of irrelevant information. Gaining the freedom to spend my time how, where and with whom I want.  These are the issues currently swirling around my brain.

For the past few years, when someone suggested a newsletter, praised a web site or raved about a new tool – I was there.  I felt inadequate that I wasn’t scanning at least 40 or 50 sites via RSS and email.  My friendship count on Facebook and follower account on Twitter and and Second Life and Flickr was (and is) woeful compared to leading users.

I get up in the morning to the flow of information from ABC breakfast radio.  My husband and I listen to it on the way to work.

Once at work, it is not unusual for me to spend an hour a day on email – at least half of it in determining whether messages apply to me or not (about half don’t). I spend my lunch break scanning my RSS feeds or on news sites or on my “relaxation” sites – usually news or PostSecret (other people’s problems) or researching or making online purchases.

At home, I come home and set the email going – then check Twitter, then my Facebook, then Flickr, then might poke around Second Life while scanning all the blogs I follow and my own for any comments.  Oh, and I also belong to a few online groups.

My husband and I still haven’t started that home business that is going to free up our finances and our lives that we were going to start.  I probably couldn’t tell you about more than two of the news stories I heard yesterday morning.  Our last vacation was unsatisfying because we are incapable of exhaling and just chilling out.

My brain is tired and I feel constantly under pressure to know more.

No wonder – how am I going to think about or do anything that directly impacts my life when I’m doing such a grand job of keeping my brain busy with all that other stuff?

What’s important? Creating the sort of life I want. What sort of life do I want? I want freedom to explore the world in person.  To have my financial house in order and the ability to visit friends and family. To experience places and activities I’ve never been to or done before.

So, I’m going on a low-info diet for a while. I’m cutting back on fatty blogs, slashing my email accounts down to four (I had 8), limiting my Twittering, deleting all those podcasts I was going to get around to listening, switching off the morning news, ignoring the evening news and have asked all friends and family to not send any more chain mail or surveys.

At work, I’ve asked colleagues to send me their account details so I can find their groovy links that way. I’m taking myself off info lists, unsubscribing to newsletters and reviewing my own bad habits.  No more forwarding “interesting” or “must read” articles or news stories; that’s what my blog is for — people who give a damn what I think is interesting are already reading THAT.  No more meetings without agendas, clear objectives and asking people to submit position statements in advance if we are to debate or decide something.  No more meetings just to “catch up” when we could just exchange progress reports. My emails will be clearer and more concise as will my phone conversations and the conversations with people who drop by my desk.

It’s a lot of bad habits to undo and dropping out to get done, but I need to tackle my information gluttony if I have any hope of finding the brain food that will deliver the results I want. Wish me luck?

3 Replies to “Questioning what I need to know”

  • I find that the internet can be like the tv – many hours spent looking at the screen with not much accomplished in reality.
    Moving to the farm helped me realized how much energy I used to expend in the working world without any real life productivity being achieved and that now 24 hours on a tractor can feed the town i live in flour for a year – when it rains of course.
    It’s too easy at times to use the screen as an escape, a way to avoid the here and the now and all the tasks that need to be done – but I also know how that internet screen makes me feel closer to friends, family and the wider world.

    A paradox
    a paradox
    oh what a great big paradox.

  • Yup – I want to use the screen to make money and give myself the freedom to see people face to face. It’s knowing which interactions to keep and which ones to discard. I’ve unsubscribed from 50 newsletters in the past week and feel physically lighter!

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