Thursday, May 28, 2009

Input Overload

I haven't written a blog post in more than four months! Yes, just like everyone else in this day and age, I've been crazy busy. But I don't want to go on about that for three paragraphs. I've actually learned something over this hiatus, and I want to share that with you.

I'm a big proponent of reading and learning. As my craving for knowledge has increased over the last few years, I've realized that there's one thing I've been doing really poorly; managing my inputs. (By inputs, I really just mean sources of information, but I'm nerdy like that.) Think about the number of inputs one has nowadays: blogs, newspapers, books, articles, magazines, facebook, Twitter, text messages, voice mail, multiple email accounts, etc. For me, it's gotten to the point where these things have started to control my schedule. I realized this a while ago when I decided to give up reading newspapers, but that was only a tip of the iceberg. After taking a 10,000 ft. view of all this, I've come to this realization:


Now, I know I've talked a lot about books such as Getting Things Done, which are primarily based on queuing your work, but recently, my queues have started to erupt. Take a look at the number of unread items in my Reader:

Getting my inbox to empty everyday is also starting to take it's toll on me. And the number of unread books on my bookshelf just keeps increasing. Keeping up with Facebook hasn't gotten to me yet, but it's probably just a matter of time. I can't keep up!

Twitter is the latest social phenomenon, and I feel that its lack of queuing has been an important part of its success. It's very easy to keep up with Twitter, and that is something that everybody is yearning for nowadays.

So what's the solution to all this mess? Well, here are a few methods for managing/eliminating queues that I've come across through various sources:
  • Limit the amount of time you check email. You can even have set times during the day.
  • If you are reading something, and you're not enjoying it, put it away and move on to the next thing. Reading for personal development shouldn't be a chore.
  • Try to set up automated ways of shrinking queues. e.g. auto archiving your email after a short period of time (like two weeks)
  • Stop reading the newspaper :P
Sadly, I don't have much more than that. What are some things that you've done to eliminate or manage your input queues?