Take control of your inbox and time

Recently, I asked a group of people what sources of information cause them to feel overloaded. I’m sure we’ve only scratched the surface here.

How many of these sources are on your list?

Email newsletters are commonly saved to read later and then clog up the inbox.

Videos with business advice received from email newsletter subscriptions are saved to watch later.

Videos that look funny or interesting on social media sites are easy to get sucked into as a break from work.

Blog posts to read on every personal and business topic you can dream up seem to stack up.

Health product and food warning posts. It’s hard to resist reading, “Seven Foods That Will Make You Fat” or “Six Toxic Chemicals You’re Eating Daily.” What are they? We must know.

Podcasts promise entertainment or advice on marketing your business or improving productivity.

Free teleseminars are jam-packed with the latest business tips, tricks and advice to dial into.

Never-ending stacks of books, e-books, literature, and articles sit in piles-unread.

We are living in an amazing time with technology, endless resources and ease of access to information.

This can quickly become a problem in relation to productivity. I believe if we allowed ourselves, we could literally sit all day focusing solely on the examples I shared and not do a stitch of real work.

I am referring to work that has a positive impact on the bottom line of our businesses in the way of generating income, saving money or creating products.

How do we receive the information we want and need while keeping a balance and not burning the midnight oil take it all in?

I’ll address how to deal with the main sources of information next.

  • By invitation only. Your time is valuable and you’re in control of what you allow into your life, including email newsletters, subscriptions, videos, and podcasts. If you signed up for a daily email because you wanted to receive a free report, that’s OK. But if the emails that land in your inbox daily are not interesting or valuable, you get to unsubscribe. Make sure you only invite and allow valuable tools, resources and information into your inbox. You don’t have time for anything less.
  • Make quick decisions. Recently, I read an article on productivity that included the tip of making a decision in 10 seconds or less or someone else will make the decision for you. Now, that may be a bit drastic, but I like where that’s going. Of course there are many instances when we really do need to mull something over and take time to weigh out the pros and cons before moving forward. But, how many times have you put off something simple like reading an article or listening to a webinar? If you do that enough times, you will end up with an overwhelming amount of information to review. Many people just shut down and don’t make a decision and that’s why I hear about people with thousands of emails in their inbox. Make quick decisions about the information you will allow to use up your time and energy. If you start a book, video series or teleseminar that stinks, close it, delete it or shut it down. You’re the boss of your inbox and the information you consume.
  • Read efficiently. When you’re busy, it can be daunting to face a stack of books on your desk or your nightstand. If you don’t have time to sit down and read a book, but you still want access to the content, consider these alternatives: Getabstract.com is a great site with thousands of business book titles and summaries to choose from. You choose the title and select the downloadable format of your choice. From there, you’ll receive a book summary of the key ideas that will take 10 minutes to digest. Audible.com is an Amazon company with a multitude of book categories, including business and self development. You don’t have to sit down and focus on reading, you can listen to books from your computer or the app. Listening to a chapter or two while you’re on the go in the car or on a walk, is a great way to combine two activities effectively.
  • Put it in your pocket. I love this one. When you come across articles, videos or anything else you’d like to take a look at later, you can put it in your ‘Pocket’ on getpocket.com. When you’re ready to get back to what you were interested in, you can view the information from your computer, phone or tablet. Remember, once you go back to review what you saved, you can always delete the information if it isn’t serving you well.

Let’s celebrate the resources that we have at our fingertips without letting facts and data become an overwhelming beast.

Keep the volume manageable so you can benefit from new ideas today and not lose them due to information overload tomorrow.

Monika Kristofferson is a professional organizer and productivity consultant who owns Efficient Organization NW in Lake Stevens. Reach her at 425-220-8905 or monika@efficientorganizationnw.com.

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