Information overload

It occurred to me today that I consume a lot of information. Too much information. All those productivity blog posts that talk about anxiety from the little red notification badges? That’s where I am right now (as my ability to reference such blog posts should tell you). I’ve decided to take control of my information consumption habits, with the following goals in mind:

  1. Maximizing the signal to noise ratio. It’s 2012; I should be reading/hearing only what’s relevant to me.
  2. Spending less time consuming and more time thinking. I’m finally accepting that there’s just too much information out there for me to process, even after it’s completely filtered, and spending more time consuming means less time thinking, doing and creating.

Here are the top three actions I’m taking to work toward these goals.

  1. Unsubscribe from all email newsletters and notifications. I’m adopting a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to email newsletters and notifications. In lieu of relying on email for relatively unimportant notifications from services like Facebook and Twitter, I’ve decided to put my trust in Apple’s push notification system.
  2. Trust the experts. I spend a lot of time working through feeds in Google Reader every day. I’ve become pretty efficient when it comes to choosing the articles I think are most interesting or relevant to me. But for some people, separating out the best articles from the rest is a full-time job. When it comes to many sources of information, I’m willing to trust those people to do the filtering for me.
  3. Return to long-form reading. I spend a lot of time reading, but it’s usually blog posts from RSS feeds, and I usually spend no more than five or ten minutes reading at any given time. For many of the topics I’d love to learn more about, that’s simply not going to be enough. I have stacks of novels and non-fiction books at home that I’m itching to spend some time with.

The epiphany I had today is that just reading (or listening, or otherwise “getting”) information is not, in and of itself, productive or fulfilling. I’m hoping that realization will serve me well going forward.