My alarm jolted me out of bed. I looked over at the clock which read 5am. Before my first yawn, I reached for my iPhone.
My eyes were still trying to focus as I did my best to discern the text in the messages. A few comments from yesterday’s post. Today’s GroupOn deal. Amazon’s mp3 albums of the week…
After I scanned my email, I saw notifications from Twitter and Facebook. I checked those and began to scroll through my streams to see what I missed in the 6 hours since I fell asleep.
I rolled out of bed and plopped in my computer chair. My Chrome browser was already open with Google Reader in a tab. It seemed to be waiting there patiently for me to return. I refreshed the page and began to look through 500 unread updates.
I hadn’t even brushed my teeth yet.
This was my daily morning routine for the past year. In my last post, I talked about how I decided to shift into a new rhythm of life and focus on my impending marriage. I had no idea how my life would change.
Each day I found a new way to scale back and simplify. In just over a week, my life has shifted dramatically by making a few simple changes.
The biggest change was my decision to scale back blogging. I only posted one blog last week but I’ve decided to post twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Maybe more if there are some guest posts involved.
I also decided to scale back my blog reading committment. I haven’t unsubscribed from any blogs yet but I’ve definitely held back on commenting on every one of them.
In the middle of all of this, I began reading “The 4 Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris (aff link). I’ve had this sitting on my shelf for months and I’ll admit that I was a bit skeptical. I’m about half way through it right now and I can say that it’s quickly becoming one of my favorite reads of the year.
Based on some of the tips from the book, I’ve decided to incorporate the following elements into my routine. Since doing this, I’ve added a tremendous amount of time to my day.
3 Easy Strategies To Fight Information Overload
- Turn Off Push Notifications – I went into the notification settings of my iPhone and turned off all push notifications. This includes Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, HeyTell and more. I found that push notifications were one of the main culprits that kept me distracted all day.
- Unsubscribe From Everything – I probably get 40 emails per day from subscription services. Everything from daily deals to product annoucements. My inbox was constantly filled with email I didn’t need. More often than not, important emails were buried under the barrage of notification emails. I took about 15 minutes one day and unsubscribed to all of those.
- Fetch Email Manually – This has by far been the number one time saver. I tend to get between 50-100 “personal” emails per day. My phone pushes them out as soon as they come in and like a trained monkey, I check them immediately without fail.
I went from checking email 40-50 times a day to about 4-5 times a day. It became a lot easier to check less frequently without my pocket constantly buzzing. I’m planning to schedule specific times during the day where I will go in and check email.
The other big productivity killer was the email alert in my browser. Even if I missed the notification on my phone, the browser was vigilant to buzz me and put an unread count up at the top-right. I killed that and magically freed up more time.
2 Productivity Tips
Now that I have more free time, I am determined to use it wisely. Here are two things I have incorporated into my routine.
- Stop Multi-tasking– Without the constant distractions of my phone, I decided to stop multi-tasking all together. I have constantly struggled to stay focused on one task. The multi-tasking myth really just made me feel busy while doing a bunch of things at half-potential. Since I now have less vying for my attention, it has been easier to get things done. I recently hopped on the Evernote bandwagon and I can attest to the fact that it is an ingenious little app. Rather than stop a task when I have an idea, I just jot it down in Evernote. I can write it, speak it or take a picture and then get back to what I was doing.
- Increase Quality of Information– Since I scaled back reading so many blogs and news sites per day, I decided to increase the quality of information I am consuming. This has given me more time to focus on my book reading goal for the year. When I have free time online, I have been devouring TED talks. Now I feel significantly smarter in 15 minute increments. I highly recommend that site.
Redeeming The Time
All my free time in the evenings goes to my fiancé. Because I’m not getting notifications every few minutes anymore, I’m also not getting the eye daggers for having my nose in my phone all evening either.
I’m limiting my online personality and redeeming my IRL personality. It feels healthier and I feel less demand on me.
My morning routine is much more simple and I have had time to focus on spending time with the Lord…and sleeping in every once in awhile.
I’ve minimized the amount of information I’m consuming and I’ve increased the quality. I’ve discredited the balance myth and I’m adapating to this new season. I found my rhythm and I’m loving the song.
Do you have any tips to fight information overload?