Low Information Diet = 1 Free Hour a Day

By getting rid of Twitter and embarking in a low information diet I was able to free up one hour a day.

I started reading blogs in 2003. It was quite a while ago. Technology was different, tools were different, blogs were different.

I recently found myself reading lots of unnecessary and repetitive information. If there was a press announcement, I ended up being exposed to it at least 5 to 10 times everyday between Twitter and Google Reader.

I usually dedicated 1hr30mins a day reading what turned out to be not useful or actionable information.

Heavily inspired by Tim Ferries and Leo Babauta, I decided to embark in some long overdue cleansing.

Twitter

As you may be aware I cut down on Twitter. i.e. no Twitter at all. I am not suggesting you take such extreme measures. However I felt that Twitter was not delivering value as it used to.

First step in downsizing info was to narrow down why I was using Twitter. These were the top 3 reasons:

a) Relationships/Networking.
b) Finding out about interesting events.
c) Discovering useful information and Serendipity.

How I am achieving these benefits with other tools?

a) I use LinkedIn for networking. I landed several jobs with it and I am loving the latest improvements. I have 11K contacts and founded a group of 20K. I am writing a book about it. Time to focus on where my community is, as opposed to where I want it to be.

b) I am discovering events with Lanyrd. It is powered by Twitter and it organises information in a more actionable way without the unnecessary ‘RT insert crap here’, ‘#whatever’, ‘@xyz I had a great time with you’.

c) I always thought that Google Reader was more serendipitous than Twitter. Blogs usually carry more in depth thinking than status updates. Nonetheless Google Reader was somehow not making it for me anymore.

Where was the problem then?

I have dedicated a lot of time in keeping my reading list organised and I have always opened Google Reader determined to read all the unread items.

This was not fair! Something must have gone wrong at some stage.

What did change lately is the pace at which blogs are releasing information. Mashable alone publishes about 40 posts a day. Very hard to keep up.

I found myself reading more than 900 items a day. I had a clear feeling this was not healthy.

Calories & Information

If the calories intake equals the amount of calories you burn, you are doing great. If otherwise, you gain weight (Intake > Burn) or lose weight (Intake < Burn).

Same goes with information. The Information Intake (II) should equal the action (A) resulting from that intake.

If II > A – your productivity decreases.

If II < A – you end up making uninformed decisions.

At times you may require more action over information to, say, build a website. Some other times you may prefer to gain more information to scope or plan projects.

In all other instances, you need to keep an healthy balance:

II=A

Time to diet

I need to stay on top of news in social media. It is what I do and most of my decisions depend on timely and accurate information. I can’t do without. I need to read what’s new.

However I needed to shift my balance to action. Next logical step was to skim down all my tech reading to:

TechMeme
– The Next Web – Social Media Category
– Silicon Alley Insider – 10 Things you need to know this morning category
ReadWriteWeb

I skimmed the marketing reading to:

Seth Godin
Lies Damned Lies and Statistics

I skimmed my isights reading to:

Springwise

That is about it.

By doing so I am reading an average of 150 relevant and timely items a day, which I can skim through in 20 minutes.

Since I was spending an hour and a half reading, I now enjoy 1hr10mins to dedicate to action.

This is my time of low information dieting where II < A and there will be a future time when I’ll go back to read more, but for the time being it feels good.

Photo Credits: Aracelota

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