A little while back I looked down at my RSS reader (yes, I still use RSS) and saw that after missing a weeks reading I had 200 or so items to read and most of the time I just skipped through them and read only a handful. Then I looked at the 12 or so podcast episodes waiting for me to read, the inbox badge shined red and I hadn’t even checked Twitter or Facebook.
It would be difficult if these had contained a mixture of great, okay, not so good blog posts and podcasts, but over the last few months I had started pruning the inputs into my life, especially in these two areas. As such, the vast majority of blog posts and podcasts are useful and relevant to me. And that’s the problem, I had too many great inputs.
The Problem with Information Overload
The stress of having unread messages was just a tiny problem in a much larger issue for me. Sure, it’s not great constantly feeling behind, but the real deeper issue was that I was being pushed into inaction. Imagine if I told you 100 ideas that would completely change your business. That might sound great, but in fact it’s terrible when you have 100 ideas, there is no way you can do them all so you end up either half implementing a few or implementing none.
That’s kind of what can happen everyday with the Internet. We get 100 amazing ideas (well, at least the headlines tell us they are amazing) and so there is no way we can implement them).
Then we can add in the adverts, the demands and the requests from all these different groups. Review sites and similar basically make money by making you feel like you need something new, the more of these you follow, the more you expose yourself to the message that you need something new and the harder it is to ignore.
Why It’s Better to Have Fewer Inputs
Having fewer, high quality inputs is brilliant because you will:
- Be able to digest and apply an idea.
- Not have to prioritize what ideas you should act on, instead just decide if it is a good idea or not.
- Have more time to act rather than consume information.
- Have few voices telling you what you should do.
- You will be able to listen to your brain more clearly and hear your good ideas.
- You will have more flexibility to do spontaneous activities.
Although you will miss out on some great ideas, I believe the benefit of having that extra margin.
A Few Simple Steps You Can Take
Here are a few really simple steps you can take to reduce the inputs and distractions from your internet life:
- Unsubscribe from email lists.
- Drop RSS, use a smart news service that selects what other people share [like Nuzzle, Apple News or Flipboard].
- Unsubscribe from RSS/podcast feeds.
- Set a limit on the number of podcasts you want to listen to, and then drop one or two more than that, now you have space to listen to a one off episode from a show you want to try out or to catch up when you get behind.
- Choose only 1 source for different aspects of your life. i.e One tech site, one Christian leadership site, one social media site, one site for your favorite sports team etc. Follow only those ones.
- Accept that you will miss out on some great things, be okay with that.
- Resolve to take action on ideas not just consume.
- Work out how much time you will save by doing less of something else, now assign that time for producing something.
- Shut your phone/computer off for a set amount of time.
- Use analogue tools, that don’t update.
- For every new item you add, remove one.
- Use airplane mode on your phone/tablet.
What Ideas Do You Have?
Those are just my ideas, but I know that the ChurchMag readers are clever folks and probably have much better ideas than I do.