Engagement is my theme for 2017. And, one of my sub themes is being conscious about how I engage with information. My goal has been to move from shallow consumption to deeper information consumption. And, I’ve learnt a few lessons over the past 3 weeks.
- Checking less. I’ve begun keeping tabs at the number of times I check my phone. I’ve been averaging around 10 times during the day and 6 times during my work day. My zero notifications initiative from a couple of years ago helps a ton. But, I suspect this is because I’m aware I’m counting. So, looking forward to the results of this experiment over the next couple of weeks. I try not to overdo my Seth post recommendations (you do read his blog, right?) – but, this one on Pavlov in your pocket resonated deeply.
- Batch process, batch process, batch process. Checking less enables us to batch process. And, batch processing helps us avoid regular task switching and the accompanying attention residue. This applies to both feeds and emails.
- Remove the stress from reading stuff you’ve subscribed to. I did a major pruning of my Feedly list in December – prime among that was removing a couple of sources like “FiveThirtyEight” and Venture Beat. Both of these used to have a constant stream of articles that used to add stress. Additionally, I needed a break from politics (hence FiveThirtyEight). My learning from this is that feeds that don’t make you happy shouldn’t be on your list. The results have been great – my feeds are largely a collection of blogs – and I love engaging with long form blog posts.
- More books. I’ve been thinking about ways to spend more of my time reading books. And, part of this is being flexible about formats. With a baby at home, it is important to be able to read books on a phone. :) And, yet, different books are suited to different formats. So, I’ve just tried surrounding myself with books across formats this new year. I have notes from 8 books currently on my devices (5 of them in active reading across Audible, Kindle app, and paperback) and I’ve enjoyed weaving through these. With less checking, I expect more time on these. Long may that continue.
Bad information processing can add to a lot more tiredness in our day. And, I’m enjoying the process of cutting out the noise and spending time on deeper content. The only exception I make is to football/soccer news. That is my not-guilty pleasure.
Of course, this is hardly the first post you’ll find on checking less, batch processing or reading more.
However, to learn and not to do is not to learn. And, I certainly expect to keep writing about this stuff until I really learn.