Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Dealing With Information Overload

Here's what Paul Kedrosky does.
C-Beams Glittering Near Tannhauser Gate:
  • I guard my calendar jealously. I refuse to lose my day to prescheduled meetings, phone calls, etc. Sometimes I block large chunks, but mostly I just avoid synchronous activities that require me to be in a particular place at a particular time for preset duration.
  • I slot things. I used to dive into email all day long, but now I mostly do it in three burts: One is first thing in the morning, another is just before lunch, and another is at the end of the day. I also live by "inbox zero" every day, so everything is gone every day. I'm contemplating taking things down to two email slots a day. As  related aside, Google's Priority Inbox has helped me immensely, now that it's tuned to me. It not only elevated things I should respond to, but it also downgrades things I don't need to -- most of which I now junk.
  • My bigger attention fragmenter is twitter. I leave it on more than I should, mostly as a kind of information ambience about what is going on. I do, however, turn it off when I'm working on anything requiring sustained attention, like writing an article or paper, or doing some analysis. I throw things out on Twitter on a regular basis, even if some of it is automated, and I respond to many replies, but I'm trying to keep it from ruling me,
  • I do most of the writing on this site, or over at Bloomberg, first thing in the morning, or late in the day. I leave the middle of the day for things requiring sustained attention, plus whatever calls and other things I agreed to do.
  • I read more. I force myself to read long form, especially fiction, doubly so for more difficult fiction. Things that require sustained attention, a plot that must be followed, etc., are lovely for defragging my fragmented attention.
  • I respond to zero calls that I wasn't expecting. If my phone rings and it isn't on my calendar, I don't answer. It's that simple.
  • I use Google Voice, which turns my voicemails into emails. My voicemail message also warns people not to leave me voicemail messages, which helps keep down the din.

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