I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about ways to become more productive. I really want to reduce the clutter in my life (both the physical, and the mental) in order to be able to work smarter and use my time more effectively.
Ironically, it never occurred to me that I could just use my RSS reader to research a topic. Yes, I know that I could just do a simple Google search, but we all know how much junk one needs to trawl through before you find the one or two relevant pieces of information you actually need. And I already have a collection of 30-40 blogs whose authors I trust to provide relevant, high-quality content – I just didn’t think to use the search feature to quickly find what I’m looking for without having to manually visit each one (epic fail on my part!)
So a search for ‘productivity’ returned a handful of articles from the 1000-odd available in my RSS feeds. The first one that caught my eye was Simplify the Internet from Leo Babauta’s zenhabits blog (one of my all-time favourites!)
This post identified one of the major barriers to productivity that most (if not all) of us will experience: the ability to manage the sheer volume of information we can access on the internet without letting it overwhelm us.
Babauta’s core message is straightforward: simplify your use of the internet and let go of the need to consume every bit of information you come across.
There are a number of strategies outlined in the article, but in a nutshell:
- Reduce the number of social networks you use to 1-2 core sites, and use them infrequently
- Reduce the number of sources you read on a regular basis; scan them and save the articles you want to read with Instapaper (although I prefer Evernote’s Clearly plugin) and make time to read those articles without distractions
- Clear your inbox, process anything that needs actioning immediately (don’t double handle) and filter everything
- Don’t be afraid to let go of apps, tools, sources, etc.
While I certainly think there are some great ideas in this post, I’m not 100% convinced that one should implement all of them (especially if you want to work in the media industry, for example!) I think the most valuable advice is that you shouldn’t be afraid to let go of things; it is something that takes a bit of practice but, once you get used to it, it makes processing various information streams much, much easier.
Delving deeper into my RSS feeds, I found a number of articles that had varying degrees of relevance to the topic of productivity (I’ll list some at the bottom of this post, if you’re interested in reading more). What struck me as most interesting, however, was the speed at which I found all of this information. It’s clear that using RSS feeds is a very productive way to do research and use your time more effectively. It’s definitely something I’ll look to do more of in the future.