Forget 24/7 news cycle.
Try 604,800 second news cycle (yes, that’s the number of seconds in a week).
Forget the 40-hour work week.
Try 168-hour work week. Oh, you don’t work the entire 168-hours in an average week, but if you work in an executive position anywhere that’s the number of hours you’re “on call.” You get breaks for sleep and sporadic off-time, but our devices are constantly being checked – during the kid’s soccer game, just before going to bed, and even – forgive us all! – while on the toilet.
The consequences of this work/life style are many. But one of them is a constant bombardment of media. Emails, alerts, status updates, tweets, RSS-feeds, text messages, etc.
It can often feel like standing in a hail storm without an umbrella as baseball size ice pellets batter your head.
So how can we cope?
Unfortunately, most of the filters we use are inadequate. Spam and unwanted content constantly breaks through. But here are some of the ways I try to filter my content.
Admittedly, I’ve lost control of my email. It’s easy to do because email is the authentication tool of the Internet. In order to sign up for anything, you need to give an email address. But when you do this you end up on every marketing and Spam list in existence and soon you’re being pelted with emails – everything from wine tastings to Living Social deals. So it’s easy to miss the important email from a client or a personal missive from a friend.
Here’s my plan for email. I’m abandoning my personal Gmail account, which I’ve had for many years. I’m going to keep it open and use it has my sign-in account. I’m going to open a second account for personal and business purposes only. I’m also getting wary of Google’s power over my digital life. Time to diversify and spread my digital footprint broader.
I use Twitter a lot, because it provides excellent filter tools. I use TweetDeck as my user interface and I’m able to categorize the people I follow into groups – Social Media, Journalists, New Outlets, Friends, Co-workers, etc… Each stream has its purpose. It makes it quite easy to scan each stream to get caught up on news, events and information. I still get sucked in to my main stream on occasion – but it gets more difficult to keep up with the constant flow of data. So I rely on my segmented streams.
Because I want to keep these streams up-to-date, I’m constantly tinkering and adjusting them. Right now I feel like they are optimized and as a result I rely more Twitter than almost any other source of information.
The ultimate filter – if you keep it for friends and family only – which I’ve been trying to do. Admittedly as Facebook becomes more of a primary communications device it will be difficult not to connect with everyone that wants to connect with you. So far, however, I’ve managed to limit it to people within my primary social circle – with some exceptions.
The challenge with Facebook is that its algorithm filters content for you. I don’t like that. I want to be in control of my stream – and design it to my liking. But right now I use Facebook as my true “social network.”
RSS is still such an under appreciated technology. I use RSS feeds – a lot. In fact, my iGoogle page is stacked with RSS feeds from my favorite news sources. I have different tabs on various topics: sports, social media, national news, politics, etc. My iGoogle page has become my personalized newspaper and, quite frankly, I’d be lost without them. RSS saves time, allows me to easily browse headlines, and only click through to a story when I’m interested in it.
How about you? Do you feel overwhelmed by content? Are you using different ways to filter your content to slow down the explosions of content happening all around you?