Being productive online is a regular struggle for most of us. Some days I just feel like a slave to my interests. I have such a deep desire for knowledge, I am very curious and need to go and know deeper to fill these gaps in my interests. The online world is the world of infinite information and it just amplifies this knowledge need. There is always a new post ticking in my feed reader, there are several tweets in my Twitter feed every minute, several books ready to be read on my Kindle… the amount of interesting material is overwhelming and I never get a sense of completion browsing through it and consuming it all so I spend hours wasted on it and if I am not careful and aware of this I end up doing it quiet regularly.
Being curious is not necessary bad, but curiosity can seem like an addiction and this addiction just gets magnified by my attempts to feed it. In other words the sea of knowledge gets deeper as I go further into it. Some days it feels like I just tick one off the list and it’s over to the next one. Consuming all this information doesn’t necessary mean that I get the knowledge and end using it practically. Having access to and consuming all the information doesn’t make me smarter. Having all the facts doesn’t necessary mean that I have the understanding. Sometimes (or some days most of the time) I cannot even remember or recall too many facts about what I have read and that makes me wonder what the point was of spending time consuming it in the first place.
And that is definitely not the way to go as time is limited and I need to become more efficient with the way I spend my time.
Pause the input, focus on the output
To become productive I must pause the input as much as possible. I must get better at filtering the noise from the signal. This means that I must be more purposeful about the information I am consuming online. What is the intention with consuming a piece of content? What am I looking to get out of it?
Signal is the valuable part of the information, it’s the part I should listen to, the part I should note and learn from. Noise is just noise and there is too much of it online, all the random information that floats around on the web. More sites I bookmark, more feeds I subscribe to, more Twitter accounts I follow, more of this noise I get. More data (a high noise-to-signal ratio) also means more chance of overreaction to noise and more chance of mistaking the noise for signal. It is noise that I am supposed to forget, get rid of and ignore. It is useless for me and by removing it, filtering it and being more purposeful I can get more of the important signal to listen to.
So how do I remove the noise? It’s not only about getting better at curating the noise. It’s equally important to get on an information diet and ration the supply of new information. Remove some feeds, unsubscribe from some mailing lists and unfollow some Twitter users. I have to think about what do I get the most out of? What helps me the most to achieve the goals I have set for myself?
This might mean that I need to spend less time online, use less emails, switch off and take digital downtime regularly. I have to learn to let go of my curiosity need. I don’t need to feed it all the time. I don’t need to be afraid that I will be missing out. Following news, politics, or sports can be largely irrelevant to my daily life. Consuming it wastes a lot of time, and thinking about it makes me lose focus from important tasks and then I need to spend time refocusing after consuming news. By not consuming it at all I will not be missing anything relevant in my life and will be freeing a lot of time and energy. If it is such an important news story one way or another the information will get to me.
To become more productive I need to focus on the output. Constantly looking for inspiration can actually become anti-inspiring, can get me stuck and make me unproductive. I have to keep reminding myself to get into the habit of putting whatever appeals to me in my reading into practice. Taking action produces the appetite for more action and I actually get to try out things and see if they work. I may read or hear something that gives me an idea but that is not enough unless I take some action accordingly and apply it to my projects. When I apply ideas to my work they truly do become inspiring. I actually turn ideas into reality. I get to become an expert from experience.
Today is a productive day
Today is one of the productive days. Today I have decided to stop feeding my addiction to information and use my feelings behind it to produce a post that you are reading now. Here’s hoping to more time spent on the output and less time spent on the input. Here’s hoping to becoming a producer rather than a consumer of information. It is only this way that I will be able to get closer to my goals. Happy blogging!