Productivity Tip #1: Don’t Read Any Content When It’s Published Unless It’s Urgent & Actionable

Time. We generally undervalue it, incorrectly estimate how we spend it and constantly wonder where it went. While avoiding meta-philosophies such as GTD, I do like mirco-experiments to help give me quick data on changes to workflows. “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule, Investor’s Schedule” covers this a bit but leaves out the single biggest win I found in second half of 2014: don’t read any content in realtime unless it’s urgent and actionable.

Whether it’s a misleading headline just begging you to click, a #HotTake blog post pinging around the social web or race-to-the-bottom app alerts lighting up your phone, chances are none of these distractions actually deserve your attention in the moment. But we race to read, respond and become part of the conversation. (I should probably give myself an asterisk here that rarely will a couple of hours go by where I don’t check my Twitter notifications stream to favorite/reply to folks. Work in progress I guess).

I’m still a pretty voracious consumer of URLs, it just happens differently now. I use Nuzzel (investor) to aggregate top links from across Twitter/Facebook – no longer worrying about missing something that’s hitting critical mass. Toss links from Nuzzel (and other great aggregation sources like MediaRedef) into Pocket. Reeder (running off of a Feedly backend) is where I capture all the sources where I don’t want to miss any posts (usually personal blogs or single source media sites). The best from here flow into Pocket as well.

Then, maybe once or twice a day if I’m taking a 15 minute break, I’ll leap into Pocket and read some articles, but more often I find uninterrupted time late at night, very early in morning or on weekends. And importantly to discard — if it doesn’t seem interesting to me now, no reason to spend any time on it. Not only do I find myself being more efficient but it’s more enjoyable because I’ve settled into reading and thinking mode, not just swipe, swipe, swipe. The best thing is that you also don’t need to pay attention to the clickbait or first-but-wrong news sites. Turns out if you wait a few hours the best reporting and analysis will rise to the top. Don’t reward shitty links with your clicks or attention.

So besides the Twitter caveat above, my other exceptions are TheSkimm (investor) which I read every morning as a news summary and several glances a day at Techmeme, which usually gives me a sense of what stories are important. I’ll also tend to read articles about the companies we’ve invested in as soon as I see them (but also save them for later to re-read).

Ok, a bit of navel gazing but I’ve had a few people ask me about how I seem to find/read so much. For me it’s aggregation and time delay.

One thought on “Productivity Tip #1: Don’t Read Any Content When It’s Published Unless It’s Urgent & Actionable

  1. Pingback: Has Blogging Reached a Fork in Road?

Comments are closed.