Cleaning out the information stream
During my recent holidays, I realized that I am not absorbing much of all the information that the internet constantly pours over me. Usually, I have several tabs open (mailboxes, news, social media sites, blogs,..) which continuously pour out information – and usually I can only scroll through and try to catch a few grains here and there. Still, it started taking me too much time, so I decided to do some major cleaning to start the year fresh.
Here’s a few information channels that got clogged up with random noise:
I seem to have a constant stream of newsletters flowing into my mailbox, from every possible store I’ve ever visited and every company I’ve ever used a service from. Usually, I just delete these message without even opening them – but it still generates a lot of mail. And it still triggers me to check my mailbox (too) often to see if there’s a new shiny thing in there. I now am opening every unwanted mail, and unsubscribing or marking these messages as spam (if it’s not possible to unsubscribe).
2. Blog subscriptions
After not reading my Google Reader for a week, I had almost 300 posts to weed through. I realized that some (even most) subscriptions did not match my current interest anymore. For a while, I followed a lot of fashion blogs, learning how to put together a nice outfit from cheap stores and thrift stores. I also followed frugality blogs for a while, to get my personal finance together. Then, I also followed exercise and nutrition blogs. For all of these, I reevaluated the situation. I now only kept the subscription to blogs of which I still enjoy reading almost every single post, and I am very thankful for everything I learned through blogs or categories of blogs which I am not actively following anymore.
With over 800 likes and over 500 friends, my facebook had turned into a museum of myself – and not a platform for interaction. I’ve significantly reduced the number of friends to people I genuinely interact with, and I’m working on reducing the number of likes. Hopefully, in a few months I’ll have a newsfeed without much noise in it again.
Likewise, my Twitter account was turning into an archive of past interests and memories. I’ve made some space in my following list, so I can focus again on the information I’m really after, and make some space for new ideas.
1. I have started to do the same with newsletters. Unsubscribed almost all of them.2. I like the Google Reader because it deletes anything older than a month. I usually have more than 1,000 unread items because I use it to subscribe blogs, newsletters and podcasts for my MP3 player. But whatever is old, automatically gets removed. If I miss something interesting, tough luck. There will be something else that is interesting as well, and my time is limited.3. I am happy that my Facebook account got deleted: http://andreasmoser.wordpress.com/2010/09/11/life-after-facebook/ I have so much more time again since.4. I refuse to do anything with Twitter.
Thanks for your input 🙂 I think I gained a lot of new ideas from avidly reading around on the internet, being in sponge-mode, but now I think I've absorbed enough information and can clear out a lot of noise to get back to the core.
Nice post Eva. There is a new book on this topic that I'd like to read at some point: http://www.informationdiet.com/I also wrote a blog about improving signal to noise a while back. It's probably nothing you haven't thought of, but it covers a bit of how I approach this:http://jbdeaton.com/2010/optimizing-signal-vs-noise-in-online-reading/
That book looks really interesting, thanks for pointing it out 🙂