Shrinking the Firehose

Fire HoseAs part of my attempt to focus my effort on the more important tasks I have on my todo list, I’ve decided to start carving away at some tasks that eat away at either my time or my attention. The largest two areas that I found I could chip away at without sacrificing time on work or my family were the podcasts I listen to and the RSS feeds that I read. So, I took an initial pass through both and ended up with the following:

  • I eliminated 7 of the 21 podcasts I listen to/watch. (33.3% reduction)
  • I eliminated 6 of the 24 RSS feeds that I scour each day. (25% reduction)

I use the podcasts and RSS feeds to which I subscribe to gather information and stay of top of technology, business and local news. What I found as I was going through my various feeds is that I had a few sites and podcasts that presented me with more or less the same news. So, in the spirit of the 80/20 rule that I talked about a few days back, I started eliminating some of the less productive 80%.  That would allow me to focus more on the 20% of the news sources I use that present me with 80% of the useful information I see every day. Plus, it should release some valuable time for more important tasks.

Obviously, I wasn’t as brutal as to cut out 80% of the news and try to end up with only 20% of it left. But I did cut more than 25% of my total news from the less productive sources I aggregated while only losing maybe 1-2% of the useful information. So, in other words, a pretty efficient culling of news sources and one I’ll continue to tweak over time.

As a further part of my effort to trim less useful information, I unsubscribed from many email lists as their emails appeared in my mailbox. I forgot to keep track of exactly how many I unsubscribed from, but it was well over a dozen. As I receive more emails, I’ll keep trimming more out. I also turned off notifications for at least a couple dozen apps on my iPhone and iPad. I usually deny those when they ask to be turned on, but apparently a few snuck through.

While I don’t feel like I’ve eliminated distractions, I’ve definitely taken a bite out of it. I’m almost ready to turn to next week’s area of focus, which I’ll select tomorrow to start working on Sunday.

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