Keeping it Simple

While listening to Merlin Mann’s pep-talk on the latest edition of the Inside the Net podcast (while shoveling snow, I might add), I decided to take a few immediate steps to reduce my information overload. I mentioned this problem back in October, but I can’t say that it’s gotten much better since then. So, here’s what I’ve done during the last couple of hours:

  • Pruned my RSS subscriptions in Bloglines down to 154 feeds. That’s down from about 220. And this time: no probation. I’m a hard ass, I know, but action was required.
  • Got my Gmail inbox back down to zero (as in “0”) messages
  • Cleaned up my podcast subscriptions and removed about 10 different episodes I just don’t have time to listen to
  • Removed a bunch of shows off the TiVo that I won’t ever watch
  • Got my physical inbox on our home desk back to empty
  • Cleared off the desktop (Casey will be happy about this one)
  • Input all of my loose index cards, notebooks, etc., into my main organizer: Backpack

It feels pretty good to see all of those items checked off my action lists. In particular, my Bloglines cleanup was way overdue. I was subscribed to many feeds that ate up too much attention, even if I only skimmed them. In fact, it got to the point where I almost dreaded opening up my new reader because all of the information was overwhelming me. While 150 RSS subscriptions is still a lot, it’s a good start for my quest of quality over quantity.

The new tools and technologies that can make our lives easier by pushing us audio, video, and text can easily become a burden if you don’t keep them under control. There’s only so much information and media a person can handle. More importantly, you don’t need to keep up on everything that’s going on. If it’s really important, you’ll hear about it sooner rather than later. Remember: this software and these gadgets are here to help, not make things harder!