Author, Speaker, Addiction & Relinquishment Consultant, Relinquishee, Adoptee, MPE

Cutting Out the Bull: Information Overload and Productivity

As a business coach and consultant I have to be a resource to my clients and I am.  I have my TV and radio turned off and have instead learned to watch news online.  I’ve implemented the use of feed readers and email filters.  If you would like some more ideas on how to eliminate some of those useless items in your day check out Slow Leadership’s post Keys to Saving Time.

As a business coach and consultant, I believe in transparency, honesty, and authenticity. So here goes …

I don’t watch the news.

Yes, there was a time in my life when my livelihood depended on the instantaneous flow of information. Whoever had it first usually came out on top. Back in the trading pits at the Chicago Board Options Exchange my eyes were constantly shifting from the computer-generated pricing sheets in my hands to the rows and rows of screens displaying financial data from around the world to the hundreds of other brokers and traders in the pit around me. I had a phone in one ear and was listening to the constant screaming or my clerks with the other. When I wasn’t in the pits, I was watching live coverage of foreign markets or viewing every financial show on the air.

Is that why I’m averse to it now? I can tell you that after spending 10 years in that environment getting shoved and spat upon and bearing witness to many things unmentionable, I still avoid loud places – rock concerts, sporting events, movie theaters, and even large halls (weddings, large conventions, and the like). But that’s not it.

I also used to be a political animal. I involved myself in the process. I stayed up around the clock watching the returns come in, and listening to the networks incorrectly make the projections, as the Presidential election of 2000 dangled in the balance, and did the same in 2004. I was a news junkie. I wanted to be in-the-know. I even listened to it while I was in the shower, while getting dressed every morning, and while commuting to and from work.

Certainly these two facts combined are why I don’t watch the news anymore. Actually, no.

The fact of the matter is that I read news on-line, and not as it happens in real-time. I also obtain much of it from the many people I speak with and see each day. Most importantly, I’m no longer afraid that I’m going to miss anything.

As a business coach and consultant, I certainly have to be a resource to my clients, and I am. The fact of the matter, though, is that it simply isn’t possible for human beings to move at the speed of technology.

You see, the problem isn’t with technology itself. When I was in that trading pit at the C.B.O.E., the technology was just fine. It was my obsession and preoccupation with the technology outside of that arena that created problems. It was my need to be constantly in-the-know that ruled my life. I’ve written about this in my article If Time is the New Currency … is Technology Robbing Us Blind?

There are all kinds of ways to be more effective and efficient, and it takes only a little while to be practiced at them. I’ve turned off the TV and radio and learned how to use feed readers and email filters to be more productive and to manage my time.

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 – Hour Workweek, shares thoughts about email management and setting expectations in his post How to Check E-mail Twice a Day … or Once Every 10 Days. He also reveals some ideas about productivity in a CNN Money article. Tim refers to this as “The Low-Information Diet and Selective Ignorance.” I simply call it cutting out the bull.

If you’d like some more ideas on how to eliminate some of those useless items in your day, check out Slow Leadership’s post Keys to Saving Time.

When it comes to alternative sources for news, who is better better to gain an outside perspective than from your friends and colleagues? I’ve had a daily practice for the past year-and-a-half or so: I call it “phone-a-friend.”

This might not be what Ben Yoskovitz had in mind when he created the Ultimate Guide to Productivty, but it sure does get the job done. Some days I get voice mail and other days I catch someone in the middle
of something. But still other days I
have a great conversation with them. It’s a great way to keep in touch with people who are important to me and making the time for what’s most important in my life.

I need an outside perspective without the spin, and I’ve figured out a way to manage it. You can too.

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