Sunday, April 24, 2011

Cut Back on Info to Clear Some Head Space

Tip of the Week, April 10 and 17, 2011

From where I sit at my desk as I type this, I can see this past Sunday's newspaper loitering on the ottoman in my living room and too many magazines jostling for space in a magazine rack nearby. The Read/Review section of my desktop file sorter holds newsletters that have been waiting for perusal for...a while, let's say, and I don't even want to think about the contents of that same folder on my computer desktop.

And if that's not enough, new info comes at me each day. It's enough to make me a little crazy, especially since it sometimes feels like I'll never be caught up, no matter how much I read. Worse still, I love reading, so it's disappointing when it starts to feel like an obligation or a chore.

When we think about what causes clutter in our lives, information--magazines, newspapers, newsletters, e-mail messages, blog posts, and the like--may not spring to mind, but I've seen those types of things cause as much stress in the lives of my clients, and in my own, as physical clutter. Info comes into our lives every single day, and unless we're devoting hours and hours at a stretch to keeping on top of it, it can quickly spiral out of control.

It's time to make a change.

Here's what I'm going to do to cut back:
  • I'm going to sort through the contents of my magazine rack and recycle anything that's more than one issue old, whether I've read it or not.
  • I'm going to avoid subscribing to any new magazines.
  • I'm going to ruthlessly unsubscribe from any regularly delivered e-mail that I don't truly enjoy and value.
  • I'm going to clear out my Read/Review folders, and will think twice--and then think once more--before adding anything new to them.
  • I'm going to put my newspaper delivery on hold whenever my weekend schedule is such that I know I won't have at least a few leisurely hours on Sunday to read and finish the paper.
And in the spirit of cutting back on information, here's one more change in the works: starting with this one, I'll be writing my Tips not weekly but twice a month, and they'll likely be quite a bit shorter than they have in the past.

Why? Because I'm willing to bet that like me, you get a lot of e-mail, and that it's hard to keep up with all of it, especially in addition to the various other kinds of information that come into your life on a regular basis. I want these Tips to be informative and inspiring, but I don't want them to be info-clutter.

And on those weeks between Tips, you can always poke around this Tip of the Week Archive to peruse some of the more than 300 past articles I've written.

Or you can do what I plan to do: turn off the computer. Take an extra-long walk. Enjoy a glass of wine with a friend. Indulge in an afternoon nap on the sofa. Call my niece. In short, do any of the dozens of things that bring me joy but too often get pushed aside in my quest to deal with my reading pile.

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