Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour-Workweek approach to productivity is one of my favorites because it’s based on radically simplifying your life. One of the ways to do this is to stop the information overload. But for professionals who largely live on the web, this can be tough. The never-ending news alerts, emails, phone calls, voicemails, and text messages can all make for a pretty overwhelming day. Within an hour of waking up, our heads are usually filled with a ton of unnecessary information from the latest industry trends to your daily Groupon deals to the latest news on Robert Pattinson’s relationship problems.
If we have any hope of being at our best, it needs to stop.
How Tim Ferriss Stops Information Overload
In The 4-Hour-Workweek, Ferriss mentions that he never watches the news, never reads the paper, and never browses CNN. Instead, once a week, he will ask a friend or even a stranger at a bar or cafe, if there was any big news that week. If there was anything important, he will definitely hear about it and save himself a ton of time.
When it comes to work-related information overload, Ferriss reminds everyone to re-take control of their lives. You don’t need to respond to every email or phone call immediately: the world won’t end. Instead, you should set aside specific times when you go through your emails and voicemails – and let your boss or co-workers know that they will not get an immediate response.
How To Stop Your Own Information Overload
Most of us have a workweek much longer than four hours and don’t have the same circumstances as Tim Ferriss but we can all benefit from stopping the information overload we all deal with. Here are some easy steps to get you on your way to a less overwhelming day:
Use RSS Feeds: Most websites allow you to subscribe to new content via an RSS reader and Google sends you news summaries on whatever topic you wish. Get the information you want right in your reader without overwhelming yourself with news you couldn’t care less about.
Create Limits: Stop using your peak times to go on Facebook, Twitter, or surf the web. Set times for yourself to take a Facebook break but avoid becoming distracted by your friend’s never-ending puppy photos.
Relax on The Weekends: Taking time off from consuming information altogether can be a great way to clear your head. Try to avoid wasting your free time on the weekend consuming information and relax your brain instead.
Let Everyone Know Your System: It can be difficult to disconnect from the constant stream of emails and text messages but it’s easier if you let people know what to expect. Ferriss recommends adding an email signature that lets people know that you check and reply to your email at such-and-such specific time but if they need an urgent response they should call you instead.