Effective use of time: Reading list triage

As I sit here choosing whether to dive into the half foot high pile of “things I really want to read” or to find time to blog (after a hectic week in which I had time to do neither), I have to admit I’m stretched too thin. So what to do?

Kathy Sierra offers some great advice for cutting down on the backlog of reading. While she has written primarily for a tech audience, these ideas can be put into action by anyone who needs to cope with exploding information flows – and that’s all of us. The picture accompanying Kathy’s post sums up the problem:

Keeping Up

She offers practical advice for what I call “reading list triage.” Some of the best tips:

  • “Find the best aggregators.” There are websites and services that filter content and feature the best (That’s one of the ways I use blogs.)
  • “Cut the redundancy!” (Is the news really different in three daily papers?)
  • “Unsubscribe to as many things as possible.” In my experience this is particularly useful. I periodically unsubscribe from blogs and let magazine subscriptions lapse. It’s surprising how many I can live without. And I can always resubscribe to the ones I really value.
  • “Recognize that gossip and celebrity entertainment are black holes.” Oh yeah. Playing solitaire on your PC is as good a use of time.
  • “Be a LOT more realistic about what you’re likely to get to, and throw the rest out.” The ultimate solution. Don’t be afraid of this step. Before I leave the office every Friday, my last act is to clear my desk. And that doesn’t mean filing things. That means discarding the things I just don’t have the time to read. And it’s amazing how rarely I have to ask for a copy of one of the things I’ve dispensed with.
  • Kathy offers additional tips in her post. I think you’ll agree that reading it is time well spent!