How do you keep up with what is going on at any career stage and whatever job you do? Sometimes, it feels like the more you discover, the more you realise how little you know. We are data and information rich. But how do you find the relevant knowledge amidst the deafening noise to help you become wiser?
This nagging sense that we are constantly missing something in a sea of data and opinion, or that others know more than we do, can fill us with doubt or leave us overwhelmed. The challenge is to join up the dots between information, knowledge and wisdom in a way that helps you achieve and feel good about it at the same time.
The problem and the solution lie in your relationship with technology. The onslaught of online content requires energy to be directed with care and thought. One of the reasons that many CEOs do not engage with social media is fear of being distracted by what they perceive as play rather than work. Yet, social leadership is critical in today’s world of work.
Focus your attention
Being on social media, while earning a living and having a life is always a balancing act. How you achieve it depends on how you view time and what you value. Some people like to compartmentalise. Others live a life of permeable boundaries, with different activities co-existing in a comfortable rhythm from the moment you wake up to going to bed.
Managing your time is about managing yourself and other people. Information overload is a failure to filter, rather than a failure to find. It is often self-inflicted, preventable and manageable. Managing yourself is about choices and alignment – what we choose to pay attention to in the direction of our goal. We are constantly feeding our addiction for information, our thirst for knowledge and our desire for insight and wisdom. Learning has never been more popular.
Here are 5 ways to filter information for focus, relevance and less stress:
- Change your mindset – from acquisition (of more ‘stuff’) to recognition (of your ‘why’). Do you go surfing for hours on end without realising, endlessly bookmarking, downloading or even printing? Remember why you went surfing in the first place and stick to your priorities or manage your gold digging in smaller bursts; be selective.
- Self-compassion is OK – so you were so busy working over the last few days that you missed that tweet or blog or update. Big deal, get over it – it’s no different from today’s newspaper becoming tomorrow’s fish and chips wrapper; be selective.
- Focus on value and keeping it real – clean out your Twitter followers (try @Twitcleaner); get rid of the hairdressers from Milwaukee in your LinkedIn connections; set up Google Alerts for your keywords; quality not quantity, small is beautiful; don’t always follow back; say ‘no’ to the unknown connectors unless they genuinely engage; be selective.
- Swim in the pool, fish in the ocean – do your research so that you follow people in your niche, field or industry (competitors, influencers, potential customers); create Twitter lists so you can focus in on who you really want to hear; make it clear to your followers what you welcome, so you become a magnet; attract them to you by writing good content, providing helpful links and having something interesting to say that makes them want to hear more; be selective.
- Love your ‘unsubscribe’ – de-clutter your inbox by unsubscribing from low-value, newsletters that you once signed up with because of a freebie; let the ‘delete’ button become your friend; be selective.
What tools and tips work for you in your job and career?
About the Author: David Shindler is a career coach, founder of online school Career Navigating for Young Professionals, and author of Learning to Leap, A Guide to Being More Employable.