One of the cardinal rules for startups is: focus, focus, focus. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it that everyone must focus on delivering. This month I did a horrible job focusing. So for the next few months I'm putting myself on an "information diet". Here's what that means.
Somewhere I heard someone define a diet to lose weight as: Eat Less, Move More. That's a simple and catchy motto that it got me thinking what a diet to reduce information overload motto could be. I came upon: Consume Less, Produce More.
I'm sure you've heard that interruptions and multitasking are bad for productivity. I don't think anyone was truly surprised that splitting your attention across many tasks was the antithesis of focus. How do you solve it? The answer apparently is pretty simple. Stop multitasking.
As an information junkie, it feels very unnatural to turn everything off and trust that I won't miss something important. But that's what I am doing to test the statements that you can do more by doing less.
Concretely, here is what I'm doing.
First, I've closed my ever-present desktop Twitter client. It is banished for the next 3 months. I check Twitter by phone at those times when I might sit down to read a book or watch TV. In other words, rarely.
Second, I now only track three email folders. FireGiant, Personal, and wix-devs mailing list. Mail that doesn't fit into those categories is filtered into other email folders that I'll skim over in a few months.
Third, I do not open any mail clients (desktop or phone) until lunch time. I'm most productive in the morning and late in the evening. Therefore, I'm now choosing to read email while eating lunch. Of all the changes, this is the one that continues to scare me most.
Fourth, I listen to NPR 7AM News podcast in the morning. It's short enough that if I miss one morning I catch up on the next. This way, I have some clue about what's going on in the world.
Fifth, I go through my blog feeds on my tablet on the nights where I don't feel like doing other things. I'm mostly catching on tech news and looking for interesting ideas to blog about.
Which leads me to the final topic.
When thinking about this information diet, I didn't simply want to reduce distractions. I wanted to improve my output. So, I decided as part of this information diet I would work on capturing my thoughts and producing them as blog entries.
Many times I've noted that I feel it takes me too long to write blog entries. In the past I blamed technology but that isn't the issue any longer (see tinySite). Now I just have to do it.
So here's to launching my 3 month information diet. If it goes well enough, I'll extend it another 3 months and evaluate. If you don't see blog posts here at least weekly, feel free to leave me a comment pointing out that I'm falling behind on my diet. Peer pressure is a great way to get lean.