Since the end of last year, I started a gradual process of uncluttering my online life in order to waste less time on distractions and get more focused on the stuff that I really care about at the moment. Here’s what (and how) I managed to do so far in this regard.
No e-mail auto-archiving anymore. When you add filters to auto-archive your e-mails into folders, you’re basically creating a situation where it’s ok to receive email you often don’t care about. I decided to auto-tag e-mail but not to auto-archive them anymore. This way I can have a clear sense of the amount of the e-mail I’m getting everyday — as they don’t auto-hide somewhere — and what mailing lists are just a waste of time.
Unsubscribed from most of mailing lists. It’s impressive how much time you waste on just skimming through a massive number of mailing list e-mails, just to feel that you’re keeping track of what’s going on. I decided to only keep subscription on mailing lists that I really care about. The no-auto-archiving approach helped a lot in recognizing the unwanted e-mails. Result: unsubscribed from 30+ mailing lists.
Unsubscribed from most of social web groups. Especially the Facebook ones. I rarely use them anyway. So, no need to keep any participation. Result: unsubscribed from 15+ groups.
Not using feed reader anymore. Ok, this one may sound a bit silly. For some reason, feed readers give me the feeling that there’s always unread stuff to be seen — and end up having a look at it too often. Also, it brings me this sort of illusion that you can read much more content than I actually can. So, I decided to simply bookmark my favourite websites (around 30) and access them whenever I feel like it. In practice, I visit only 8-10 of those everyday. The other 20 are visited at random times.
Not following too many microbloggers. I try to follow a maximum of 100-ish people on Twitter and Identi.ca. Following more than that would make me feel like I’m always missing something and checking out what’s new too often. Nowadays, I read the new entries every time I post something which is healthy frequency.
Avoiding redundant content. There’s a lot of redundant content out there. Very often the same news is published in different forms in several websites. In that case, I just chose the websites which in my opinion have higher content quality. Furthermore, sometimes just following someone on Twitter or Identi.ca is enough to get access to all new stuff coming from them as they microblog about their new blog posts, photos, videos, etc, anyway. In that case, there’s no need to subscribe to their blog feed and follow them on Twitter, for example.
There’s so much content you can get from the net nowadays that it’s quite easy to fall in the trap of thinking that you are able to consume it all. But that’s obviously an silly thought. I decided to focus on what I find relevant now and ignoring the rest as much as I can. And I’m saving some precious time for other things I care about. I may ended up deciding to expand the amount of content to read everyday but I’ll definitely do it in a more disciplined way from now on.