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5 Easy Ways to Take Control of Your ‘Read It Later’ List.

On navigating the temptation of trying to be “in the know” about anything and everything — from that cool new AI technology to today’s news headlines.

· mindset,productivity,habits,skill development,disruption

Catchy Headlines. Relevant Content. Diversity of medium. Amazing Imagery. The result for me? Overflowing inboxes and an endless Twitter Feed to scroll. One day I said “Enough!” and vowed to make a change.

In today’s world, there is a constant borage of content. (If in doubt, take a look at this version of Data Never Sleeps.) It is both relevant and irrelevant, but it takes time and energy to navigate through it all. How do you prioritize and focus on what will add value for you? Here are my tips.

1) Read past the headline.

Headlines and titles are meant to draw you in. Today, marketers are increasingly saavy at this! They catch you on email, twitter, instagram… you name it! But, what is the source? Does it overlap with something else you are reading already? Is it really relevant to you and your interests or work?

2) Be intentional.

There are so many interesting article headlines, videos, webinars, and content luring you to pay attention. But, it’s important to recognize that there is a finite amount of time in the day and it’s impossible to read everything that you can get your hands on. Ask yourself “What am I trying to achieve with this content?” And, be honest in assessing if you meet those goals… or not… and make adjustments as needed.

3) Diversify

It’s always beneficial to peruse articles and content unrelated to your field to give you a different perspective and foster creativity. However, perhaps you can flip through a magazine you wouldn’t normally read, visit a different location to work from or explore, or pick up a new book. Keep your inbox for relevant information that you want to read and won’t be forced to “flag it for later.”

4) Focus

Have you ever tried to skim something while on the phone, or in-between paying attention during a webinar? Though we might think we are amazing multi-taskers, we are likely more distracted than we realize. By setting aside dedicated time — even if it’s 5–10 minutes while you’re waiting for an appointment or riding in a taxi — you ensure you are getting the most out of the content you are consuming.

5) Try new tools.

Today, there are lots of digital tools that have been created to help manage what I think of as “content overload” and save you time. There are simple mailbox strategies, like automatically putting e-newsletters in specific folders or color coding them. But, there are newer digital tools that allow you to bookmark things for later (or, with ‘pocket’, even have them read to you while you’re on-the-go.) And others that provide a ‘cheat sheet’ for specific topics or, perhaps, current news — saving you time by giving you just the highlights. I have used skimm (clicking will get me one step closer to being a skimm’bassador), but here are some others.

There is so much change happening around us. And the pace is exciting, albeit a bit overwhelming. By taking a moment to create a strategy, you can identify and prioritize what’s most relevant for you while also making time for discovery. After all, there are only 24 hours in the day. It’s up to us to use them wisely.

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