Resources are everywhere these days. The last few weeks I’ve come across some truly great websites, whether stumbling upon them or by recommendations from a friend. After awhile though, there is so much mental clutter from all these different directions that it’s hard for me to focus on my own goals, let alone filter out the information overload from others to figure out the best resources for me.
We hear this a lot nowadays: “Sign Up Here”…”Subscribe for This Awesome Free Download!”…”Don’t miss this great webinar!” As if that weren’t enough, now Facebook is offering a sponsored post option to hit you on another side. There is always a sense of urgency, like I might miss something important, some breakthrough gem if I don’t sign up.
Do yourself a favor. Filter the noise.
Now don’t get me worng – there are a lot of good resources out there, and I would rather test drive a free version than pay for something I’ve never heard of.
The problem is this. Clutter stresses me out. Doesn’t matter if it’s physical, mental, or electronic. I’m trying hard this year to incorporate more white space, more margin, into my days. Back off from the nonstop go-go-go and sometimes just…be. Constant bombardment from so many directions is distracting. Email, facebook, blog subscriptions, podcasts, online courses, webinars – there is no end to the possible best resources available to us, and plenty of worthwhile ones.
The noise these days is becoming so loud, how do you filter out to know what are the best resources for you?
Here are the steps I take to filter the best resources:
- Set up a separate email address just for blog subscriptions – and turn off notifications. This keeps me from being distracted by the non-urgent while I’m working or spending time with family. I can access the information on my terms. (Bonus tip: I also have a separate email just for coupons and store sign ups. When I’m shopping, I know exacly which email to check.) You can accomplish the same thing with a blog reader or email folders.
- Only read articles at specific times. I save this for when I’m waiting in the school pickup line or at ball practice, in the evening when work is done for the day, or other snatches of down time when I’m alone.
- Unsubscribe from lower quality or less relevant emails. I ask myself, “Is this worth my time?” Will it challenge me, make me better, or be enjoyable? Is it relevant to my current season? You can always subscribe and try a blog out for awhile. If I find myself deleting an unread email newsletter more often than not, it’s probably not of great use to me. Cut down on the clutter by unsubscribing or cleaning out where you can. I stick with the highest quality, most relevant, and interesting.
- Choose a good variety – some good business development resources, personal growth, and fun/hobby things. It’s important to keep a good balance, and not to neglect the fun and creative outlets. Sometimes the most unrelated topics can be the most inspiring.
- Use podcasts to my advantage. Confession: I’m not a great listener when it comes to audiobooks or podcasts. However, if I’m doing something mundane with my hands that doesn’t require a lot of brain power, I hardly miss a word. So this little trick helps me enjoy housework a lot more, makes folding laundry go by faster, and also teaches me a thing or two.
- Set aside guilt-free time for learning and professional development. People often say, “Spend time on your business, not just in your business.” I agree; this is easy to overlook. It’s important to step back once in awhile and take time to invest in yourself. This doesn’t have to be a costly program; it can be a free online course, a business book, or a local in-person workshop. Just make time to learn. You’ll be glad you did.
- Set specific goals and a schedule. This can be structured or flexible depending on your personality and work style. I have a list of books I want to read, from business development to biographies, spiritual growth to classics. When I’m at the library I can refer to my list and see 1) what’s available and 2) what I’m in the mood to read next. If I read even one book a month, that’s 12 books a year. I’ll be that much more knowledgable 12 months from now.
It’s all right if you don’t read every single email or post that comes through your feed. What it comes down to is that not every resource is for every single person, and that’s okay. Our needs change with our seasons and filtering is a part of the growing process. You have to choose the best resource for the season you’re in now.
How do you decide what are the best resources for you? Share in the comments below.