Four Tips for Reading Many Input Streams and Maintaining your Sanity

I keep up with a lot of different streams of input: emails, blogs, comics, Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook, and IM. I have much to learn, but here’s what I have learned:

  • Skim. Don’t worry about catching every bit of every email. Start by skimming, then pay closer attention if the content rewards it.
  • Keep up. If you sign up for an email list, read it frequently. I read all my emails and blogs every day. Combined with skimming, it doesn’t take very long.
  • Reply immediately. Try to immediately reply to any email that needs a reply. Some may have to wait until you gather more information, of course, but can’t you reply to most right away? And the more emails sitting in your inbox waiting for a reply, the more frustration and depression you’ll feel when you look at them.
  • Keep your inboxes clean. Move all emails you’ve read to a separate folder, or delete them. Process all your Facebook notifications (choose something to do with them). Close your IM windows when the conversation ends. Get it away from you, so you can concentrate on something else.

So, read everything at a high level to begin with, often, reply quickly, then get rid of it. Don’t let it clutter up your mind.

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