We have a lot of things being thrown our way. In a typical day, most of us will have to deal with requests coming via email, text messages, social media, to-do lists and a variety of other places. It can be a lot!
As Khe Hy said in a recent post, many of us often have three problems:
1. I never have enough time
2. I have a futile fixation of getting it all done
3. I’m overwhelmed by the number of inputs in my life
There’s not an easy solution to this, but a few small shifts can help.
First, “never having enough time” is often something put on us by others. If you find yourself with too little time to get everything done, the issue may be more with your priorities than your available time.
Second, getting a tight grip on your inputs is essential. I laid this out in-depth in The Digital Efficiency Framework, but you really have three kinds of inputs coming at you:
- Controlled Inputs, where you have tight control of everything in there. This is generally things like your daily flashcards and your consumption list (such as apps like Pocket).
- Variable Inputs, where you have some control with things such as email, RSS feeds, and the quick notes that you leave for yourself (which may be inspired by things that others tell you to do). The key here is that all of those have a solid ending and can be worked to zero.
- Uncontrolled Inputs, like social media and news sites. They’ll go on and on and on as long as you let them.
The solution is simple in theory, but hard to pull off; have more controlled inputs and fewer uncontrolled ones. Add great articles to Pocket instead of browsing Instagram. Follow people you respect via RSS instead of Facebook. Little things add up.
Depending on your role you may or may not be able to impact it much, but I’m trying to sort my life around controlled inputs as much as possible to help keep the “overwhelming” inputs at bay.