One thing that’s become a pressing issue for me – and which seems to be something most of us struggle with – is how to keep up with everything.
Here’s what I’ve done – and continue to try – to achieve a state where I greatly enjoy and appreciate what I follow and consume online, without feeling overwhelmed.
1. Change your definition of everything.
Rather than say “I want to keep up with everything” (or more likely, “I can’t keep up with everything”), redefine what that “everything” is, what you actually want to follow.
If you have, say, half an hour a day to commit to reading online, but are trying to follow 100 blogs that between them publish 10 hours’ worth of new reading content each day – not to mention trying to digest four or five different social media platforms simultaneously too – it’s simply not going to fit.
You end up skimming everything, and enjoying nothing.
So instead, consider which 10 or five or three of those different sources you want to follow.
Then, keeping up with “everything” is reframed as keeping up with just 10/five/three channels, and becomes manageable – and enjoyable – again.
2. Stop following anything you haven’t found valuable, interesting or inspiring in the last three months.
If you need to be more strict, reduce this time frame to the last month.
Often we follow so many channels and people because they used to once in a while post something interesting, and we’ve never stopped following.
We hope they might one day again share something useful, and maybe we feel a kind of guilty loyalty too, but that wonderful post or update we’re waiting for never arrives.
Reclaim your time, let the redundant sites go and refocus your precious attention on the sources that are enriching your life. You can probably list them right now.
Oh and if you don’t find 35hunter consistently enjoyable or valuable, please feel free to stop following too – I don’t want to be adding to your overwhelm.
3. Change your thinking from keeping up (or catching up) to checking in.
When you say to yourself “I need to catch up with all the blogs I follow” it’s a presupposition – you’re already telling yourself you’ve fallen behind.
But it’s not a race, or a competition.
Instead, try saying “I’m going to check in with some of the blogs I follow”.
This removes that assumption that you’re falling behind, or forever chasing.
Stating that you’re checking in reaffirms that you’ve found a few sites online you really enjoy following, and spend time checking in with what they’ve been publishing, at a frequency that works for you.
Better to read a few posts, give them your full attention, and really enjoy them, than skim over dozens and not get anything except that increasingly anxious feeling of falling behind.
4. Batch your check ins.
This is an extension of the above in a way. Don’t let the pace and schedule of the sources you follow dictate your preferred consumption behaviours and pace.
Sitting hunched over a device being a slave to every new notification is a generally hollow and anxiety feeding existence. Even worse is constantly swiping to refresh, desperate for some kind of update or other.
I called this the “chacking” mentality in a previous post – constantly needing to check and chase.
What if you just checked in once a day for a set time, read and commented on the posts and updates you wanted to, then walked away again, letting everything else slide, letting go of the need to read and respond to every comment, every update?
Better in my view to spend one 30 minute period a day checking in and again immersing yourself in and enjoying the experience, then finishing before it starts to feel like a chore, than trying to keep up once every 30 or 15 or five minutes, a forever rushing and impatient chack addict.
Hopefully I’ve expanded these four points enough for you to understand how and why they can work.
I could have made this post a lot shorter.
If you want the concise version, just compress the lines in bold above into one paragraph –
Change your definition of everything. Stop following anything you haven’t found valuable, interesting or inspiring in the last three months. Change your thinking from keeping up (or catching up) to checking in. Batch your check ins.
Most importantly, remember it’s your time, your energy, your attention, no-one else’s. Use it wisely, and meaningfully.
Over to you.
How do you keep up with everything online? Do you use any of these techniques – in isolation or combined? What other tips can you share?
Please let us know in the comments below (and remember to tick the “Notify me of new comments via email” box to follow the conversation).
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