I don't know about you but I spend much of my time trying to stay on top of the deluge of information that keeps coming my way. Between emails, newsletters, RSS feeds, Twitter, and Facebook, the information is sometimes overwhelming and, let's face it, after a while it becomes white noise.
Now, more than ever, it's important to be super selective when you're trying to keep up on your industry. Time is key and, for most of us, in very short supply. Using time wisely will not only help you stay current, but also keep the flow of information to a manageable level. Keeping up with information, regardless of the industry you are in, has become almost like drinking from a fire hose. A lot of people are out there creating a lot of stuff. Some of it's useful, some of it is a waste. How quickly you can determine that will make a huge difference.
During the past year, I found that I had an overwhelming amount of content to sift through and when I did, 70 percent of it wasn't something I needed anyway. But I continued to remain a loyal follower often for no other reason than "just because." When I became more diligent about the amount of content that flooded my inbox, I not only freed up my email bandwidth, but also created space to be more creative because I wasn't overwhelmed with reading dozens of blogs, newsletters, etc.
- Look for solid content: This goes without saying, I know. But the reality is this: if you've been reading a newsletter for a while you might not notice the subtle changes, perhaps relating to content, that have made it less relevant with each issue. I encourage you to go through each newsletter, blog, fan page, and Twitter follower and see how many of them you haven't read or whose information you gloss over. It might be time to un-sub from them. I find that sometimes people don't like to do that, thinking, "It's rude" to unsubscribe. No, it's not. If the information isn't helpful, it's just clogging your inbox. The information is probably very good for someone else, but not for you. The less junk you have to filter through, the more you can pay attention to the good stuff. That's what this exercise is really for.
- Find Filters: Filters are the people who cover a lot of ground in their content. Let's say you're trying to keep up with everything related to building apps, or maybe you're in publishing. Try to find some key people who do more than talk about their stuff, in other words find people who can discuss the industry and who report on different aspects so you're getting news and insights all in one place.
- Google Alerts: This is a great system and a terrific way to manage your news all in one place. Get Google alerts on anything you are tracking. Once a day Google Alerts will send you a list of news items on your topic so you can have them all in one place and not have to spend hours scouring the Internet to keep up on your topic.
- Don't try to know everything: We all want to be experts but you don't have to know everything. Instead network with other experts who can share their insights or who you can learn from. One of the things we've started to do this year is bring in experts who can speak to different topics, like Google+, YouTube, Facebook, etc.
- Limit yourself to five superb industry newsletters: If you're like me, you probably get a lot of industry newsletters. Just about every expert has one, but here's the thing: not all newsletters are created equal so unsubscribe from the ones that don't enhance your knowledge. Again, it's about being super selective when it comes to the amount of content you have to digest.
Also, if you're promoting online (and you are, aren't you?) you also need to keep up with changes that will affect your social media campaign. Facebook updates often happen with little or no notice and with all the momentum Google+ is experiencing, it's a good idea to keep track of a few key sites that will help you navigate your social media information. Here are some that I absolutely love, following these experts will really help you stay on top of the changes in social media:
- Social Media Examiner
Another great site, developed by social media guru Guy Kawasaki, is Alltop. Here you can plug in your area of expertise and get a page full of news items specific to your market. No more hunting around for top news stories, they are right there. This is also a great place for idea and content generation if you're at a loss as to what to Tweet or post to Facebook.
Next up is publishing; I mean if you're in the industry you should keep up with what's happening, right? There's a great newsletter you should get called Publisher's Lunch, you can access it at www.publishersmarketplace.com. Additionally, check out these blogs which are always helpful and insightful:
That's it. Now make it your goal to cut down the noise and clear the decks for more time and more creative thinking. Too much clutter consumes not just our time, but our bandwidth, too. Keeping tabs is important but I think you'll find that the deeper we get into the new year, the more selective we'll all need to be about our content.