Read, Learn and Take Action

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I’ll admit it: I used to be a feed reader addict.  Although I didn’t have over six hundred feeds in my reader like Robert Scoble, I did have over two hundred.  I felt like the more feeds I could add and follow, the more I could learn, which would allow me to be more productive/successful.

While this sounds good in theory, I eventually had to admit to myself that my feeds were actually having the opposite effect of what I intended.  Instead of helping me to be a better internet marketer, I realized that I was spending way too much time trying to stay on top of my feeds.  Not only was I being less productive, but all of the time I was spending reading feeds was taking away hours that I could have been spending on billable work.

After spending some time thinking about how to get a grip on this problem, I decided that I had no choice but to purge my feed reader of the unnecessary feeds.  I began by getting rid of the feeds that I had added for purely entertainment value.  These were the easiest to identify, but it only put a small dent in my overall feed count.

To really get my feed reader under control, I decided that I would use the following system to decide whether or not a feed was worth keeping: if I couldn’t find one specific piece of information from the last three posts that I could take and immediately apply to my professional life, I would drop the feed.

While this test may seem a little extreme, it’s actually quite reasonable.  You only have a limited amount of hours each day, and if you’re spending them consuming information that you can’t directly apply to your work, you’re simply wasting your time.

Once I implemented this test, I quickly realized that I could eliminate 99% of the news feeds I was following.  Although they were all interesting, 99% did not offer information that I could take and directly apply to improve my professional life.

When I did find a piece of information that I could use, I summarized it in one sentence and moved it to Evernote, where I could tag it and ensure that it was available to take immediate action on (Evernote can also be used for a lot of different purposes).

It took some time, but I’m now down to having only twelve feeds in my reader.  Also, to keep myself from constantly checking my feed reader, I setup Google Reader so that I receive an email once a day that contains all of the new posts from my feeds.  Since I’ve also gotten down to only checking email twice a day, I only have to spend ten to twenty minutes a day digesting the actionable information from my feeds.

I thought my world was going to fall apart when I made the decision to audit my feeds, but in reality, my productivity and ability to accomplish billable tasks have increased dramatically.

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