Internet is the repository of a wealth of information and a great time-waster as well. What I am realizing is that the source of information overload is not so much the sheer quantity of information, but rather the inability or unwillingness to choose what is worth the reading effort. I am guilty of spending hours jumping from one article to another to satisfy my curiosity. Did all this reading make me more productive, inspired, creative? I am not so sure. That’s why I decided to give my ACE system a try. It makes me more aware and accountable for what I read, why I read it, and what the results are. “ACE” stands for “Accumulate,” “Choose,” “Eliminate.” This is how it works:
Accumulate. I schedule time to skim my feeds, perform searches, follow interesting links and do other things to collect potential reading material. I bookmark the things I may want to read. I set up several folders according to my projects and interests so that I could sort the links into their corresponding folders. The challenge here is to fight the temptation to start reading. The upside is that I don’t need to be selective at this stage. Anything that catches my eye goes to one of my folders.
Choose. I schedule separate time when I actually read the materials that I bookmarked earlier. Before I read though, I make a choice of what I am going to read about today. The benefit is that my reading is more focused on what I am doing at the moment. Instead of reading five articles on memory on various days, I read them all in the same session when I want to tackle this topic. Another plus is that great sources accumulate over time without much effort on my part, and when there are enough of them, it is a signal for me to pay attention. I find that I get more ideas and inspiration out of such sessions.
Eliminate. I also take time to go over and clean up my folders. I delete the links that are no longer relevant for some reason. Again, I want to keep the things that I may read one day.
Do you have a system in place that helps you curb your appetite for online reading? I’d love it if you shared your approach in the comments.