The connected world is awash with a rising tide of information, opinions, and contradictions. If you’re sinking rather than swimming, peep our 4 steps on how to navigate the stormy seas of online content.
Knowledge is power. And curiosity will get you everywhere. But the daily flood of knowledge coming at us – crested with irresistible headlines and foaming with virality – has given rise to a complaint among employers today: Generation Y at large, while intellectually inquisitive on the upside, finds it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand. It’s like being trapped inside a goldfish bowl in the vast ocean of the internet. We’re interfaced with information from almost every corner of the globe and not all of it is relevant, though the intimate nature of receiving content via our One True Beloved, the digital screen, gives a disingenuous illusion of proximity. So how can we shake away the distractions and siphon off the content juice that really benefits us?
If you find yourself flapping like a fish out water from blog to social network to news website, there are ways to structure your intake so that it is 1) useful and 2) more likely to be retained. Read on for our 4 steps to becoming online content-savvy (with an inevitable nod to Baywatch, for which we make no apologies).
1. Whittle down your Twitter feed
Slick and smart Twitterers use their home feed like an interactive RSS reader. HELLO content galore. That said, there’s a baffling trend for people to follow all and sundry in the hope of being followed in return. Because, apparently, being The Popular Kind on social media is more rewarding than having meaningful interactions with people and topics you genuinely care about. Life is short, and the Twitter wormhole is long. Beware.
Life raft: it’s a bit of a faff – but comb through the list of everyone you’re following and delete those who aren’t relevant to your current work, career ambitions, or other areas of direct interest (such as news/entertainment/friends/politics/opinions of prominent people who aren’t mad as a box of frogs).
Saving grace: instant access to global news, opinions and external content that you care about, with the bonus opportunity to engage in the discussion.
2. Condense your current affairs addiction
It’s tempting to have a news website or app open to dip into throughout the day. However, an ongoing drip-feed offers a poor return on investment for your time – from a productivity as well as an information-retention point of view. Humans as a race may be gradually getting better at multitasking as we adapt to an increasingly distraction-heavy environment, but evolution wasn’t built in a day.
Life raft: set aside half an hour a day, before work or after work or during lunch, to delve into your preferred news source, free from distractions.
Saving grace: allocating a daily fixed window for news absorption will bypass the nagging attention deficit tendency that comes with flicking to a news site more often than you blink.
3. Face up to Facebook faffing
Time to get sensible. Resisting the lure of pure, unadulterated clickbait such as Buzzfeed takes all the willpower of an ascetic and white-habited Mother Superior, but online content of this ilk leads to an endless wormhole of click-throughs. Cooing over the 500 cutest photos of otters in bow ties isn’t going to help you achieve your life’s ambitions (save it for the weekend; that’s what otters were made for).
Life raft: if hiding the Facebook feed of the most calamitous clickbait culprits in your network is what it takes, then that’s what it takes. Or – for the bravest seafarers out there – beef up your powers of self-control.
Saving grace: the day suddenly seems four hours longer, and you’ll have more capacity in the brain department to take in content that will help you achieve your goals or further your interests. Not to mention shiverin’ yer timbers.
4. Subscribe to daily or weekly email digests…
…from the content sources you care about most. Aimless on-site browsing is a swirling eddie that’s flowing nowhere fast. In an email giving summaries of hot topics and latest developments, you have a quick overview of what’s been happening and can go on to read the full stories of those that grab you most. Go on. It’s what Pammie would want.
Life raft: most content sources have an option to subscribe to an email newsletter, with the added advantage that you can pick your areas of interest to further distill relevance. Dig till you find this option.
Saving grace: all the relentless convenience of Chinese takeaway delivered to your door. Here are a few of our go-to sources that keep us from trawling the internet like creatures possessed:
- Tech Crunch – a tech-heavy feast of startups and enterprise
- Business Insider – everything from food news to the global economy
- The Fetch – a handy run-down of events and news in your city (as long as you live in one of the 10 they currently cover)
- Mashable – tech, business, social media… with an element of Buzzfeed for those of you who simply cannot live without.
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