Taming the Information Wave


How do you ride a tsunami of information?

As Moore’s Law fades into oblivion (maybe), email has eclipsed it, doubling seemingly every season, rather than every two years.

With pings and dings every second, how do you know what’s important? What to pay attention to? And how to allocate your time?

In trying to answer to those questions, I wonder if they’re the right ones.

It’s really a matter of knowing your most important priorities and focusing your time on those. You can then crowd out the noise and distractions with benign neglect.

And there’s one more ingredient to add to the mix – scanning the environment few new ideas and opportunities. Learning where to dig deep and what to ignore.

And setting up systems to make that happen for you. Silencing pings. Blocking spam. Automating filing.

In the GTD model by David Allen, you get everything out of your head and into your organizing system. That way you don’t waste precious brainpower trying to remember an appointment or a deadline.

He calls this having a mind like water. It means your mind is free to work at its highest and best level – thinking, synthesizing and ideating.

In addition, try reading, writing and coloring. Yes, coloring.

I’m a little late to the coloring craze for adults. Apparently it launched in 2013 with the publication of Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden.

And I have Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way to thank for it. I’ve long been a fan of her practice of morning pages. It’s three verbatim pages of longhand writing that clear your mind and prepare you for your day. And it’s another great way to achieve a “mind like water.”

But I’d never really embraced the related concept of an artist’s date – an hour for yourself each week to do something fun and engaging. The purpose? To “restock the well” and generate new ideas.

Until earlier this month. With no real agenda, I went to one of my favorite places – Barnes & Noble. Usually when I go, I have a list and a deadline. But I decided I’d wander through some new sections of the store and see what caught my eye.

It ended up being creative coloring books, for relaxation and mindfulness. The next stop was Staples for pencils, pens and crayons.

Coloring envelops your mind, focusing and freeing it. It’s somewhat like coming up with good ideas while walking or showering. It puts your brain in neutral while you create something of beauty. And even more beautiful is the ideas that flow in the process.

When you’re looking everywhere else for answers, it’s worth remembering that you already have them in yourself. Because you’ve always had the ruby slippers. You just have to click your heels.

Secret Garden

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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