Information Off-loading (8 of 12)

I appreciate all the feedback on last week’s blog.  This week I will be sharing several different ways that we can offload some of the overwhelming amount of information that bombards us on a daily basis.  As you may recall in Part 4 of The Workforce Conundrum, we talked about just how much information overload we experience.  In summary, the rate of information has changed from doubling every 100 years to about every 2 years per field.  You may recall the quote from Google CEO Eric Schmidt below.

With all this information available and constantly finding its way into our psyches and analysis, how can we possibly find time to cover it all? We can’t.  This is important.  We need to reclaim our lives and move forward on the path of skills and knowledge improvement.

Let me offer some thoughts on finding time and managing information.

Finding More Time

I remember watching a commercial when I was much younger in which a child kept asking his dad to spend more time with him.  The closing message we were left with was “Time, I’ve got as much as anybody.”  I remember this phrase vividly.  Yes, we do all have the same 24 hours in a day, but sometimes – it just doesn’t seem to be enough.

Several years ago, I came home from work exhausted, complaining to my wife about how I just didn’t have enough time to get everything done I needed to get done, never mind the things that I wanted to do.  Well, my wife is an accountant, so guess what we did for the next couple of weeks?  That’s right! We tracked every half hour of my day in an Excel spreadsheet.  (While I do recommend this, it is not for the faint of heart, especially if your significant other is the one doing the tracking!) One of the most productive things we can do is gather good data to which we apply practice to gain new results.

After the tracking period was over and the dust had settled, it became clear that even after working, sleeping, eating, traveling in LA to and from work, and all the other little time users – I still had 34 hours a week that I was basically throwing away!  My message is not that we should not have some down time, but that if we have more focus and purpose around our time – we have time to learn more.  To understand more, to become more.

Managing Information

Even if you have more time, there are just so many pieces of information vying for your attention: politics (like last week’s U.S. elections), college and/or professional football, work projects, family interactions, social media postings, home projects, vacation, the latest national news, the latest international news, and just so many more.  What can we do to manage all this information?

Most people I talk to about this challenge of information glut go immediately to the idea that they need to be better at ‘time management.’ I guess that is part of the solution, but I prefer the school of thought that what is more important is content management.  Let me give you an example from one of the best at managing how content interacts in his life – NYT bestselling author, @DarrenHardy.  Darren shares examples of leaders who feel they just don’t have enough time.  After measuring (just like we talked about above) where they are spending their time, Darren shares experiences of where busy executives are spending over four hours a day just checking the news!

Darren shares in his book The Compound Effect: “You alone are responsible for what you do, don’t do, or how you respond to what’s done to you.”

We need to reassess what information is actually valuable for us and the goals or objectives we have set.  Do you really need to see every news story 12 times a day (morning news, blogs, tweets, evening news, papers, posts, etc.)?  Do you need to know every game score?  Filtering what comes into our lives will help us in many ways: it gives us more time, it provides us less distractions – clarity of thought, and it also allows us to choose what we feed our minds.

And this Matters Why?

Part of the problems we face in trying to solve the workforce issue is that we need people who are capable to do the jobs that we didn’t even have titles for a decade ago.  How do we get those people?  Well, training them is one obvious answer, but if they have no time to train, or are stalled on the path because there are too many choices, then THAT is why content management and finding more time matters.  If we hope to develop the skills for today’s jobs, we will need to unclutter our brains and recognize that we can take control of our lives, we can direct our path – this will result in more potential workers aligned with the job openings that exist or are yet to be imagined jobs that will be coming.

The next two weeks posts are going to talk about how we solve some of the demographic differences highlighted in Part 5 of The Workforce Conundrum.  Feel free to send me a note about your thoughts on these issues covered in the blog – I would enjoy understanding your perspective.