The cocktail party conversations I have about what I do for a living reveal so much about the world. For example, if I say I have an Internet startup, people generally think: She's unemployed. If I say I write a syndicated newspaper column that runs in 200 papers, people are impressed. If I tell people I'm a blogger, they say, “I don't have time to read blogs.”
Here's what I am going to start saying to those people: Only losers say they don't have time to read blogs. Because everyone has the same 24 hours in the day. So it's not that you somehow are more busy than everyone else — no one is actually too busy for anything — the issue is that reading blogs is not high enough on your priority list to read them.
So the real response, when I say, “I'm a blogger,” should be “I stay away from blogs so I can shield myself from alternative opinions to mainstream media.” And you wouldn't want to be that person, right? In fact, you're probably not that person, because look, you're reading this blog.
But the problem of saying “I don't have time to read that” applies to anything — it could be blogs but it could be those really long articles in the Atlantic that scream: “I know no one is reading this article! I only wrote it to get a book deal!”The reality is that you have time to read everything.
Here’s what to do if you feel like you can’t get a grip on your reading pile:
Stop talking about information overload. That term is for weaklings. Guess what? Generation Y never talks about information overload. That's because they know how to process information better than anyone else. That's actually what they were doing when their parents told them to turn off the TV and the music and log off of IM and do their homework.
Information overload is actually the feeling that you cannot sort through the resources in the world in order to figure out what's important. If you feel like you are overwhelmed it means that your career is at risk, because the best employees in today's workplace are information synthesizers. And information synthesizers don't feel overwhelmed by information — they either use it or they don't, but they don't whine that there's too much.
(Here's a way to test yourself for how fast you can process information online. Look at these two blogs for three seconds each: On Simplicity and Marginal Revolution. Can you tell which is the bigger? If you can't figure it out that quickly, you won't be able to sort information quickly. Solve the problem by practicing: You don't need to read more stuff to decrease your sense of information overload. You need to read a wider range of sources.)
Stop talking about good and bad media. Just because you don't read it doesn't make it bad. There is not any type of media that is so stupid that you can categorically dismiss it. I have found that I learned things from romance novels, People magazine, and even books that, in hindsight, were time wasters. So instead of saying, “I don't have time for xx,” talk about time like you have a grip on it. Say, “I don't have that type of media at the top of my list because of xx.” It's a great exercise to make yourself talk this way, because good time management is actually about understanding your priorities, and you cannot explain your reading choices without also explaining your priorities.
Stop talking about time like you need to save it. You just need to use it better. Look, if you wanted save all your time, and sit around and do nothing all day, then you would be gunning for a 4-hour work week. But most people actually enjoy being busily engaged in interesting things (which is why I think Tim Ferriss is a scam) so we are not so much saving time as figuring out the best use of our time.
So focus on meeting your goals rather than saving time. Information is not something you have time for or don't have time for. Information is either helping you meet your goals or not.
And anyway, maybe your real time management problem is that you are a perfectionist, you spend too much time doing research, or you work too hard on Mondays (yep, that's right, you should plan to do the most on Wednesday and Thursday).