A quote often attributed to Henry Ford but often quoted by others says “I know that only half my advertising is effective, the problem is that I don’t know which half.” You could make the same claim for the information that we gather in our role as professionals in learning and development.
This weekend I found myself pondering the need to keep in touch with current ideas and thinking in the world of learning and development. If I’m honest I reckon that there can never be too much information. But like Henry Ford and the others who have used variations of the quote, I know that only half of the information I gather is likely to be of real use. In fact if the 80/20 principle applies then the truth is the probably only 20% of the information I gather is likely to be useful. The question is which 20%?
I have subscriptions to range of Email lists and newsletters from websites. All of them are useful some of the time but not every part or all the time. So I was mulling over how I process the information so that I am not overwhelmed.
I use filtering fairly heavily. Do whatever works for you but keep your Email inbox free from this information.
You could create an Email account which you use specifically to collect the newsletters. I do this for subscriptions to services that I buy from so that their business and sales newsletters never come my way until I have time to dip in. In variably I just click the unsubscribe link but there’s no rush because these Emails never intrude in my mailbox.
You can use filtering in the mailbox to move newsletters into a newsletter folder. They can sit there out of the way until you are ready to review them. Or you can follow my current favourite approach and forward them to a service like Evernote and read them there.
I recommend Evernote (or similar) as a place to collect all the information I think will be useful. It is easily searchable.
When I do go to read them I am, generally ruthless. The delete button is my favourite resource. I try to be courageous and delete anything which doesn’t immediately resonate.
Occasionally something will tickle my interest or give a glimpse of something I feel in bones I should follow up on. They stay in my reading folder or Evernote until I know I have time to follow up.
There are some resources that I know are more consistent in providing useful resource – I give them higher credit in my reading. One of those is the newsletter from Michael Hyatt. It so happens that Michael dealt with this same issue in his podcast this week. Great minds must think alike. Or at least be inspired by similar influences. Michael also commends the delete button. HYe makes the point in his podcast that whatever you delete can be searched for and someone else is bound to have it.
In addition to some of the same ideas as me, Michael recommends scheduling the reading and acting on the information as soon as you can.
But whatever you do to keep abreast of the information you are receiving or capturing be sure to keep on top of it. If you haven’t read it within a week then just delete.