Reduce your inputs

After listening to a conversation between Dan Benjamin, Merlin Mann, and Jeff Veen I decided to “reduce my inputs” and it’s been a great success.

The basic idea is that we’re constantly bombarded with information, and that a surplus of information can reduce productivity and cause stress. By reducing the number inputs from which we receive information, we can become happier and more productive.

This is something that was discussed in the The 4-Hour Workweek, where the author suggested turning off all sources of news and relying on friends and colleagues to remain informed.

Recently, I’ve heard of people taking what’s called an “digital sabbath” where they turn off their electronics one day each week.

Some other ideas:

  • Unfollowing some people on Twitter
  • Taking a week off Google Reader, and reducing the number of subscriptions after seeing the unread counts.
  • Checking email at designated times throughout the day (10am and 2pm, for example)
  • Trying the Pomodoro Technique.

I’m particularly interested in the Pomodoro Technique at the moment, and I’m using this handy Tea Timer Dashboard widget to help get a grip on where I spend my time. So, if I want to read some tweets, blog posts, and Hacker News that’s OK — I just limit myself to one Pomodoro (25 minutes) per day.

Deciding in advance how much time you want to spend per day/week on a particular input(s) and then enforcing that limit on yourself can be really enlightening. Give it a try, and I’m sure you’ll find yourself wanting to reduce your inputs as well.


Published by

Trevor Turk

A chess-playing machine of the late 18th century, promoted as an automaton but later proved a hoax.