I’ve been discussing the deluge of information and our need to manage digital devices to help manage the flow of content in my posts here. New tech tools pop up all the time, and some help, others only distract.
The Digital Revolution has exploded in the 21st century. By 2012, over 2 billion people used the Internet, twice the number using it in 2007. Cloud computing entered the mainstream by the early 2010s. By 2015, tablet computers and smartphones are expected to exceed personal computers in Internet usage.
This means that everyone is expected to stay abreast of trends and the incessant flow of information. Not everyone does a good job of using digital devices.
In my work coaching executives, I don’t know of anyone who isn’t challenged. When it comes to responding to emails and social media updates that concern customers and business reputations, we can’t always limit our digital time online. We need to be aware and alert to opportunities and threats.
Not all messages need immediate responses, and we must learn to prioritize tasks. For example, email filters can be set up so that certain subjects may be handled first. Here are a few things I’ve learned about from my more “techy” friends.
Outlook, Gmail, and most other major email tools will allow you to set rules and filters to ensure that only the most essential messages reach you right away. Newsletters, purchase receipts, social media updates, and messages on which you are copied can be accessed later. Then designate an hour every day to review these folders.
You can also use news feeds such as RSS or newsreader apps such as Feedly, Reeder, or Flipboard to group articles and blog posts by topics. You can’t read everything in your field, nor do you need to, but you can stay current by regularly reviewing what others are writing.
The important thing is to manage content on your schedule, when you have the time and attention to devote to each topic.
Managing Social Media
Building professional credibility and reaching out to others can be enhanced by social media sites and specific interest groups. Yet it can be a time monster. You need to automate as much as possible.
Several tools offer an efficient way to post to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook: Hootsuite, Buffer, and Social Inbox are popular with overloaded executives. These tools allow you to reach multiple networks and schedule updates and posts in advance.
The War for Attention
The question of why we are willing to fracture our attention and risk errors remains unanswered. There is perhaps some pride in believing we are able to multitask in order to prove our cognitive prowess, but it can also be fear driven.
Winning the battle over distractions may be a long uphill fight, but as we gain access to more and more tools, we can adapt better skills to maintain our focus.