Responses to Clearing Mental Clutter

A colleague let me know that Web Worker Daily has commented on my post about withdrawing from the echo chamber.  That’s pretty cool, I like WebWorker.

First off, let me say that it is not lost on me that I would have noticed this myself had I not deleted all my feeds and bookmarks.  Har-har, the joke’s on me, I get it.  This still makes for nice reading on a day off of work.

Second, Mike Gunderloy thinks I am prominent.  Excellent.

Now, on to the meat of this post.  By saying that:

…web workers have focused on ways to fine-tune and channel attention so as to find the necessary information at the right time.

Mike seems to be advocating that you carefully evaluate each and every one of your links, each and every one of your social sites, each and every one of your newsfeeds, hemming and hawing over “gee, maybe this one could stay”, wondering if you made the right choice, carefully crafting a suite of interruptions that you deem acceptable.

I say, to hell with that.  If you’re running a business then you’ve got bigger fish to fry.  Plus, we already have a way to find the necessary information at the right time.  It’s a little site called Google, maybe you’ve heard of it.  I’m glad that Mike can make this kind of soft-pedal approach information clutter work for him, but in my experience you need to take direct and massive action if you want to be really effective.

Now, I did indeed take a radical approach by simply deleting all of it.  And I do indeed think that it was the right step to take.  However, the spin that Mike puts on it is that I – in true ultra-hermit, Unabomber style – have decided to permanently and completely withdraw from the outside world.  This is not accurate.

Mike seems to think I’m advocating sticking one’s head in the sand and letting the industry pass one by.  I’m not sure how he comes to the conclusion that disconnecting for a while is akin to never learning new skills and letting your firm die.

Look at the last sentence of my previous post again:

Basically, if it’s not helping me to secure or complete projects for my company, if it’s not helping me to make money, if it’s not improving my life in some way, it’s mental clutter and it’s out.

You see, I have no doubt that some of these connections to the echo chamber will eventually be back in my routine – if said connection helps me in some way.

The heart of the matter is, which of these outside influences and sources of connected-ness will earn their way back organically, by being a legitimate boon to my life and my business?  And which will turn out to have been nothing more than baggage that I was holding on to un-necessarily, simply because I felt compelled to for some reason?  That’s the real test.

I issue a challenge to Mike, and to all of you who are reading this – disconnect, if you can.  Disconnect, if you dare.  Ditch your feed-reader.  Ditch your Favorites folder.  Drop out of your social networks.  Just for 30 days, disconnect.  Then, start allowing connections back into your daily routine organically.  Resist the temptation to maintain a bookmark to some blog just because you feel like you’re supposed to know what’s going on within it’s contents.  Why are you supposed to know?  Is it because you really benefit from it, or is it just because you feel compelled to be “in the know” with all the cool kids and A-listers?  Resist bookmarks to “resources” that you don’t really need.  Is a given bookmark providing you with real knowledge, or just tabloid information about the industry?  Is a given bookmark that once provided useful knowledge still relevant?  If not, do you need to maintain it?

Make your online distractions earn their keep.  Then delete them every year or two, and make them earn their spot all over again.  Be ruthless in the distractions you accept.  There is an entire world out there trying to pull your attention away from the things that will make you effective, productive and prosperous.  Don’t just give your attention away, make things earn it, then earn it again.