19 January 2012

Finding Release: Taming Information Overload

After a particularly stressful 2011, I've taken the cue that I need to divest myself of the many things in my life that are weighing me down, whether tangible (ala' my midsection) or less so (my messy desktop).

So I've been paying particular attention to things that stress me out. Particularly when they are intertwined with things that I happen to enjoy. And in doing so I recently figured out that something I enjoy--reading genealogy blogs-- and the way in which I enjoy them--via Google Reader--was really giving me steam.

You see, besides the genealogy blogs, I was subscribed to innumerable cooking, parenting, investing, financial, crafting, lifestyle, real estate, writing and couponing blogs. As you can imagine, my Google Reader was overflowing with information, articles, tips, resources, blah blah blah that I, for some reason, felt beholden to subscribe to, lest I fall short of the perfect person with the beautiful life that reading all of these blog posts would surely turn me into.

I love a good read, but every morning when I first sat at my computer, my Google Reader seemed to be screaming at me:

1000+ Unread!!!!!!

Now, I take my responsibilities seriously, so I would conscientiously page through the posts, one by one, looking for intellectual or practical enlightenment, until my eyes glazed over, and I had spent my few hours of babysitter-sponsored free time consuming the content of others, and not producing a damn thing--poor form for a freelance writer. Not to mention that I was more ornery, slovenly in posture and outraged at my lack of productivity after the fact than I was before.

So I did what anyone in their right mind would do.

I shut off the spigot.

That's right. I had over 200+ subscriptions to various blogs, amassed throughout the past four years.

And I unsubscribed from them all.

And just for one moment, I could hear the beautiful sounds of silence.

But, of course, I need to be in the loop. I can't miss out on hot and heavy genealogical discussions like who posts the most interesting fevered rantings on citations, or whether or not my backyard chickens are practicing genealogy as a hobby or simply as amateur professionals.

So I began to recreate my subscription list, based upon two things:

1. The blogs I recall reading, and recall enjoying. That was about ten.
2. The blogs from which I had recently starred posts. This added about ten more.

Everything else, I either can't remember ever reading, or they never did me any good, so good riddance!

In the two weeks since I staunched the flow, I find that I look forward to my morning Google Reader list, instead of fearing it like I used to.

Good posts from authors I like on topics that I enjoy aren't swamped into oblivion by posts from hundreds of otherblogs in which I don't have any real interest. And after about fifteen minutes of reading, I am greeted by a beautiful sight, that lets me tackle the rest of my day with a cheery heart and a non-stressed brain:


MHD said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! Sometimes I feel bad, thinking that I'm doing something wrong for not reading all the gen blogs I see listed or reviewed... but I just keep remembering that I blog to support my research. I take your post as a vote of confidence!

Jo said...

I've come to the conclusion that I need to cut down on my blog reading too - and I spend a lot of time leaving comments, to be a "good" blog follower. I feel some unsubscribing coming on :-)