Intentional Attention – My Organization Strategy for Interesting Reads

I’m trying to be more intentional about reading through the backlog of cool projects, articles, and newsletters I collect throughout the day. Be it from colleagues, social media, my blog feed reader, or from emailed newsletters and link roundups, there’s a lot of great stuff out there!

I’ve come to terms with the fact that there’s always going to be more to see and do than there is time for them, and there’s no better example of that than this constant stream of great content.

This is why I regularly refine my organization and time management strategies, I want to be more intentional about what I put attention towards. In this article I’ll share how I moved from ad hoc and rushed parsing to a more sustainable and intentional way of giving this great content the time they deserve.

“Not Right Now” Ad Hoc Attentionanchor

Before, when I found an interesting article I’d tell myself “not right now”. So it sits in a tab or quickly added to a reader app. A great newsletter arrives but “I can’t today” so it sits unread in my email until I have more time.

But, more time doesn’t materialize. So I’d parse through as best I can. Skim some articles over lunch or in between meetings. Click through some newsletters as I mindlessly check emails. I knew I was missing out but tried to rationalize that I got the gist of it.

I’m sure you’ve been there too.

Intentional Attentionanchor

I came to realize I was getting overwhelmed with it all and the ad hoc parsing wasn’t really working. I always felt rushed and knew I was missing out on some great ideas, projects, and sales.

Getting organizedanchor

Here’s what I’ve been doing about it:

  • Mark emails as “BAC’N
    It’s not spam but also not urgent, so I remove from the inbox but leave it unread
  • Articles and links go to a Todoist to do list
    If it’s more urgent I may set a due date, then I close the tab
  • Set time aside to get to as much as I can
    Timeboxed and go in date order so I don’t miss time-sensitive items like sales or world events

I move them so they don’t take brain space, they all go to the same place so I stay organized, and I can mentally let them go because I know I’ll get back to them later.

Time to read!anchor

I chose a weekend day where I’m more relaxed and able to concentrate, and I timebox myself so I don’t end up going down too deep a spiral to the detriment of other things I’d like to get to in the day. This is definitely the hardest part and something I still struggle with.

When I do get to reading through this backlog of content, I do a few additional things to help me parse quicker, remember important things, and plan ahead:

  • Something I want to save long term?
    Great ideas, methodologies, and projects I may want to refer back to, for example. I add it as a clip to Evernote, it captures the content in the page so I can more easily search for it later.
  • Something I need to act on?
    A great sale coming up, something I want to participate in, or share with others. I either do it right then and there, or I make a todo to address it at a future time.
  • Something I realize I’m not interested in?
    Especially for longer lists or articles I start by skimming through, if I realize it’s not something I want to spend time on I give myself permission to let it go and move on.

It’s Workinganchor

No more unreads in my inbox.

No more tabs slowing down my browser.

I feel a bit more connected and a bit less overwhelmed.

It’s been a handful of weeks and I’m fairly certain if I didn’t have this organization in place I wouldn’t have made the time to discover some really interesting projects, thought provoking articles, and a couple good sales. I’m so glad I did.

As I finished drafting this, I realized it’s an unintentional follow up to Email Newsletters – My Emotional Response Spectrum and Organization Strategy. If this article resonates with you, you may enjoy that one as well, it’s a deeper dive on how I tackle the onslaught of daily emails.

What do you do about the constant stream of articles, links, and emails? I’d like to hear about it, always on the lookout to keep refining my process!

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