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Filtering information: Tips & Apps



SUMMARY


Mails, calls, chats, reminders: entrepreneurs are flooded with updates, messages, requests, etc. every day. This makes it all the more important to filter this information. Here are some tips for everyday life.


CONTENT

  • 1. Set focus

  • 2. Filter relevant and important information

  • 3. Use social media with purpose

  • 4. Install a distraction-avoidance app

  • 5. Ignore information

  • 6. Practice Information Detox


1. SET FOCUS


Human attention is selective. Multitasking doesn't work, we can only focus on one task. For example, use the Pomodoro technique to get where you want to go in a short time.


On the other hand, it is annoying if you are constantly distracted in everyday life and realise in the evening that you have not achieved your goals for the day or have only achieved them unsatisfactorily.


But how can you keep your focus? By asking yourself this question with every activity you do: Is this activity bringing me closer to my goals?


With the answer to this question, you will quickly catch yourself in distractions and can immediately take countermeasures.


Here is an example:


During working hours, you click on an article in an online newspaper that you have come across. While reading it, the question arises in your mind whether reading the article will bring you closer to your goals for the day.


If the answer is no, then stop immediately and devote yourself to tasks that should actually be done during working hours.


Nevertheless, the pleasure of reading does not have to fall by the wayside. For example, the article can be saved as a bookmark and read again after the work is done.


This is a good way to deal with many activities, not all of which have to be business-related. Fancy a burger and fries? That might be detrimental to your goal of eating healthier. Basically, any temptation can be unmasked with the above question and counteracted in time to stay focused.


To make self-discipline easier, ask yourself in the same breath: What is a good alternative?


In the burger and fries example, this could be a fresh, tasty salad. A distraction through social media could be the concentrated preparation of a report that you have been putting off for ages.



2. FILTER RELEVANT AND IMPORTANT INFORMATION


With the help of time management and project management methods, relevant and important information can be systematically identified. This can be done, for example, with the Eisenhower principle, which sorts tasks into four segments according to importance and urgency. With this task sorting, information can also be filtered better.


Let's assume that the completion of a website relaunch is important and urgent. Then, of course, so is the information associated with it: Calls and emails from the agency that is in charge of the relaunch, for example. Or support answers from the hosting provider to your related questions.


Another effective method for filtering information is Getting-Things-Done: within fractions of a second, information can be sorted by project. This method even allows for unimportant information to be discarded or deleted over time. This way, they no longer tie up your attention and thus your energy.



3. USE SOCIAL MEDIA WITH PURPOSE


One of the biggest time wasters of the modern age is social media. From the point of view of the operators, this is intentional; after all, they derive their importance with advertisers from how many users are active on the platform and for how long. More interactions are therefore lucrative for social media providers, but time-eaters for entrepreneurs.


The solution is to use social networks in a targeted way. More generally, it helps to ask the question: With what intention do I log in to social media?


If you log in to social media thoughtlessly, you become the plaything of the algorithms: These are designed to constantly play exciting content into the user's timeline. However, exciting does not automatically mean purposeful. Therefore, it is advisable to use social networks efficiently and effectively, for example for this:

  • Share your own blog post

  • Content curation: focussing on high-quality content from your own network.

  • Social media monitoring (checking ads, responding to comments, etc.)

  • Participate in selected group discussions if this contributes to at least one business objective

  • Upload job postings


Being on social media should always be linked to a clear objective, according to which the information available there can be filtered. Anything else is a waste of time.

Therefore, prepare postings or teaser texts for the social networks already in a separate document, ideally with the link to be posted. Then all you have to do is log in and share the social media post via copy & paste. A quick log-out rounds off the goal-oriented, short visit to the platform.



4. INSTALL A DISTRACTION-AVOIDANCE APP


Technology can distract or help you filter information. For example, there are apps that help you focus and motivate you at the same time. A good example is the deep-work app Forest, which allows you to use the Pomodoro technique: A digital tree grows - but if you don't return to work on time, the sprout in the app dies. However, if you stay focused, you plant tree after tree until you have your own digital forest.


You will also be rewarded with coins that can be spent in the offline world to plant real trees. By the way, your own productivity pays off for the environment. Now that's motivation!


Another exciting app is TomatoTimer, which is also based on the Pomodoro technique: without installation, the user starts working with clearly defined timeslots. After 25 minutes, there is a break, and then the work continues in a focused manner.



5. IGNORE INFORMATION


Of course, responsible staff members should react in time to a customer complaint or a colleague's important call. However, certain information can and should be ignored. Intuitively, many people already use this method in everyday life: for example, with spam mails that are deleted immediately or with annoying advertising calls, where we are not afraid to end the conversation prematurely.


Entrepreneurs should also adopt a similar self-protection method in order to only allow the really important information to reach them. However, this only works if the entrepreneur is clear beforehand about which information is important and relevant for achieving the company's goals, as described in 1.


Ignoring thus becomes a consistent step to keep non-urgent and non-important information away from oneself.


For support, a secretary or a virtual assistant can still be brought in as a gatekeeper to filter the information in advance. You can easily find a virtual assistant on the web, but take some time to select one more carefully, because this person will have very personal insights into your life. Accordingly, the chemistry and trustworthiness should be right.


You can find virtual assistants on relevant portals for remote work, but also in Facebook groups related to the topic. A professional virtual assistant discloses his or her previous work stations and has expertise in your industry as well as in digital, for example in the areas of online marketing and SEO.



6. PRACTICE INFORMATION DETOX


On a regular basis, entrepreneurs should disconnect from the information overload and come to rest. Humans are not designed to be constantly confronted with new news. Digital media are an overload for our brains, which have evolved over millions of years, and we have to learn how to deal with them anew every day.


The developers of apps and platforms, on the other hand, know about the reward system in our heads and target it. This became particularly clear with Instagram's Like function: Scientists were able to detect dopamine emissions in Instagram users when they received likes. The same principle of the dose of happiness is used for addictions.


Similarly, there is a news addiction that keeps us excited with constant new news. This is not only harmful for concentration at work, but also for switching off and sleeping at night. Hard-working entrepreneurs are therefore well advised to give their heads a rest - in the form of a regular Information Detox.


In concrete terms, this can be done by taking simple, consistent steps. The most effective way is to simply pull the plug or press the off button on your smartphone, computer or tablet. That way you won't be tempted in the first place.


Many entrepreneurs have become addicted to their digital devices, so the very idea of being offline for a while drives them crazy. Ultimately, however, going offline radically is the most consistent way to implement an information detox.

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