FunnelI’ve always enjoyed funneling information – turning a large pile of data from many sources into a small piece of targeted information. Fortunately many of my jobs have reflected this; being analytical or research-based.

There are several ways to do this, and they’re changing all the time. My current regime includes :

  • emails for regular newsletters
  • XML feeds for blog posts
  • XML feeds for vanity searches
  • mainstream news from traditional offline sources (TV, newspapers, radio)
  • podcasts
  • analysis and affiliate sites (for information on my own site performance)

Although this may appear to be an overwhelming amount of information, it can be dealt with fairly quickly as long as a process is followed. In my case :

  1. A quick scan through emails is first up. This is to remove anything unwanted from the inbox (either by deletion or relocating to a different folder). This is closely followed by responding to anything that appears urgent.
  2. Next comes a look through numerous XML feeds. Google Reader is still my tool of choice, and the keyboard shortcuts make this a much more reasonable task than it may first appear. The goal here is not to read the articles themselves, but simply open the interesting-looking ones in a new tab; ready for the next phase.
  3. As you may have guessed, the next phase is to go through all of the tabs that have been opened, and respond to them as necessary. If they don’t look terribly exciting after a second glance, the tab is closed and forgotten about. If they do hold up, I’ll read them and write about them in the blog (NB : this process is repeated for each blog; I don’t jump around between them).
  4. The penultimate stage is to again wade through Google Reader, this time opening up pages I’d like to comment on. These may be the blogs of my friends, or the results of vanity searches.
  5. Finally, time to hit the analysis and affiliate sites. These sites provide information on the amount of money I’ve made that day, and a good idea of ways to make more. Any changes are acted upon immediately (on test sites, of course).

The other sources of information (podcasts, presence applications, TV etc) are considered to be forms of relaxation, and are slotted in whenever there is time. A podcast during lunch, a TV show during dinner.