I work with a lot of high-achieving people, and they are really intent on being the best in their fields and staying on top of all of the information they need to know. Unfortunately, there is just way too much information for them to possibly consume… and that leads to "READING GUILT." There is this expectation that they must consume all of this information and catalog it in their own filing systems, and when they can’t, it is a big "SHOULD" hanging over their heads causing stress.
I worked with a client this week that had saved a huge bin of industry magazines from 2003-2005 that were "To Clip," and we discovered it while working together. There was also a huge stack of recent ones that also had come through in the meantime! We have to conclude that the "someday" will never come when she is going to get back to those old publications. It will be amazing if she gets time to go through these recent ones alone.
Here are 3 ways to put the brakes on your "Reading Guilt" and manage that pile:
- Skim through the table of contents initially when you receive a magazine to see if there are relevant articles that are important right now. You can quickly tear those articles out and discard the rest of the magazine, or you can just flag those articles with a sticky note. You might even find there is nothing of interest and you can get rid of it!
- Realize that all of the publications you subscribe to probably have an online version of their content, and most importantly, that content is INDEXED and SEARCHABLE. (I bet your filing system of clippings is not indexed and searchable!) Learn how to log in to the member areas of your publications’ websites and search their archives. Some publications are making electronic-only subscriptions available that would eliminate your magazine pile-up. Save your online discoveries by making PDFs of the documents instead of printing them out.
- Prevent the pile-up. If you find that you have not read a magazine for 3 months, you need to strongly consider unsubscribing. Get realistic about what you have time to read. If you haven’t read it in 3 months, it can’t be that crucial to your life or work. If you just like it anyway, make it a treat to pick up a copy at the newsstand when you have time, like when you go on a trip.
How can YOU tame the tower of reading material this week? Share your comments here, and members can join in our message board discussions for direct advice from our team about your situation.