Over at 43 Folders, Merlin's current focus is on "Fresh Starts and Modest Changes," or what I like to call "the antidote to New Year's Resolutions." One of his recent posts deals with clearing out the clutter we've allowed our live to collect: Cable TV subscriptions, the constant checking of Web sites (or their RSS feeds) for new content, and Anything of the Month Clubs.
My biggest time-consumers are RSS feeds and podcasts, with a couple of email discussion lists thrown in (but they deal with professional development in my career, I rationalize to myself). I monitor my RSS intake pretty constantly, throwing out unimportant feeds often and keeping a maximum of 20 subscriptions in my Bloglines subscription list at any given time. And I'm only subscribed to two discussion groups, the Finale list at SHSU (a forum for discussing the Finale music notation software) and the SMT-talk list from the Society fo Music Theory.
That leaves podcasts. And boy, do I seem to like my podcasts. I have been subscribed to up to 20 of these at a time, which kept me hoppin' with more Internet audio than I could even think about making time to listen to. So I've pared it down to just 4:
- Merlin Mann's 43Folders podcast (Updated very infrequently)
- Diggnation (videos) (A video podcast updated weekly)
- Jawbone Radio (updated infrequently, but usually at least one or two per week)
- Radio Leo (This is the big one, since it's actually a single feed that delivers all shows in Leo Laporte's podcast network. There are 3-5 updates per week in this podcast).
Also, I'm going to use the extra time I was spending on the MacCast, NPR's Sunday Puzzle, and The Word Nerds (plus several others) to read more. Books, I mean. I'm currently reading C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity, a book I've been meaning to read since I was a teenager, and it's great to get in the habit of spending time with books. I've missed it... I don't think I ever went more than 12 hours without a book in my hand (and this doesn't include textbooks) from the time I learned to read until I graduated from high school.
Oh, and one other thing on the "Cancel Something" front: I've stopped using my PDA (a Palm Tungsten E2). I recently got an iPod nano, and since it can carry out the basic functions of a PDA (i.e. store contacts, calendars, to-do lists, and memos) I've completely switched. Now, instead of pulling out my E2 every time I've got a bit of downtime and playing Pyramid Solitaire, I actually stop to notice the world around me.
By the way... I know that the nano doesn't have any data-input capability. That's why I carry around a blank index card as well for important "remember this!" data, which I input into my computer before my next iPod sync. Props for this idea again go to Merlin Mann (here's his article on the nano), self-styled electronic hobo and productivity evangelist. Link to Merlin's "Cancel Something" article follows below.