How to use the "firehose" to water your garden

How many blog feeds are you subscribed to? Do you read online articles related to your industry? Do friends forward relevant posts or articles to you?  Yeah, me too.

The daily onslaught of information can be overwhelming, but there's a reason you pay attention to all of that signal, right?  You want to feed your brain, grow your skill-set, and advance your business.  Here's how I direct the "firehose" of information into a usable irrigation stream:

Instant triage.  The second you receive input (an email, tweet, status update, blog post, etc.), delete the noise. For me, viral cat videos and articles about how to install WordPress plugins fall into that category. Face it---you're really never going to read that 15 page white paper on web design.

Make a place for "read later" stuff.  I've always had a "read later" folder in my email inbox, so I can instantly get things out of the way. But I can also go more high-tech, and send those to a note manager like Evernote.  When you're out cruising the web and find something to "read later," Instapaper is a great little tool (there's an iPhone app as well).  Google Reader is a good place to organize your RSS feeds.

Set up an action item list.  When you're reading that wonderful blog about how to join an existing community, you need to have somewhere to put actionable thoughts (like "finish filling out Twitter profile").  I have finally decided to stick with an iPad app called "To Do," but there are hundreds of other options, including plug-ins for your browser like "List.it," which allows you to turn any web page into an action item.

Know when to unsubscribe.  If you've deleted the last several blog notifications without reading the blog, it's time to unsubscribe. No-one's feelings will be hurt, and you'll have more bandwidth to devote to blogs you DO read.

Above all, fill your head with good stuff.  Stuff that moves you and your goals forward.  And then take action on that good stuff.

How do you organize your incoming information? Did I miss any good tools that are out there?

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I'd love to hear your thoughts here in the comments, or connect with me on Twitter.

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