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Date Stamp Your “To Read” Materials

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Date Stamp Your “To Read” Materials

I’m looking at my desk and there’s a book sitting on top of the recent Wired magazine, atop two other magazines. I’m looking at my del.icio.us bookmarking, specifically the stuff I didn’t have time to read at a specific moment and that I intended to go back and read later. My RSS reader (Bloglines) has a bunch of posts saved to read again later.

There’s not time to get to all of this, and as days go on, more piles up. What to do?

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Date Stamp Things

Give yourself a set date to consume these materials by. Make it something reasonable but firm. A week? If you’re not going to read it any time soon, pass it on. One great way to move books along, at least, is to get your books from your local library if you can. Libraries are a great way to set time limits on your consumption, and save money at the same time! Do you *really* need every book you pick up? Instead, determine which ones are in the category of “Oh, that was interesting,” and “This is my new MANUAL for life!” Order those last kind at some other time.

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Regarding del.icio.us, should you delete bookmarks that are more like “follow up” material than future reference? I think maybe. Otherwise, it’s just a little more data between you and what you’re seeking.

Magazines must be set free. They are dated, often have something you want to follow up, and otherwise are big packages of advertising. Use your GTD process to capture the things you want to look up, and then move the magazine on to someone else for consumption.

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RSS feeds should be pruned regularly. Do you find yourself skipping over the various posts in your feed, and really only reading posts from a couple of sources? Weed out the ones that aren’t really giving you much pause to stop and read. Remember, nothing is forever. If you want them back, you can go find them.

Your time is perhaps your most valuable asset. Everyone has the same 24 hours each day. What sets us apart is how we use them. Be constantly vigilant about what types of things are draining your time needlessly. And in this case, see whether date-stamping your materials changes how long you let them linger at your desk or office.

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