Woman reading newspaperThere’s no question that you have a great deal to read–and it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the sheer quantity. Here are some ideas to help you overcome your reading overwhelm–by simply removing many of the items you are potentially confronted with each day.

  1. Eliminate at least one magazine or professional journal to which you currently subscribe or purchase on a weekly/monthly basis. If your weekly news magazines are in a pile, this is a clue that they are not “timely” and that you don’t have time to read them. As far as professional materials go, in this day and age, nearly all journals, newsletters, association publications, etc. are available online. Should you ever need to read about a particular topic related to your work, you would be able to search the Internet and find what you are looking for.
  2. Go through your mail while standing next to the shredder, wastebasket &/or recycling bin. At home, if your mail is delivered to your door or to a nearby community mailbox, then the minute you walk into the house with your mail, go immediately to the recycle bin and drop in any mail that you don’t want or need. Have a shredder available for any potentially sensitive information.  At your college or university, there should be a trash can and recycling bin right by the office mailboxes so that all employees can immediately go through their mail and drop unnecessary items (duplicate catalogs as well as catalogs for items you are not interested in, junk mail, flyers about events that aren’t pertinent, etc.) into the wastebasket or paper recycling receptacle. Remember, only 20% of what you receive in your mailbox is worth opening (and some of that is still not worth reading once you open it). Get rid of 80% of your mail before you even consider opening it.
  3. For one week (or even one month!) throw away EVERY SINGLE catalog you receive. This supersedes #2 above….For one week, even if it’s a catalog you think you MIGHT want, throw it away. Discipline yourself. You have enough stuff and you’ll get this catalog again, don’t worry!!
  4. Contact the Direct Marketing Association to be removed from mailing lists. Go to http://www.directmail.com/directory/mail_preference/ for several options (on line as well as mail). It takes a few weeks for you to notice a difference in the quantity of mail you receive, but you will notice a lessening…and it will last for awhile, and then you will need to send in the address(es) again. Generally once every six months I save all the mailing labels from catalogs and other junk mail letters and attach them to a letter that I send into the Direct Marketing Association. It’s worth the time and effort. Now that it’s an online option, it may be easier for you! Work addresses are not able to use this, but home addresses can be deleted from mailing lists. Note: For business/ university/government addresses, especially when I receive multiple copies, I fax back the address page of all of them and indicate that I want to be removed from all (or I indicate which address I want them to use).
  5. Get off as many catalog lists as you can. The best way to do so (in addition to the suggestion above) is to access http://www.catalogchoice.org/. You can systematically begin to remove your name and address from various catalog lists (including ones that you receive at your work address). Not only does this save you from some of the reading/information overwhelm, but it also saves lots of trees and the gas it takes to haul all these catalogs to your mail receptacle.

So….which one will you take action on first?

Just try the tips above that make sense for you and your situation. Choose one and try that out, then choose another one that works.

I invite you to access a multitude of other timely tips to support your overall productivity as a professor.

Compendium of Productivity Tips for ProfessorsAccess the The Compendium of Productivity Tips for Professors a step by step guide that will help you have a successful year and a compelling career as an academic.

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