I have a new experiment. Starting tonight, I’ve done the following things:

  1. Unsubscribed from all unnecessary email subscriptions.
  2. Consolidated all of my email accounts into Thunderbird.
  3. Turned OFF the automatic download and notification feature.
  4. Disabled the Gmail “You have mail!” icon in my web browser.
  5. Eliminated all unnecessary icons on my Blackberry.
  6. Turned my Blackberry to “Phone only” so it only notifies me if there is a call.
  7. Put myself on a media ” diet”. 1 hour of entertainment -only TV a day, no newspapers, only the headlines on the front page, no magazines. No blogs that aren’t directly related to the work I am doing at the time.
  8. Deleted any email in my inbox that is irrelevant (which, it turns out, is most of them).
  9. Made a to-do list for tomorrow that has only two items on it that MUST get accomplished.

Okay so I didn’t come up with this idea myself. Yesterday I spent my iTunes gift card from Santa on the audiobook version of “The Four Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss. These are but some of his recommendations for eliminating the information overload in your life so you can focus on what is really important to your business in fewer hours per week, so you can get back to living your life. It’s a strange concept for the 9 to 5 culture to grasp. Of course there is more to it that just getting rid of your info-clutter, but you’ll have to read the book to learn more about that. I’m not here to pitch his book.

So does this mean I’m going to disconnect from the world? Of course not. I’m just going to connect to it on my terms. Instead of getting emails AS SOON as they hit my inbox, I’m going to only check it a few times a day and deal with them then. Timothy Ferriss checks his ONCE A WEEK! I’m not quite ready to go to that extreme just yet. I’m cutting back gradually. Like quitting a bad habit. As for my cell phone, it will still be on, and anyone who may need to reach me urgently knows who they are and they can always call me. And those email subscriptions I never have time to read? Gone-za!

The media diet is a tough one. I’m a news junkie, and today was not a good day to go cold turkey. The shocking assassination of Bhutto is everywhere, and it’s all I can do not to surf the news sites, flip back and forth between CNN and CBC, and go into blog overdose. Timothy Ferriss gets his news from the front page headlines, and by asking people about what’s going on (and, I suspect, provoking some interesting conversations in the process). I proved this theory with today’s big headline, as my friend Caroline was the one who informed me about the assassination story. See, didn’t even have to flick on the tube!

My to-do lists are usually about 20 items long. Now they have to be 2 items long. ACK! But you know what, it is forcing me to only look at what is really, critically important. And the rest, well most of the time it’s just busy work.

My experiment will eventually turn into a habit, or at least that’s what I’m hoping. My goal is to be way less busy, but WAY more productive. My only question now is, what am I going to do with all this free time?