When you enter a library or log online, you encounter a wealth of knowledge. You know that knowledge is a form of power, and you thirst for it.

But you have a problem: There is more power in one room than you can absorb in a lifetime.

How do you decide what to invest your time in and what not to?

You log online to check Facebook or Twitter. There are varying articles in your newsfeed. Some are about current events. Some are about business and self-improvement. Others are about science, technology, and futurism.

Yet, you only have so many hours in the day. You can only read but so fast, and you’ve come to terms with your personal limitations.

So, if you know that you can only read so fast and retain but so much…what do you choose to read? Every second you waste reading material that brings little to no value to you is a waste of life.

Some say that time is money. I say that time is life.

Meanwhile, this is not one of those scenarios of simple deductive reasoning.

If A = B and B = C, then A must = C.

Sure. That logic is sound enough in theory, but I wouldn’t say that money is life.

If “life” = “time” and “time” = “money,” then “life” must = “money.”

…yeah…uh…

…no.

Though, saving time does equate to saving life and money at the same time. And having money can help you live a happier life. But I wouldn’t connect them as all one and the same.

 

Clarify Your Intent Before You Do Anything Else

As a marketing strategist, I often juggle many clients at the same time. Sometimes, I’ll need to focus on one task, but receive messages relevant to seven others. All at once.

If I give in to the impulse to answer them all right then and there, my productivity drops. Even though I’m speaking to the clients.

When I begin to sense that this is happening to me, I take a step back. Sometimes, to reset my mind, I’ll even get in the shower. Even if I had already showered that day. On a busy, stressful day, I may actually take up to four showers.

The heat and the water hitting my limbs, neck, and back relax me. The process shifts me from beta brainwave state into alpha.

In alpha state, my subconscious mind puts things into perspective. I start thinking of things that I wouldn’t have before if I had kept straining my focus in the moment prior.

Things become clearer. I begin to focus on what’s important.

Then, I ask myself two questions:

  1. What is it that I need to focus on first?
  2. Why is it that I need to put that first?

The same concept applies to information overload in general. To sort through the buzz and bull, we need to take a step back.

First, we need to clarify two things:

  1. What is it that we’d like to learn? (Start off with a question.)
  2. Why do we want to learn it?

The “what” and the “why.”

  • The “what” synthesizes and organizes.
  • The “why” generates emotion and solidifies willpower. It also sets the mental framework for determining what’s important and what’s not.

 

An Example of Filtering Information By Asking What

What is it that I’d like to learn (today)? The answer to a vital question for accomplishing a business goal:

How can I increase my monthly revenue to $7,000 per month in a scalable way?

Ok. So…now, we’ve established the question. The question will synthesize the framework of what comes in and out of our filter. What we want to learn, and what direction we should go to learn it.

This is a question that has an answer that dives into a few different subjects:

Marketing strategy, and business development.

It involves marketing strategy, because one has to think of how to attract more clients, to begin with.

Then, it also goes into business development. This is because one has to think of how to service those clients in a sustainable manner. This may mean gaining knowledge of how to delegate new staff, or something like that.

So, now we’ve taken a moment to step back and clarify our intent. We know to skip any information not about marketing strategy or business development.

And not every bit of information in those topics is useful, either. So, it’s important that we keep the question clear in our minds. This is to narrow down what information within those two subjects answers it.

 

An Example of Filtering Information By Asking Why

Why do I want to learn it?

I want to learn how to increase my income to $7,000 per month so that I can pay off my student loans faster.

You can go deeper into your own psychology by asking why to the why. Why would I like to pay off my student loans faster?

I would like to pay off my student loans faster because it would increase my credit score.

Then, ask another why to that why. Why would you like to increase your credit score?

I’d like to increase my credit score so that I can be a more reliable man for my family. If I need to pull out an emergency loan, I’ll have the credit score to get approved. If I get approved, I can save the day for my family, if needed.

After that, ask yet another why to that why. Why would you like to be a more reliable man for your family?

I would like to be a more reliable man for my family, because my father was not a reliable man for me. I don’t want my family to suffer the way that I suffered growing up, in poverty.

You can ask an infinite number of whys. To go deeper and deeper into your own psychology. To discover the underlying emotions that drive you. Once you find that emotion through exploring your why, you’ll tap into grand willpower.

This willpower will not only drive you to discover the answer to your question. It will drive you to accomplish the objective that makes the question relevant, to begin with. When you tap into that deep emotion, self-discipline issues take care of themselves as well.

Harness Your Mental Filter

Once you decide what it is that you’d like to learn and why, the next steps are to do two things:

  1. Determine the path you’d like to go in to learn what you want
  2. Upon coming across every piece of information, ask yourself if it is vital to your path

But these third and fourth steps take care of themselves once you have the first two squared away.

What are your thoughts on this?