Technics for staying up to date

I have just read this post about staying up to date that I think is mandatory for any computer science guy (as I wrote in Spanish on a previous post related to research teams).

In the post the author explains two main ideas:

  • Nowadays you need to be up to date on your field of interest (the article is about web designing HTML5 and CSS3)
  • The amount of information you can retrieve from internet or classical sources is unmanageable.

So I am going to explain how I try to filter, store and spread the info I need to be up to date. One the reasons I have this process is because my available time for reading has been dramatically reduced by two (2 and 4 yo) demons, so efficiency is mandatory for my time.

Disclaimer: Most of the links are from spanish webs, maybe this is confused but I wanted to be fair with the sources where I got the info. And of course my english is very bad but I am trying to improve day by day.

FILTERING

In my case is clear all the info come from two main sources: email (Gmail) and Flipboard (iPad RSS and Twitter reader). And for comfortable reading I use Pocket. First of all is important to select the sources, I use lists on twitter to distributed the sources and I have an “under study” list where I put new sources under study before confirm them, if it is not satisfactory I unfollow them quickly,

Gmail

I have filtered all my inbox following some of the amazing advises that Berto Pena wrote on his blog about productivity. This reduce the time I need to check the emails. I regularly check the inbox that only has personal and VIP mail from my family and friends and once or twice a day check the mails from Social Networks (properly filtered and tagged), the tags online shops and social network are rarely checked. The I have another tags that are only checking when I am in specific situation like: travels, job offers, orders, etc.

With these filters I have reduced the number of emails to read to 5 or 6 from the hundred I had it before.

Flipboard

I have connected on Flipboard my twitter and google reader account, both are my main sources of tech info. The process is straight forward and clear, only read the tittle and the first lines then I know if this article is interesting or not if the answer is positive it goes to Pocket to a deeply read. The good thing is that even videos or images can be sent to Pocket. I spend about 10 min to check all the articles from twitter and RSS and send the main ones to Pocket.

Some people thinks that twitter is a perfect alternative to google reader and I agree on the theory but in practice some RSS sources have not twitter account (as thinkwasabi) so I keep both even with duplicated posts. For my OS X I am using feedly for Chrome that works similar to Flipboard on the iPad.

Pocket

I have no fixed time to read Pocket, when I have time and want I read it with no special order (that is important, for me Pocket is a set of articles to read not a stack/queue).

If the article has some interesting link it goes to Pocket too. And finally if the article is good enough it goes to my personal storage: Evernote.

STORE = EVERNOTE

Evernote is my powerful box for remember things, if you want to learn how to use it in a productivity way follow this link (Spanish only). Evernote is my GTD manager, task list manager, travel and order planning, ideas and references storage, etc. Talking about up to date is talking about references. It works on my phone (Android), iPad, Mac and Linux computers.

I consider that an interesting article completely read is a potential reference for future projects, ideas, post, conversation, etc. So I send it directly from Pocket to Evernote only with a title and no tags. The tagging process and the notebook to put it is very important for the future so I prefer not to do it after reading and consider it a separate process. All the unclassified things (untagged, unlabeled, untitled) goes to the INBOX (don’t confuse with GTD Inbox). Then, once and week of even less often I try to complete tag and refined the notes from the Inbox and assigned them to the proper notebook.

So now all the process from the source (twitter or RSS) to the knowledge box (Evernote) is finished and the update process is completed.

TALK

Just the same consideration that the original author gives on his post, talking is the best, fast and efficiency way to discuss ideas or facts and to receive valuable feedback from people you trust.

CONCLUSIONS

  • You need to be up to date no matter with is your field of interest.
  • To be up to date is not necessary a long time process.
  • The info you can retrieve is really huge.
  • Using proper tools you can fast and easily filter, classify and store the REAL interesting info.
  • Your productivity and efficiency will dramatically increase.
  • Your time to experiment, coding or generate new knowledge will be longer than before and full of new references. So you will be a better professional.
  • TRY IT, just do it, it has no cost and is easy.
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