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Go on a low-info diet and save time

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A low-information diet will help end the onslaught of time-wasting stuff coming at you, says productivity guru Laura Stack. A few ideas to get you started:

Watch that you don’t become a news junkie. “I’m shocked when people confess how much time they waste each day reading their latest blog postings.”

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, says he gets much of his world news from chitchatting with friends, not by keeping his eyes glued to news sites and blogs.

Never meet in person to give information. Instead, put that information on the intranet or compile it into a single e-mail that goes out once a week.

Save face time for high-value discussions and decision-making.

Process e-mail a handful of times a day. “I’m not recommending you only check your inbox once a day—I believe that’s unrealistic—but you should still try to cut down,” says Stack.

“What percentage of incoming e-mail is important? 10%? 25%? If the majority of incoming e-mail represents information you don’t need, why would you stop working on the most important task of the day to see if one makes the cut? You’re letting everyone else dictate your day.”

Make the decision now. “In the early days of my career, I just handled things for my managers without asking,” she says. “Sometimes it is much more efficient to go with the information you have, make the wrong decision, and make adjustments if necessary, than to waste time being indecisive.”

Cut, cut, cut. Cancel any magazine subscriptions you haven’t specifically requested. Let calls you don’t recognize go to voice mail.

Put frequently requested information on your web site, and tell customers where to find it.

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