Do you also sometimes have the feeling that you are overwhelmed with information? I have, and it is stressful.
At one time I was reading:
- Financial Times newspaper
- more than 20 blogs
- at least one German financial newspaper
Weekly or bi-weekly
- Fortune magazine
- German financial magazine
- Institutional Investor magazine
- Euromoney magazine
- Two investment newsletter I subscribed to
as well as numerous other interesting articles and publications I came across.
All of this at the same time as I was researching companies identified in the publications, as well as in numerous stock screens I use.
What got to me eventually was the pressure of receiving the next magazine or newspaper while I was still busy, or have not even started reading, the previous issue. And this while already not having any more time to allocate to reading.
Of course holidays made the backlog even worse.
After having hardly taken any holiday for a year and a half because I was so busy I decided something had to be done.
The rest of the article is how I overcame information overload. I hope it can help you too.
Here is how I did it:
Take some time off to determine that is the most important tasks you want to achieve on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
For me that was:
Daily = Finding and researching high probability investment ideas.
Weekly = Writing a weekly newsletter
Monthly = Reading at least one, ideally two, good books on investing. Send subscribers an undervalued investment idea.
Take a look at the book called The 4 Hour Work Week it helped me a lot with this step.
Focus your most productive time on what you have determined is your most important tasks.
My most productive time is early in the morning. I usually start at 7:00 am. It is quiet, the telephone does not ring and there is usually no-one around to disturb me.
Determine what information you need to complete the tasks you have prioritised as the most important.
Use the internet to send you the information, from step 3, directly so you don’t have to look for it.
This can be done using Google Alerts and you can read exactly how to do it in the article How to automate internet searching in five minutes
You can also use the email alert service (if they have one) of the companies you follow. Look in the investor relations section of the company’s website or write to the head of investor relations and ask to be put on their mailing list.
Set up a process where you can easily find the information you have not read but may have to reference in future. Knowing that you can find information again reduces the pressure you may feel to read everything. This frees up a lot of time.
I got a really good solution from a fund manager friend in Frankfurt (thanks Frank), who gets bombarded with research reports and recommendations daily.
He solved his information overload problem as follows:
- All the information he receives gets saved to an external hard drive each week.
- He uses a free program called Copernic Search to index and make all the research information searchable.
Should he find a company he is interested in all he has to do is to type a few search terms and all the latest, relevant research reports and emails are extracted.
All of this without he having to read any of the research sent to him.
I have recently started using Evernote (free) which is great for storing information from the internet. It makes all articles searchable, PDF documents as well if you are willing to pay a small amount.
To lessen the time I spent reading I now scan through a magazine or newspaper, marking only articles that fit with the results of Step 3, for in depth reading.
What was the result of my re-organisation?
First I felt less pressure to read as much and I started enjoying reading again.
But more importantly – I was clearer as to what I needed to do each day…
and as a result…
I got more done and I felt as if I achieved more.
I hope this article helps you save at least an hour each day to spend on your family or something you love doing but have neglected.
PPS It is so easy to put things off, why not take a look at the stock screener right now?