What’s In Your Personal Learning Network?

Do you feel overwhelmed by information overload? If so, get over it! Your clients and team members expect you to consume vast quantities of information, pick and choose the bits that are most relevant to them, and present it in an engaging way.

Of course, this is easier said than done!

The only way to do this effectively is to learn from trusted sources in your network, rather than relying only on mass media or broad Google searches.

This approach even has its own name: your Personal Learning Network. Offline, this could be peers in a mastermind group, mentors, and trusted friends. Online, it includes the blogs you read, newsletters you subscribe to, podcasts you listen to, YouTube channels you watch regularly, and Web sites you visit frequently.

It takes skill to identify the most useful information and avoid wasting time with the rest. Here are some guidelines to follow.

Stop trying to know everything

You don’t even have the time to see in your lifetime all the material that’s published today. Stop trying to capture everything, and get over the fear of missing out on something important.

Unsubscribe from newsletters that don’t provide value, unfollow people on Twitter who don’t give you useful information, and unfriend people on Facebook. If in doubt, unsubscribe.

Choose your channels

There are many different formats – or “channels” – for receiving and consuming information, so choose those that suit you best. For example, I like reading (because I’m a fast reader and I can skim material quickly) and listening to audio (because I can do it in the car or at the gym), but don’t like watching video. Other people prefer video because they spend a lot of time on airplanes, and use that time to watch video.

Here are some of the main formats, with pros and cons:

  • Text: Very common, easy to skim, fast to download, requires attention and concentration
  • Audio: Can multitask, can listen at double speed to save time, not easy to skim, not suited to visual material
  • Video: Highest-quality information (combines text, audio and visuals), but slowest to download and requires dedicated time
  • Slide shows: Not as high-quality as video, but easier to grasp key information quickly

Adopt good reading habits

Look for ways to consume the material when and where you want, not just whenever it appears in your inbox, device or front doorstep. This means you take control, rather than being at the whim of the publisher.

For example, if you read a lot of blog posts, use a feed reader like Feedly to subscribe to your favourite blogs and an app like Pocket to save them to your phone or tablet for later reading.

If you subscribe to e-mail newsletters, don’t let them clutter up your inbox. If they have a blog alternative, use that instead. Alternatively, create an automatic filter in your mail program to send the newsletter to a low-priority Reading folder.

What’s YOUR choice?

Your method won’t be the same as mine, and neither of ours will be the same as anybody else’s. But you do have to make a choice. Your clients expect it, and it’s an important part of being the “go to” expert in your field.


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