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You knew there’d be a punchline to that ‘Thousand RSS Feeds’ thing, didn’t you? One of the characteristics of the online environment is that it has the capacity to take over your whole life. Don’t let it.

Google Reader 35

My last blog post about the desert island discs of RSS feeds was about prioritising the information that you consume in order to do what it is you do for a living.

I found the 10 feeds that I couldn’t live without — but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there weren’t all that many more that even came close to that level of importance. I decided that if there really was a desert island of online information, I’d quite like to live there.

I mean, it’s one thing to be informed — quite another to be entirely inundated.

Pareto’s Law
Pareto’s Law says that at least 80% of the results come from at most 20% of the inputs. As it does with with most things, the internet amplifies this effect exponentially.

All the information I really need in order to do what I do effectively can come from far less than 1,000 news feeds. Less than 100 even. Less than 50.

I’m down to 35 — and that includes my Dad’s blog, my sister’s blog, the one with the cats, some avant-garde jazz to listen to and selected YouTube videos from New Zealand.

I figured that around 90% of my most useful and interesting information was coming from around 3% of my sources. So I ditched the other 97%.

This principle can probably be applied to most of what we do for a living — music industry or anything else. Have a think about all the things you spend your time doing, and figure out which proportion of that brings in the greatest results. See how much of the rest can be abandoned.

At least 80% of the money you earn will be coming from at the very most 20% of the activities you engage in. It’s more likely to be a 90:10 ratio.

Likewise the vast majority of your problems will be coming from a small percentage of the people you have to deal with.

This is a general principle I’ll leave you to think about. My job is to draw your attention to how this impacts upon your online life.

Why we use technology
I may be something of a fan of the technology, but if it’s adding to the problem rather than providing the solution, cut it out of your life and your business.

The purpose of being in the music industry is so that you can do what you love all the time, rather than have to take a job you hate in order to support it.

The purpose of being an entrepreneur, if that’s what you are, is to find ways to make money while you sleep, while creating value for other people.

The purpose of being a music industry entrepreneur is not to spend your life staring at a screen. The technology’s there to make things easier, more profitable, more personal, more wide-reaching and more automatic. It’s not there to add more things to do.

My 35 feeds can be checked in about 5 minutes flat. That’s a reduction of about 90%.

To keep it from getting insane again, the new ceiling is 40 feeds. If I want to add any more past that number, I’m going to make myself ditch something in order to fit it onto the list.

Tomorrow, instead of spending an hour staring at my laptop, I’m going to sit on the sofa and listen to a record while I have my morning cup of coffee.