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How to Protect Your Relevance from Extinction

Relevance and the Short List

Tip 1 for Managing Relevance Overload

You can’t possibly know it all, so stop trying.

Part of staying relevant is staying on top of what’s going on. If you’re an input and learning junkie like me, that could be a full-time job all by itself. In my own field of human development within the tech industry, my “short list” includes LinkedIn, Harvard Business Review, Zenger-Folkman, Marie Forleo, Wired, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Vital Smarts, McKinsey, Talent Vanguard, Gallup, Sally Hogshead, Scott Adams, and Deloitte. There are innumerable other newsfeeds, conferences, published studies and reports, and fun-ucational videos I could be watching. As much as I love this never-ending flood of new information and ideas, it can be overwhelming.

My most recent strategy for managing my relevance is managing my information diet. I don’t mean cutting myself off, but noticing which of these sources nurture me and advance my goals. If I haven’t actively applied something from one of these sources a couple times a year, no matter how much I love it, it comes off my short list. I know it’s out there as a credible source. I’ll go back to it if I have a specific need.

Now here’s the kicker. I don’t even read much of what’s on my short list. Sure, there are a few that I scan as they come in and decide when I’ll read them more thoroughly. However, most go directly to a contracted research assistant who searches them for thematic keywords, creates an index, and reviews them once a quarter for trends. Then, once a quarter, I receive a digest to review. If something is still trending, I might decide to dig in more deeply. When a project needs it, I know where to go.

A few of these resources fall into a just-in-case category. Their posts go directly into an email folder I can search by keyword, rather than reading the whole post every time it comes in. Seth Godin’s blogs are a good example of pithy thought-bites that I want in my back pocket for inspiration. I’ve absorbed and assimilated Mr. Godin long enough that I don’t need to read him every day. Always good, always there, but right now, I need the others on my short list more.

Your short list might be longer or shorter than mine. You might have a hard time delegating as much as I do. Do what works for you. Set your goals. Then, look at your sources of inspiration and information very carefully to assess their value today. Always be asking, “Will reading this information now help me stay relevant?” If not, ditch it. You may be surprised at how little of what you deemed “essential” really is, and how much the overload is eroding your future place in the workforce. At least for me, taking control and knowing that my list is manageable has dramatically reduced my stress and improved my effectiveness.

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