I stopped processing news because most of it is the same “dog bit man” stuff, with few items being of interest to me. I found that I heard about important things from people around me, either in conversation or from aggregation (like blog posts, but more journal stuff, not RSS feeds of news sites). Then, when I want to know more about that important bit, I go and research it in longform.
This has the tendency to make me more informed that others about any given subject, and it also allows me to cut down on speculation inherent in a news cycle. So that covers the world. I subscribe to about 30 feeds, and only a couple of them are high volume (one is about portable computing, because I like seeing the gadgets coming down the line, but I don’t need to actually think about them much).
For my own brain, I’ve cut back on interruptions. I use jabber, of course, and that is the primary way folks can get my immediate attention. While I tend to be in my inbox for work, I don’t check my mail automatically. And having just written that, I am now determined to not check my work mail as often.
When I was freelancing, I checked my mail twice a day. It works, because nothing actually happens if one doesn’t check their mail more often. When I check my mail, it is to process it (and I put it in external systems for processing, such as creating tasks on Guild Works, or delegating to someone else). If something catches fire, folks will text/call me.
I am split on “social media”. I think visiting forums and writing like this is about what I can handle. I appreciate these big public databases of searchable messages, but as tool of distraction, I am not sure there is anything as disruptive to my focus than social networks.
And I just counted the feeds I sub to: 14, 2 of which are personal blogs, and the rest are project blogs (changelogs and new releases).
@tim, something I’ve started doing to feel like I am ingesting the right information is sign up for Blinkist. They do summaries of non-fiction books that can be heard or read in 15 minutes. I am considering paying for the full subscription, because that is worth it for me, but the free version does a book a day, which is pretty interesting if one is looking for something random and educational.