No one can truly keep up with all the data that comes your way each day.
There, I said it. Just about every health care marketer I know feels it, but many of us are afraid to admit it. We’re afraid of falling behind, afraid of missing a critical piece of information that will lead to a great new strategy, afraid of being seen as poor time managers, and probably afraid that somehow, the competition is doing a better job of keeping up.
But guess what? We are human, and as much as we hate to admit it, humans have a finite capacity to process information. Coming to grips with that reality led me to find a recent post from Dr. Bryan Vartabedian at 33 Charts very refreshing.
He says information overload will be the biggest challenge facing the next generation of physicians. He also has some great thoughts for doctors on how to regain a little control. I think we can all benefit from his suggestions:
Accept that you can’t keep up. Dr. Vartabedian says it’s a critical first step in making peace with the new world around you. I agree. It’s a little scary but also kind of freeing.
Understand the difference between what you want to know and what you need to know. Understanding the difference can alleviate stress. Dr. Vartabedian suggests putting information into two categories: core inputs and wildcard inputs. Examples of cores for him are clinical information on EPIC, 2-3 journals, 3 email accounts, and about a dozen blogs/news sites. His wildcard inputs include his Twitter feed, Google+, non-fiction books, and “other interesting things that find their way into my world.”
Allow time for serendipity. The core inputs are items you really need to stay on top of. Wildcards are “the gravy – they’re where I get most of my good ideas.” Try to be as efficient as possible in dealing with core inputs so you can get to the wildcards.
Create a system that brings information to you. “Surround yourself with brilliant individuals who will bring you what you need.” Dr. Vertabedian says he follows select individuals on Twitter and is experimenting with circles on Google+. I would suggest using TweetDeck to further organize your Twitter content. And I think Google Reader, which may seem old-hat these days, is still a trusty way to organize subscriptions to various publications, blogs and feeds. The format makes it very easy to scan without investing too much time.
Minimize noise. “The key to successful input management is the minimization of noise.” It’s hard to do, but eliminating information in all channels is critical. Stop feeling guilty about unfollowing people.
Even following this advice, chances are you will miss something. In Dr. Vertabedian’s words, “Get over it. Make peace with what you need to know and have fun with the rest.”