This one isn’t about stocks but rather information and some of the new services out there that have changed how information is received, shared and put to use (sometimes.)
At the beginning of the year most of us weren’t using services like Twitter and social networking platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn have come a fair way over the course of the year.Â At the same time filtering services, alerts and Google reader are all very good alternatives to email for processing information.
Here are a few things to consider doing over the holidays (feel free to add more in comments!):
- Most people are on far too many email lists.Â This tends to make actually using email fairly difficult. Most services now have an RSS feed which means they can be received in a service like Google Reader.Â If you haven’t investigated Google Reader yet now is the time to do so and set yours up.Â Â Start at the link above.Â It’s worth spending a few hours doing this instead of reading your Sunday paper.Â By eliminating email subscriptions and putting them in your Google Reader you can spend time quickly scanning the news when you have time to do so.
- Eliminate some subscriptions but save the links.Â We tend to accumulate subscriptions that become junk because we can’t keep up with them.Â However we still have an interest so may not want to eliminate them entirely.Â One strategy is to out them into the Reader as outlined above but they can also simply be saved to shared book marking tool like Delicious.Â What’s good about this is that they can be tagged with your interest (like solar or dogs) and you can find them later.Â Also you’ll be able to see many other links with the same tags and expand your online resources when you find time to do so.Â Again it gets things out of your inbox and available in a better way for future use.
- Get a Twitter account and explore ways to use it.Â Twitter is basically a new service that posts short messages around to people who "follow" one another.Â Sometimes the services are not people but vendors like Amazon or Dell.Â There are many use models for Twitter but instead of getting an email from Amazon on the "deals of the day" if you are into that maybe it’s better to get a Twitter message about it.Â It’s easy to act on or ignore. No deleting is necessary.Â Twitter has a passionate following but it’s also a tool that should be in your communication arsenal.
- Set up and/or update your LinkedIn and Facebook accounts.Â These are free and useful services these days. LinkedIn works well for your professional contacts and Facebook is better for those that know you but may not be in the business world.Â (BTW your Twitter messages can be used to update your Facebook status, helping friends stay up to date with what you are doing.)Â There are also fairly vibrant special interest groups emerging on these platforms that are worth joining.
- In the event that you are somehow not already using IM and online collaboration tools get set-up on Skype or similar.Â These tools have the somewhat unique quality of detecting and sharing online presence and allowing real-time chat, discussion, video or information sharing to occur.Â They sit at the core of any high-performance team.
- Lastly if you have even slightly considered starting a blog this is a good time to get that set up as well.Â It’s just as important to have it so that others can communicate with you as you are with the world.Â Some of you already have monthly updates and letters that can at least start to serve as a starting point for a blog.Â We’re talking mostly professional stuff here but there’s a whole personal side there as well for those that get excited about it.Â There are lots of blog choices out there.Â We’ve used them all and prefer WordPress but they are all pretty good.Â Google Blogger is probably the most simple to use.Â You also might want to start commenting and/or writing a guest post or two on other blogs if you’d rather get started that way.
This is also a good time of the year to consider an upgrade to a time management tool of some sort.Â Lately we have been using Mac-based Things and like it quite a bit.Â Reading some books like Getting Things Done or the 4-hour Work Week may also help stimulate some better work habits in the new year.
In summary this is a good time to rationalize and prioritize your information processing and the new tools out there are important elements of taking full advantage of what’s out there.Â We left out as many as we included here so this is just a start.