Mastering the art of skimming through

Overwhelming and time-consuming - more than 15 tabs...

I am writing this post while at the same time, in my browser, I have 14 tabs open, each with (probably) an interesting and important content that I have to consume in order to stay up to date with goings on in the marketing communications industry. All of these pages I have found on my twitter stream and list of renowned professionals.

Overwhelming amount of information

It is a great way to keep in touch and stay alert for essential new developments in the field. However, each of these experts have an incredibly active online presence and the amount of information coming into my stream can be, at times, overwhelming. I have managed to find a system with which I am able to follow them and check the insights they are publishing. But then, after I go through the list and open all the pages I find relevant, I am facing a browser window stacked with a huge amount of tabs and information, respectively.

Challenges

In this situation I am facing two challenges – I am tired at the end of the day and don’t want to spend an hour staring constantly at the screen; there is also the danger of loosing interest and getting bored with all the text and information, because it’s just too much, way too much. Somehow, I have managed to solve this. I started using the technique of skimming through the texts, saving precious time and keeping myself engaged into what I am doing. I will provide a few guidelines based on my personal experience.

How do I do it?

1) I carefully read the title, so I am sure I the information in the publication is really important and, most of all, it is relevant to me.

2) After I have opened the pages and start going through the articles I focus on the first paragraph – it should be compelling enough that it raises your interest and clearly outlines what the following content will be all about.

3) Look for headings. Headings are the best tool for quickly identifying the relevant part in an article and you can easily navigate to this part that you want to read about.

4) Focus on lists. Articles that contain lists are much easier to read. You can easily go through all the major points and if you need more clarification, then focus on the details. What happens most of the time is that you will be reading of things you have read already somewhere else, so, you won’t need to read in depth. On the other hand, if you find something completely new, you can devote your whole attention to it.

5) Read the conclusion. Usually at the end of the publication the author will be summarising the content, raising a new, challenging question, or ask you for direct action. Make sure you check out this part of the content.

These are my thoughts and techniques I use while skimming through all the articles I read daily. I would like to know what other techniques you consider valuable and useful in a similar situation. Let me know in the comments!

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