Drinking from the Firehose

I heard a comment on a podcast a couple of weeks ago that has really stuck in my head. Seth Godin was asked how he deals with the feeling of being overwhelmed (i.e. with too much work to handle). He put it brilliantly:

“Drinking from a fire hose is a really bad way to get hydration”

In the way that only Seth can, he then sums up precisely how crucial it is to get the signal-to-noise ratio right in your life. He doesn’t spend minutes/hours scrolling through the constant Twitter or Facebook updates; he doesn’t go to meetings if at all possible; nor does he spend time watching TV.

He points out that people tend to go to 3 – 6 meetings a day – so it’s no surprise that they then feel overwhelmed by the work piling up in the background. Whereas the reality is that most meetings aren’t actually necessary – a short email would have the same effect…

In other words, being stressed out from being too busy is a systems problem. Seems related to this point that I retweeted earlier today:

How many of us end up auto-consuming YouTube suggestions for hours on end? Reading through Twitter updates in search of that one golden nugget of a post, seeking knowledge or outrage (or ideally both)? And how much time can we each honestly say that we spend with the levels of concentration that allow us to do deep work?

So if things are a bit hectic, maybe you need to start avoiding those water cannons and start pouring your own drinks.