“You are a mashup of what you let into your life.” – Austin Kleon
Accessibility is one of the things we have more and more opportunities to obtain in today’s world. You can bring your office wherever you go thanks to the development of smartphones and tablets. You can have your data pretty much anytime, anyplace, and anywhere you want thanks to the “cloud.” You can have access to almost any bit of news or information you want whenever you want it.
But that’s also part of the problem.
Just because you can have access to something doesn’t mean you should access it. In his book The Information Diet, author Clay Johnson explains that while you can have access to all sorts of information, but it’s much wiser to be more mindful about what you access and consume:
“Like any good diet, the information diet works best if you think about it not as denying yourself information, but as consuming more of the right stuff and developing healthy habits.”
Being more mindful about accessibility allows you to focus on the task at hand. You’re not being pulled by something you could easily to have access to because you’re making a conscious choice not to stray from what you need to deal with at that time. That’s why I’m a big proponent of limiting — or even eliminating — notifications. Using the VIP function for iOS Mail or a service like AwayFind ensures you only get alerted by emails from those that you’ve designated as important senders. You’re allowing a certain degree of access in this instance, but because you’ve used forethought it’s been allowed in a mindful manner.
There are also situations where you want accessibility anytime, anyplace, and anywhere. One of these situations would be when you want to capture ideas, thoughts, and tasks. Whether you’re using an app like Drafts to grab this stuff or a simple Field Notes notebook to do the same, you still need to be prepared. You need to ensure you’ve got the capturing app of choice readily available, like on your home screen. You need to make sure that you’ve got a notebook and writing instrument with you at all times. You need to make sure these things are accessible so that you can be more effective and efficient with what you’re capturing. Getting these things out of your head and into something you trust is a critical component of all productivity methodologies, most notably David Allen’s GTD approach. This is just one example where accessibility plays a positive role in your personal productivity.
Ultimately, the systems you put in place will have an impact on all of this. Certain tools give you greater degrees of accessibility, paper included, and others don’t. Some tools scale well while others are rather limiting — and those limits aren’t always a bad thing. In order to decide what to access, when to access it, and where to access it, you’ll need to keep another word that begins with “a” in mind: awareness. You make the choices. It’s not the data, not the “cloud,” and not the information. It’s you. You’re the one that has the awareness, which means you have the power to decide when accessibility is a good idea or a bad idea.
So choose wisely. Your effectiveness and efficiency depend on it.
Photo credit: LeoSynapse via FreeImages