Every morning I wake up around 4:30 am and start my day. My first two hours consist of hitting the gym and reading several newspapers and periodicals to stay up on current worldly events. I realize that the amount of information that one person receives in a day is exorbitant, so how can we possibly retain the best information?

According to a recent study performed by Dr. Martin Hilbert, a scientist from USC, we receive information at a rate that is equivalent to 174 newspapers per day! So, without realizing it, we are all becoming very inpatient with the information we receive. Enter opt-outs, unsubscribes or un-follows into our daily lives – a way to re-organize and focus only on the information we want to receive. (Click to read an article about Dr. Hilbert’s theories.)

The impatience I observe daily, with myself, my family, my employees and our customers, surrounds the ability to process and make sense of all this information. With the existence and addiction (for many) to 24-hour news and media outlets, our brains are processing at a much higher rate than in the past.

Two years ago while traveling in Washington D.C., I met Dr. Gerald Bell, founder and CEO of Bell Leadership Institute, in North Carolina. Dr. Bell is a resident expert on organizational leadership, who has studied and researched the characteristics of a successful leader for over 40 years.

We were only together a short time, but the following lessons helped me to focus on the right information and how it can make all the difference in my personal and professional life:

  1. It is all about listening.
  2. It is about spending time reflecting on the situation at hand, before judging.
  3. It is about helping others devise the right question(s) – as the question is more important than the answer, in many cases.

Incorporating these three “easy-to-remember” lessons into my daily life has helped me keep focus on the right initiatives for myself, my employees, my customers and my company. What suggestions do you have that help you keep focused in the digital information age?