I’ll tell you the story of what I’m doing in order to conquere information overload and how to be fairly successful no matter how much information you’ll be presented with.
I’m probably not the first to tell you that it’s hard to get anything accomplished between watching TV, reading and answering email, listening to the radio, reading print media, blogs, chat rooms, news feeds and social media, not to mention text messages and good old fashioned phone calls.
I read somewhere, can’t remember where at the moment, that the average person spends about nine hours a day using some sort of media. If that’s true, people would need a system to get things done.
Now, let me tell you my system, and how I conquered information overload.
Accumulating information from multiple sources is a good idea if you’re writing a report or a book, however if you’re simply looking to access the local weather and traffic report, one medium can surely provide that information. Set your information priorities and then determine the single one or two sources to acquire that information each day.
Choose the right tools and resources
There are a lot of amazing tools and resources available to help you gain quick access to all the information you need. For instance, a Tivo will let you record predetermined television shows. An RSS reader will let you pull feeds from blogs and websites you subscribe to and most email clients will let you label and filter your email messages so you know which ones are important and which ones can wait until later.
Set a limit
If you discover that a particular medium drains an abundance of your time, (it could be social networking or email) you should schedule your time with those particular sites. For instance, instead of leaving your email open you can choose to access it at lunchtime and again at the end of the day. Social networking can be set aside until later in the evening and you can give yourself 20 minutes each morning to read the news or watch it on television.
Take information vacations
As I’m writing this, I’m about to leave on a 5 week vacation. I won’t have access to the Internet for 5 weeks. Guess what? I’m really looking forward to it. As you’re reading this, I’m on my vacation (I’ve scheduled this post to be published a week after I’ve left).
Whether you turn off all media for a day, for the weekend, for a week or for 5 weeks, taking a vacation from information will help you see that you can in fact live without it. This break will help you set priorities and get your life back from information overload.
Organize and label
Email messages can often be sorted and labeled and even stored in folders so you can access them when you need them. Other types of information, for instance blogs, newsletters, and content you receive can also be sorted and organized for easy access. This process saves you time from having to consume information when you receive it. Now, you can access it when and if you need it and save yourself valuable time.
Ultimately, you’re in control of your time and the information you consume. Set priorities, use the tools and technology available, and keep yourself organized for a streamlined and stress free approach.
This is what I’m doing, and it works for me.