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Information Overload

Information overload seems to be coming up in a lot of my conversations lately, I’m not sure if it’s one of those things that once you start looking you see it everywhere, or if it’s that we’ve all gotten so overloaded with stuff because of changes at our jobs (doing more with less), or if there’s more stuff out there to sift through, e.g. Twitter feeds, Facebook updates, LinkedIn updates and group questions, etc.

Anyone have any thoughts?

The Knowledge Worker Toronto group (there’s a link on the left-hand side) that I organize with Martin Cleaver and Connie Crosby is actually having an event in August to discuss Information Overload. It was a topic suggested by member Ben Hong back in June. We’ve asked our members to share tips and tricks and what they have found helps either on a personal or a professional basis, it should be a great event.

There is so much stuff to sift through and figure out what is important, and what’s important to me may not be important to you, how do you decide?

2 thoughts on “Information Overload

  • Jack Vinson July 26, 2009 at 08:46 PM Reply

    In my view, information overload comes from the mistaken belief that I need to monitor absolutely everything. Or that I need to monitor everything all the time. (It works out the same way, if I believe one or the other.) The solution is to stop consuming all the time. Pick a time to read email during the day, like 10 am and 2 pm. Allow yourself 15 minutes with Twitter. Read newsfeeds at an appropriate time. SKIM SKIM SKIM.

    More importantly, pick the thing one thing you are going to focus on and do that. Then take a break (for email, coffee, Twitter, etc). Then pick the next thing.

  • Malcolm Ryder July 26, 2009 at 11:04 PM Reply

    Information overload is like having too much money in a place where there’s nothing much to buy! The secret to coping with it? On-Demand Information Reduction Techniques (ODIRT). This is based on the principle that in these circumstancs, whether you pay attention to the money or not, there still won’t be much of anything to buy. Here are my favorite ODIRT best practices, and another guiding principle.

    1. If faced with two pieces of competing information, assign one of them “heads”, the other “tails”, and flip it. When the coin comes to rest, you will instantly know which piece of information you really wanted to have, based on whether you are annoyed or not at what the coin says. Use the one you love; love the one you’re with.

    2. Unless you’re creating something, most excess information shows up under the guise of some problem. But there are only three important kinds of problems in the world: (a.) other people’s problems (not mine!)… (b.) problems that WILL not go away… and (c.) problems that go away by themselves. Identify the problem category at hand, and only stress out if there is still any information left over.

    And for the second guiding principle: when information is free, only bums will have information. Don’t be a bum.

    Now, back to your regularly scheduled broadcast.

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