How Coping With Information Overload
It’s been said that the average New York Times Sunday edition contains
more information than a person in 15th century England was exposed to
during their entire lifetime.
In the information age, our minds get bombarded daily with so much data
that we start filtering it out as a self- defense mechanism.
On the Internet, the information overload gets so severe that it seems to
bring out the ADD (attention deficit disorder) in all of us.
To make things worse, expect the avalanche of information we must all deal
with online to start coming faster and harder and to never, ever stop.
Unlimited amounts of information available online represents a truly
double-edged mental sword.
On the good side, you can find out virtually anything you want about any
person, place, thing, fact, problem and more. On the bad side, since you can
find anything, many people get lost and caught up in “everything” and
never accomplish much.
In fact, most people end up drowning in a sea of information when all they wanted was a simple drink of water.
To help you effectively deal with the never-ending torrent of online
information, let me offer 3 simple solutions that will profoundly affect your
ability to get things done.
First, operate with a clear purpose for what you plan to accomplish online.
Many people start out with a vague idea of what they want to accomplish
on the Web and end up wasting hours surfing aimlessly.
One simple solution: write down your purpose for going online on a sticky
note and put it on the side of your monitor.
Simple purpose statements like “Check email” or “Find map to Detroit” or
“Research where to advertise my blog” can save countless hours by
reminding you of your true purpose for sitting down at the keyboard (and
keep you from wandering off to explore Britney Spears or The Simpsons).
Next, if you do want to go off on a sidetrack away from your original
purpose, set a time limit.
Kind of like recess in kindergarten, give yourself a set amount of time to
run free, but then get back in the classroom and get back to business.
Typically, I give myself anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to roam, but only if I
think it will bear fruit for my purpose in the end.
I also force myself to honestly answer the question, “Does this really fit with
my purpose for being online right now?”
If not, then I goof off for about 5 minutes and then write down the idea,
website, or topic for future investigation.
By the way, a simple egg timer works great for this.
Finally, if you ever find yourself online without a purpose, but can’t seem to
stop surfing or searching, simply get up from your computer and walk
away for a few minutes to clear your head.
Often this represents the fastest way to stop yourself wasting countless
hours in meaningless activity online.
Bottom line, implementing simple strategies for dealing with information
overload online now will pay huge dividends in peace of mind and time
savings in the future.