Data Run Wild: Dealing with Too Much Info
Aby Garvey | Simplify101
How many emails are in your in-box? How many magazines are in your “to-read” (or sift through again) pile? How many blogs or information websites do you peruse on a daily basis—just for fun?
Between magazines, blogs, websites, e-zines, pod-casts, books, newspapers, and T.V. shows, information overload is almost inevitable. It’s simply impossible to get through a single day without being flooded with new (and often exciting) information. The information is exciting because we seek out information on topics that interest us. You subscribe to e-zines on organizing because you’re interested in organizing. Right?
So while all this information is exciting—it comes with a bit of baggage: the information you collect represents to-dos on your mental to-do list. When you collect information, you collect tasks you want to do or feel you should do, even if that to-do is as simple as digesting the information in the newsletter or e-zine. Information overload sets in when you accumulate ideas at a faster rate than you can process them or act on them.
Here’s how it works. For a while, your idea backlog is inspiring. Then you reach a tipping point: your information starts to feel more overwhelming than motivating; inhibiting action instead of inspiring it. To avoid information overload, you need a new plan, a filtering system that allows you to hold onto the information you want and need, and filter out the irrelevant stuff. You will always have more ideas presented to you then you will ever have time to act on. So filter away the overload by keeping ideas that are inspiring to you, relevant to you and will help you in some way.
How does this filtering work? Well, imagine you’ve just finished boiling noodles for macaroni and cheese. You pull out your colander in an effort to collect the tasty macaroni and filter out the not-so-yummy pasta water. In the case of information, the yummy macaroni are those ideas that are relevant and inspiring to you. The icky pasta water, are ideas, that while in and of themselves may be wonderful, simply aren’t a fit for you now, for one reason or another.
Unfortunately, there is no magic colander you can pull out whenever information comes your way. Instead, you have to be your own filter. Here’s a simple formula using the word “filter” to help you separate the pasta from the water.