Many people insist we are now a society which operates on information overload, too much information and too little time.
Some might argue that writers, bloggers, and social media fanatics add to the problem of overload. Many of the top social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn rely heavily on carefully constructed sharing methodologies as well as specific algorithms for feeding information to friends, followers, or connections. Much of this might be an attempt to minimize redundancy and maximize interest, and some of it is to please shareholders through advertising, post boosts, and other pay-for-display promotions.
Do you feel overloaded?
Today knowing the answer to nearly any question is perhaps just a cell phone away. While there are many aspects related to how each individual person might manage their own information a few of the most common points of consideration include what we read, what we watch or listen to, and how we store what we want to remember. Some might suggest that there isn’t as much need for memory. Today you only need to know how to search for it and retrieve it quickly. Perhaps the development team for the IBM Watson would agree.
The Right Information
Many of us want to be sure we find the right information. We jump on “the internet” and choose a search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) and away we go. Suddenly we have millions of possible results based on our simple search words. How do we know what information to use or believe? Since I’m assuming you are not researching for an academic paper, or a master or doctoral thesis, you might be able to utilize just a few simple tips to help you narrow your search.
- State your problem. You must know and understand exactly what problem you are seeking additional information about.
- State your goal. Finding a picture and some information about a strange bug you saw on the sidewalk is different from building research data for a marketing strategy. Have a clear goal.
- Watch for push. So many people are pushing information at you, often trying to entice you for more. Balance all of the push information with pull information. Pull information is what you find and pull towards you. Push is someone else shoving it your way.
- Get specific. This one is simple, the more you refine your search parameters the less information you’ll retrieve. Filter what you want to see, read, watch, listen to, and otherwise take in.
- Verify sources. Academically this is absolutely critical, but again if you aren’t writing an academic paper or a book based on research you can relax your standards somewhat, regardless look for knowledgeable and trusted resources.
- Limit choices. Today, without a doubt you find more than what you can digest. Balance is the key to obtaining more information but not becoming overwhelmed by too much.
We can add many other things to this list such as not believing everything that you read or conspiracy theories that insist others are attempting to alter your state of mind. The list is certainly long, some of it might be true, some of it might be made up, but the key is not to get overwhelmed.
One last thing to consider for improving the use of your time and for minimizing information overload, if you are sharing information with others use links and share buttons, instead of recreating or cutting and pasting information, and in your office consider the effect of courtesy copy or blind courtesy copy on email communication. It seems that nearly everyone wants information, but not to be overloaded.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at Dennis-Gilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.