View random article

A Guide to Beating Information Overload

As we continue getting obsessed with new information sources and tools everyday, little do we realize that the plethora of information distributed by the plethora of sources is doing us more harm than good.

We love reading blogs, twittering, checking out RSS feeds, participating in various social media sites and much more. And it's not bad until it hampers your work and productivity. But the thing is that it does exactly that when we are too immersed in those sources of information and that's when we call it information overload.

There are more people suffering from information overload today than you can imagine. And beating it is no rocket science, believe me. You can consume lots of information and be productive at work at the same time.

Here are 4 techniques which would help you beat the information crisis you are facing.

1. Centralize Information Consumption & Sharing

It is very important to understand that new tools and sources doesn't mean new information. If you keep hopping from one information source to another, you are actually wasting your time because most of them would present the same information in a different manner.

Hence, decide on the sources of information and the way you would share them..and stick to them. If you decide on RSS feeds and twitter, good. Or you might want to visit a few websites everyday and browse through them while sharing great stuff on Facebook. That's great too. But just don't make it feeds, facebook, twitter, stumbleupon etc all at the same time.

There are people who do it and can manage it easily. That's because it's a part of their work. So don't try to be one of them if your work doesn't require you to be on social sites all day.

2. Use the Best Tools

There are various ways to consume information on the web and different people use different tools to satiate their hunger for information.

Try some tools and see if you find the best fit which saves time and makes you productive in consuming information. Consult friends if you want to know which tools they use.

But don't make it an endless search where you aren't satisfied with any tool or source. Select 3 or 4 and stick to them. As time passes, you'll find that you are gaining expertise in consuming and sharing information via them.

3. Disconnect and stay like that for a while

It's highly recommended to deliberately disconnect from the internet once or twice a day, especially when you have something important to accomplish.

Most of us who suffer from information overload problem are addicted to the internet and can't imagine going offline for a while.

Hence making an effort to separate yourself from the world wide web and instead take a walk or read a book would prove beneficial.

4. Prioritize and Work Accordingly

The problem with being online most of the time is that we fail to prioritize and separate what's necessary from what's a burden. And that is exactly why we get tempted to check every new tool and article.

The first step towards being more productive and reducing information overload is setting time limits. Set specific time limits for reading feeds, twittering, connecting on Facebook etc. Don't do it when you are working.

Make a priority list of tasks and keep the most important work first on the list. And allot it the first time slot of 15-20 minutes when starting the day.

Also it is important to treat your email as an information source and check it only twice or thrice a day at specific times. You would be surprised to find how much time you would save by not checking email multiple times during the day.

The above steps aren't the only steps required to beat information overload. But they certainly are the most important ones and can help you get started in organizing your information consumption habits and making you more productive.

Image credits - Daneel and Marco

Featured in Technology