Information overload…

March 6, 2011

But it is vital to remember that information – in the sense of raw data – is not knowledge; that knowledge is not wisdom; and that wisdom is not foresight. But information is the first essential step to all of these.
Arthur Clarke

I have been ruminating this one for weeks, months…  What happens to all the hours in the day?  Why can it take so much longer to complete some projects?  I have tacking how my days are spent, and I was surprised at how much time is spent sifting through information.  There are emails, newspapers, phone interruptions, books, research results on specific projects, etc.

I have an analytical mind, maybe a slight tendency to perfectionism, and especially a curious mind which generates a lot of questions, ideas.  This leads to an accumulation of articles, links, books, etc.  The amount of available information seems to have multiplied beyond our wildest dreams in the last 2 decades, creating an information overload.  My process seems to be in need of some tweaking.  I feel I need new filters for the information and possibly figure out how to narrow the focus of any search.

My current filters or filtering habits are:

  • different mailbox for each one of my jobs (i.e. school, home, etc.)
  • I use my phone for my personal mailbox only so family and friends can always get in touch with me though I am getting more disciplined to set time aside to go reply without interrupting the current task unless there is urgency
  • Only family and close friends have my cell number and know how I use it.
  • The home phone is unlisted, we have added caller ID, and hope that our new carrier will have the call blocker feature.  We are “trying” to only answer the phone during school when the caller is family or school related
  • try to narrowly focus web searches though I am finding the changes in search engines have disappointed me (that is for another post) and I am returning to my first love of books and our local library.
  • Set a time to go through emails when you have the block of time necessary to go through it completely, assigning tasks, etc. which for me can be up to 1 hour.
  • Just as I setup “stations” for learning, identifying the subjects at hand I am exploring creating stations for myself.

I followed two emails Friday which brought some interesting suggestions to start on this task…

Mindjet had a free coffee break seminar on Managing Email Overload…  Did you know that the average worker spends 50% of his/her time sifting information?  Mindjet MindManager is a powerful project managing, information organization, brainstorming tool.  It was a business tool which came out of storage when DS needed a visual, flexible project manager tool, and especially to “empty” his brain, start cultivating ideas, etc.  The seminar showed how Mindjet can be used as a dashboard for projects, linking with Outlook and filtering emails, tasks, appointments to bring in only those pertinent to the task at hand.  It seems like the solution for setting up virtual “stations” for myself.  I want to explore this software, learn more on the unused features it has.  What tools do you have/had if/when you worked outside the home or in you home-based business you loved and could help you now?

The second was a post to a blog I discovered recently with more timely suggestions on focusing, filtering, etc.  Check out Zen Habits for some insightful advice on achieving your goals, reach for that simpler more meaningful and meaning filled life.

I feel what I am searching most of all is a catalyst to bring all the pieces, all the ideas and systems together.

Have a blessed Sunday!

Updated March 7, 2011: I love when the information needed, the reminders or ideas arrive when you ask the question…  More on information overload on GTD Times today


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