How to cope with information overload

Every day we are bombarded with information.  Not long ago people could communicate with us in a limited number of ways; face-to-face, telephone or letter.  Now email, Twitter, Facebook, text messages etc. have made communication much easier.  However, the result of that is a much greater flow of information in our direction.  When you add onto that the data that reaches us in the form of news and mass marketing it is easy to become overwhelmed.  The temptation in these circumstances is to freeze or to procrastinate.  The problem with this approach is that it treats all inflows of information as equal and basically worthless.

Instead it can be worth considering (perhaps consciously initially) or even setting up a system for categorising response using the following list.  The questions are really obvious, but they can be helpful to ensure that we take the right action.

Appropriate actions when receiving any information:

  • Do? – do I need to or can I do something about this immediately
  • Delegate? – do I need to get someone else to do something
  • Defer? – do I need to make a note to do something at a later date
  • Download? – do I need to store the information, but do nothing about it
  • Delete – do nothing whatsoever, if you haven’t answered yes to any of the above, then it doesn’t matter!

Have you got any tips or tricks for handling information?

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2 Responses to “How to cope with information overload”

  1. Charlie says:

    Swap do and defer round…
    First question – should someone else better placed deal with this rather than me? If not then proceed round your circle.
    I’ve used David Allen’s GTD system form tears to manage a massive number of inputs, best system I’ve found.

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