7 Rules To Ward Off Information Overload

Everyone, individuals and organizations, is struggling to keep pace with the accelerated rate of change today. While in many cases the speed of communication in things like data  delivery, acquisition, and dissemination has helped us make great strides in many areas, the rate of comprehension is where which bottlenecks have jammed up and pose as a huge source of stress and anxiety. There is so much information out there and it comes in so fast, how do we keep our heads and stay clear-headed when we get so much conflicting, compelling, and even alarming data?

Check your sources.
Facebook is the most popular social media  site in the world. Anyone off the street and on their mobile can  make a post and have it go viral. The key word being ‘social’, unconfirmed or even  false information can then trend and spread like wildfire.   While you rely on your Facebook account to keep in touch with friends, family and your other social circles, don’t count on it to be an utterly reliable source of information about the world.

You need information to make a decision, to tell you more about something you’re working on, or interested in. When you  find sources of information, you need to know you can trust your sources not to let you down with the information you get from them.  Don’t just take anyone’s word for it. Do  your research.  Verify your source’s reliability and experience.  Make sure you can trust your sources of information.

For example , when you hear talk about industry leaders, like Warren Buffet — people who are known as  Big Names, you know these people make the news and stand out because of their performance in the field. They’re popular not just because they’re publicized, but they did the work that created so much influence, it brought them to the forefront of their peers. Their work made measurable differences. The fruits of their labor speak for the quality of their work.  Their work  simply works. That’s why  people are willing to shell out thousands and thousand of dollars to attend a meeting with Buffet.

There a thousands of websites offering their information freely out there, and like as not you can easily find the info you need after a few quick searches. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean it’s good. Check your sources.

Calibrate your radar. Don’t pay serious attention to everything that presents itself to you.
We are exposed to countless bits of  advertising daily.  If we  didn’t learn to filter them out, they’d be competing with all the other information we get: push notifications, email, phone-calls, meeting requests, etc. It’s SOP to have spam filters so you don’t have to wade through useless email cluttering your inbox, right?

Calibration in this sense asks you to refine the standards of what should merit your attention. Don’t let the urgent displace the vital. We can get so involved in answering and  handling little things that hit our radar, we lose sight of our important goals and go off-course. Worse,  we can run into problems that we could’ve avoided had we  simply kept paying attention to the right things.

Shift your focus to closing the loop.
Don’t overcompensate when it comes to data. You need data to make a decision, get the data you need, make sure it’s  from a reliable source and that it answers your questions. The pull the trigger. Make the decision, and close the loop. Open loops  keep looping — they occupy your attention, and take up processing power and willpower.  Don’t rest on the information: data isn’t action, action is action. Closing the loop frees you to move on and do the next important thing.

Decision fatigue is real. When you focus on filtering and organizing data you devote energy to the process.  The place where we get bogged down and lose energy is deciding which information is important, or essential. We  can stall on the information and not reach the action stage which the data is supposed to help you execute.

Be ruthless in protecting your self-interests and your energy.
Attention is currency online. That’s why we track visitors, sign-ups, re-tweets, re-blogs, follows and likes.
Energy is the currency of life.

When it comes to information, what you get sent can be filtered. What you choose to focus on and engage with can distract you from doing what needs to get done.

When you have a list of priorities, you have a list of competitors. ‘Prior‘ actually means ‘before‘. When you really want to make something A priority, you put it BEFORE anything else. A list of ‘priorities’ can play catch-up, competing for attention, and nothing important gets finished. You get stalled in your goals for all the  time you spent. Be aware of the tiny things could slip in and nibble away at your true focus and interests.

Boredom is part of work.
Working on your goals gets monotonous, but it’s part of the process. Don’t let distractions habituate your brain into broken focus.  Don’t let micro-fantasies from new data lure you away from doing the work. Protect yourself vigilantly from all the things sent your way to get a piece of your time and your energy. You need that for yourself  and for what matters to you.

Don’t fixate on perfection.
There is an issue that contributes to the stress we bear when it comes to information : it concerns the mind-set that if you just get all the information right, you can make the perfect decision. But think about this:

  • Certain types of information can get stale or outdated quickly.  Your opportunity to act can also  disappear quickly. What’s more  valuable to you in the end?
  • The perfect is enemy of the good. You do not have to make a perfect decision,  you just need to make a good one.

 

Crucial information is nothing without action.
Information without action is data. We all have our electronic hoards of stored data we hardly ever refer to, there’s no guilt in that. But in the day-to-day working of our lives, we need to cultivate a discerning eye towards our information habits. Collecting information isn’t action. It isn’t learning or mastery. Are your information habits  helping you, or subtly holding you back?

To summarize: Use these following practices to help you keep calm and focused when faced with too much information

  1. Check your sources.
  2. Calibrate your radar. Don’t pay serious attention to everything that presents itself to you.
  3. Shift your focus to closing the loop.
  4. Be ruthless in protecting your self-interests and your energy.
  5. Boredom is part of work.
  6. Don’t fixate on perfection.
  7. Crucial information is nothing without action.

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