Information Overload and How to Keep from Exploding

Andrew Maxwell is an Oregon based web designer and developer for Heka Interactive, LLC. This is the part of a series (I hope) of guest posts on the Exa-flood of data and how best to manage it. These are great tips to take with you into 2011.

“Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003.”

These are words spoken by Eric Schmitt, CEO of Google.

Information has always been a valuable subject since the first cave paintings thousands of years ago. Man has always had a thing about sharing and storing information, and today is no exception. Our lives have moved into a digital world and we are creating information at an astonishing rate. Our world has changed, now here’s how to manage it.

Stats: Information that we consume and create:

Ways to Eliminate Content Overload:

  • Narrow down the sites that you consume each day – Eliminating content that you don’t need will help get you focused and make the content that you do need more important
  • Eliminate time wasting activities – Remove games that you have to check multiple times a day or must see videos. After a few days without them you will realize that you never needed them in the first place.
  • Use a RSS Reader – A lot of time is wasted by visiting sites numerous times a day just to check for a status update, a new post, or news. Using a RSS reader will make it possible for those updates, posts and news to come to you. Now instead of visiting 5-50 sites, you just have to check one.
  • Set time limits when using social media – I myself even fail on this one at times, but setting a time limit when using Facebook, Buzz or Twitter will help you get back to what really matters… Your life.
  • Use cloud based services – Using cloud based (aka web based) services like documents, email, calendar and photo storage will allow having your information available everywhere you are. If you use a web based email and calendar client than you can remove yourself from constant interruption’s by new emails or calendar updates, simply by closing the browser tab.

Tools to use to manage your digital life:

  • Notes – Evernote is great for notes. It is simple and is available on various devices; Web, Windows, Mac, Android, Apple iPhone, iPad, the list goes on. Evernote is available where ever you are.
  • Office Documents – Google Docs is the perfect companion to work life. Google docs allows you to work in the cloud as mentioned above, but it also has a few benefits; Constant backup of your documents as you work on them, instant collaboration with co-workers or family and friends, security. You don’t have to worry about losing a thumb drive or laptop, all of your information is available online.
  • Website Feeds – Google Reader is perfect for collecting and managing your online feeds aka RSS feeds. Google Reader is cloud based and free so you never have to worry about buying or upgrading software. Google Reader also connects to many other services for added flexibility of your RSS feeds.
  • File backup and storage – Even though I mentioned above that working in the cloud will help eliminate content overload, sometimes you just can’t get away from having files stores on your computer. SugarSync is a cloud based storage solution. It will allow you to backup your files from your computer into the cloud so that they are accessible from anywhere that you have a web connection.
  • Email and Contacts – Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo Mail.
  • Calendar – Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar.
  • Tasks – Evernote, Remember The Milk, Google Tasks.

Simple Steps:

Don’t stress yourself out by trying to employ all of these techniques, choose a few and stick with it, you will see that it will help you manage your life. If after a while you want more control try adding another technique, rinse and repeat until you are happy with your digital content and you have gained your life back.

Here is the video of Eric Schmitt speaking my opening statement – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAcCIsrAq70

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3 Responses to Information Overload and How to Keep from Exploding

  1. Jason says:

    Excellent article Andrew and tips I could whole-heartedly agree with. RelativeProgress need to get you back again.

  2. Denis Labelle 1289955868 XGnV says:

    Finally, someone who talks in “WalMart” words for Average Joe like me.
    Very helpful, informative. Thank you.

  3. Jon Mallin says:

    Andrew, great post with excellent data points and examples.

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