How many times have you looked at something, thought “That’s just way too much information to digest” and ignored the entire thing? Or sat down to complete a specific task and realized that you don’t even know where to start because there is so much to focus on? Do you wish there was a way to eliminate information overload? It happens to the best of us.
Don’t let it happen to you! (Or if you’re already there, let’s dig out together).
Six Easy Steps to Eliminate Information Overload
1. Grab your beverage of choice, and power up your computer (pad, or smartphone, or whatever device you’re working off of).
Personally, I’m a fan of coffee or kombucha, depending on the time of day. Everything is better with coffee. And if you’re overwhelmed by a large volume of information, you’ll likely start off a little less overwhelmed working off a computer rather than a pad or phone.
2. Download everything and save it in one place.
Create a “dump folder” and sweep everything that’s overwhelming you in there. This is equally applicable for email clutter as it is for any other digital clutter. I like to title this folder “All the Things.”
3. Do a quick scan and delete anything you know you won’t use.
Is it something you will realistically ever use? If not, delete it now and forget about it. If that’s too hard, create a sub-folder titled “Delete.” Then set a reminder for 90 days from now to delete that folder. (If you’re not already using a task management or project management tool, an easy way to set a reminder is to send yourself a digital calendar meeting invite or mark it on your printed calendar.) If you haven’t used any of the files in 90 days, the chances you ever will are slim.
This should take less than 2-5 minutes, unless you have a ridiculously large number of files (and by ridiculously large, I’m talking into the several hundreds or thousands).
4. Create a folder titled, “For Immediate Use.”
Do a second quick scan and move any files here that you know you want to use in the immediate future. Be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what you actually have time to use and/or truly need to use in the immediate future. In a majority of cases, this folder should not contain more than 3-5 items.
5. File any remaining items in your existing file structure, or create a folder titled “Save for Later.”
Do you have a robust file system in place? If so, file any remaining items accordingly. If not, create another general folder titled, “Save for Later.” Set a reminder for 60 days, and repeat the review process for this folder.
6. Close all folders except your “For Immediate Use” folder.
You have now prioritized what information truly matters right now. Take a deep breath, and dive in!
Have you tried these strategies to eliminate your information overload? What’s working for you?