Tips For Managing Information Overload

In the Blog Mastermind program, another topic covered by the Master the Mindset audios focuses on the management of information overload. In it Yaro Starak suggests some useful tips to help you work better. Being that there is too much information nowadays, sometimes making the choice to aggregate them can be more beneficial to you than harmful.

Where to Start

No matter what it is that you do, you consume information in various forms. Not all of them productive but in getting what you need, you have to know where to look. Online, the search engine is the filter which spits out for us the queries we input. Thus, without such a system we will be digging under news and bits and archives of which does not perform the functions we need to work efficiently.

This then goes for accumulating the information we need to process our understanding of a topic. So, say for example you’re searching for wordpress plug-ins on Google, Bing or Yahoo. As you want the most current and relevant information you would type in ‘top wordpress plug-ins 2010‘. Anything else and you might be seeing something older.

The results which best match your description will be shown on the first page followed by the relevant advertisements. Now a majority of them may be blogs. In fact, your query even includes a mix of reviews on article sites like ezines or squidoo. So you’ll glance over the first few sentences of each match and choose the one that best suits your need. Then you find some focused sites which you want to read, save or bookmark for later.

Ways to Manage Information

One of the ways Yaro suggests on how you can manage your information online is through a feed reader. This is also known as an aggregator. First, you want to make use of your RSS (really simple syndication). Through an aggregator, you put all the articles of your relevant sites into one place. By doing this you save time jumping from one site to another and all your sources are in one place for you to browse through.

There’s a really great post on how you can utilize RSS on Yaro’s blog, Entrepreneur’s Journey. It comes with a video which describes for you in detail what it is that you can do with it. Read it here. If you’re using g-mail, RSS can be utilized through the Reader which is part of your Google account. I use it personally and because it’s all in one place, I rather have a dashboard that allows me to switch on over if need be.

Next, Yaro talks about an offline approach towards information aggregation. This would be to network with speakers you find at conferences relevant to your topic. Yaro calls this a ‘people aggregrator‘ because that’s where you’ll find all the best thinkers and because it’s ‘straight to the source‘, there’s no better way to go about it.

With these two points combined, you have two forms of aggregators which can filter the information you want and save you time towards researching online and off.

Ways to Consume Information

As you utilize how information can be managed, you’ll want to consume information in the least amount of time as well. Yaro suggest two ways you can go about this – through the aid of a speed reader and an audio program with the speed feature.

I found that these were the most useful tips given towards managing my research. Note that these methods won’t necessarily mean I will work faster only read faster. So even though you’re reading faster, keep in mind you’re not working faster. You’re just consuming more.

There is mention of a rapid reader. This is what the big guys use to consume 4-5 books in a day. When I heard of this I was blown away. It seems that the tool can help you skim through docs, pdfs, e-mail and websites. Amazing. This also depends on the settings you’re reading at so based on where you are right now, it can be faster or slower.

Next, if you listen to a lot of downloaded audio, you can speed up the settings in your Windows Media Player or get a physical player with the speed-up function. This can save you lots of time in consuming the information you need as well.

Please note that the suggestions above are tips which you can manage and consume information with but in order to really be efficient with them you must also apply the 80/20 rule. Here’s a recap:

  • Sort sites through RSS subscriptions using an aggregator such as Google Reader
  • Find information straight from the source at conferences
  • Read faster with speed reading tools like the rapid reader
  • Listen faster to audio with speed functions, available in Windows Media Player
  • Apply the 80/20 rule to the tasks above

Apply the Rule of Efficiency in Your Research

Your approach towards consuming content should be task-oriented. So you would focus entirely on one area of information gathering until you accomplish it then go on to the next. If this sounds confusing to you. Please read more about how gearing 20% of your efforts can help you succeed in anything you do. You will see, that this will eliminate confusion but also help you retain information better.

The final tip Yaro suggests is that you spend your leisure time applying the tips towards entertainment as well. Here’s where I kind of branch off a bit. That’s because I don’t like to take my work home. I allow myself to drift off a bit because it gives me a cleansing and I come back more refreshed.

It may be different for you but finding how you work can help you identify when you’re most efficient. So whether you’re researching information constantly but find that it gets harder and harder to get through them all, having some management of your information online and offline can provide you with trusted sources of information. In turn, your consumption can best be utilized through speed reading tools and speed function audio players.

Remember to keep in mind the task-oriented approach. By applying the 80/20 rule you are eliminating any distractions and focusing on one task at a time. This goes true for anything you do in life too.

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