I’m Claiming ‘Information Overload’

A row of newspaper dispensers on a city pavement

I recently reached a breaking point with my desk where I was physically unable to continue working. Everything I touched hit something else and caused a landslide. I couldn’t see the desktop through the clutter. Not to mention the fact that my stupid. . .errrr. . .bountiful. . .lush. . .plant was shedding everywhere!

I called a ‘time out’ shut my TweetDeck, minimized my Outlook and began the seemingly arduous process of cleaning my desk. Not surprisingly, there were a few documents to be trashed and a couple of publications to pass along to the next reader. However, I was a bit stunned to find the largest clutter monster was the heap of articles, blog posts and news clippings that had peaked my interest, been deemed ‘must reads,’ and sunk to the bottom of the pile. As I collected the articles into a folder and took them to read that evening, I came home to an even greater surprise – two more of these ‘must read’ folders. Guess what? Their contents hadn’t been read either.

While I was impressed to find no duplicate articles, I was appalled by the volume of information that I felt the need to consume. Do I like being overwhelmed? Must I know the points and counterpoints for ever PR, marketing, advertising and social media-centric phenomenon? Apparently, I feel the need to glance over them, at a minimum.

I’ve subsequently sorted the articles and put them in priority order, which at least diminishes the pressure to read it all now. But will it be relevant by the time I get to it?

I’ve tried leaving multiple tabs and windows open on my browser and sneaking in a read or two between tasks. I’ve tried printing the long ones for at-home reading and skimming the short ones online. I’ve even tried picking only two per-day to read. Yet, I’m claiming ‘information overload.’ I obviously can’t read them all despite a strong desire to do so. That’s where you come in. . .

How do you resolve being on the brink of information overload? Where do you draw the line between ‘must read’ and ‘want to read?’ I would really love to know because I’m going to be reading 2010 content in 2020 at the rate I’m going.

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