Saturday, August 22, 2009

Information Overload: Focus on the essence

Why am I starting to write the first post of my own blog? What do I expect? What do readers expect from my blog? And who has answers to all that questions?

I just asked myself how many time one has to spend to be updated with all news from Facebook friends, Twitter followings, Xing and linkedin contacts, and all other interesting information sources. Summed up I

  • have 315 direct social networking contacts,
  • am subscribed to 30 interest groups,
  • am member of 4 organizations, associations, or institutes, and
  • have been in email contact with more than 1.000 people in the last 15 years.
Let's assume an activity rate of 5% for my email contacts and 10% for my social networking contacts. This will lead to some 80 active contacts - with one message a day resulting in 80 messages daily.
Let's further assume that the interest groups and other organizations publish 5 messages as daily average. This will lead to some 170 messages daily.
So I should deal with 250 messages every single day - that sounds quite exciting! This is probably even more exciting when returning from a 10 days vacation...
To make a long story short: it's just not possible to handle such vast amounts of information!
What's the solution of all of this? Focus on the essence in three steps:
  1. Read only the subject of an email, the abstract of a paper, the labels of a blog. Dismiss highly uninteresting topics instantly - do not keep them to postpone your time, just get rid of unimportant things.
  2. Cluster all information and try to delete as much redundant or outdated messages inside each cluster - this will reduce the number of messages.
  3. Dare to delete everything which needs no urgent attention - people will get back to you if it's really necessary.
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Focus on the essence:take care of the interesting, the new, and the urgent - simply ignore all other information.
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Try it and be agile!

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