Are You In Information Overload?

Sunday, December 9th, 2007 | Organization with
Posted by: Kristen Beireis, Trust Marketing Expert

There is so much information on the internet.  So many things to learn.  For those who are lifelong learners it can be very overwhelming at times, because we want to know it all!  If you are anything like me, you want to know it all NOW!  There is a lot to schedule into your daily and weekly routines.  It’s difficult to find time for those e-mails, newsletters, blog feeds and websites that you’ve been trying to read for the last month.  Not to mention your inbox that is piled so full, the task of reading all of them seems extremely daunting.  I would like to offer a few tips to help you clear out and get focused.

UTILIZING FOLDERS - Do you have an inbox folder list or are you one of those people that hides the list so you have more room to read?   I love folders.  I organize everything into folders.  In MS Outlook there is the Organize feature (Tools>Organize) which helps tremendously!  With or without Outlook, you can still organize.  When you check your e-mail put the new ones into a folder so you can handle them when you’re ready.  I have a folder for each of my clients.  I make sure all incoming e-mails are marked “unread.”  When I am ready to work with a particular client, I go to their folder and handle those e-mails.  I’ll still flag it unread if I want to respond later.  That way I don’t forget to do it.

As for the web browser.  Whenever you find an interesting website and just don’t have time to read it right away, add it to you Internet Explorer “My Favorites” (or “bookmarks,” in other browsers).  I have a long list of favorites folders, but I never forget a website as long as I add it in when I find it.  Each folder has a specific topic.  The most important thing to remember is to delete or revise links as you find they don’t work.  That way it’s always useful information.

SET ASIDE TIME - Every month, set aside an hour to go through your inbox folders and CLEAR OUT any information you don’t need anymore.  You don’t have to go through all of them (that could take forever!).  Just look through the ones that fill up the fastest.  My inbox, newsgroups and personal folders are the ones that fill up the most and need the most maintenance.  I have other folders that are just for reference.  Such as the file I have for technology information.  That folder has articles, newsletters and information that I will refer to often.  What’s cool is that I can find it very quickly when I need it.

READ IT OFFLINE - Some people are just NOT online readers.  If you are one of those, print out all the articles, newsletters and websites you want to read.  Treat them as your magazines.  Staple them or put them in a binder.  Then put them next to your night stand, on the coffee table or wherever you like to read.  You can even take it on the plane during your next business trip.

IT’S NOT NECESSARY to keep every piece of information.  I have a rule;  if I’m not looking for that information right now, then delete it.  You see, I have been known to keep e-mails just because I MIGHT need the information in the future.  I’m sure you can imagine how many e-mails began to pile up in my inbox!  Now, the delete key is my friend.

UNSUBSCRIBE - If you don’t read it, then get rid of it.  It doesn’t serve you to collect newsletters and blog feeds that you never read. It just clogs up your folders or your inbox.  Release the clutter and unsubscribe from all the newsletters and feeds that you just don’t read anymore.

So, are you willing to stop tolerating overload?  GREAT!  Start with clearing your e-mail.  Then as new ones come in start creating folders for the senders you will hear from regularly.  Create folders in your browser as you find new websites you want to have for reference.  If you choose to read offline, start printing out what your newest reading material.  Only keep the information you will use TODAY!

Everybody gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” - Gertrude Stein (1874 - 1946)

What are some tips you might add to this?  Share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear them!!

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