The things every high-achiever should know
What you will gain from this post: Strategies to prevent and reduce information overload in your life.
In the spirit of this article, I will keep my writing to a minimum. The vast wealth of the Internet allows for unprecedented access to information. However, when taken too far and information comes flying your way faster than you would prefer to process it, information overload results. This type of overload is not fun. It prevents you from retaining valuable pieces of information because of the sheer volumes of information you are exposed to. It can also stress you out if you feel obliged to skim through everything that comes your way. Here are a few strategies you can use to reduce information overload in your life:
1) Only follow 1-2 blogs or resources on any given subject. Unless you are beyond convinced that you must read 3 or more resources on a given subject to gain your desired level of knowledge, pick 1 or 2 favorites and stick to those. Nobody likes visiting Google Reader and seeing 100+ new articles and blog posts to read because you were too busy to check it in the past few days.
2) Find like-minded friends whose opinion you can trust. This is an often underutilized strategy for reducing information overload. If you and your friend have very similar political views and your friend loves to keep up with every nuance of politics, why not trust his opinion on political candidates and save yourself many hours of research? In today’s hyper-specialized world, no one has time to be a specialist in everything. A group of knowledgeable friends that share a lot of your interests will allow you to focus on your passions and core competencies (your strengths that are central to who you are), rather than trying to learn everything about everything.
3) Actively disengage from information sources at least once a day. Information overload can go from bad to worse if you let it pervade the entirety of your day (think Blackberry or iPhone). Having technology that gives you access to your e-mail, work, and the Internet at any given moment is great, but be sure to draw boundaries to reduce the stress associated with always being connected. Once a day, find the time to turn off your phone, disconnect from the Internet, and spend time doing something that you enjoy. It can be anything from reading a book to going for a run to eating dinner with some close friends. The feeling of uninterrupted de-stressing is a great way to manage information overload.
4) Consciously make a lifestyle decision. More often than not, information overload is a result of choices you made regarding your lifestyle, such as your career. The above tips are designed to help reduce information overload in your personal life. If your career demands that you be connected to your Blackberry 24/7 and read 30 publications related to your field on a weekly basis, information overload is essentially built into the job. Many people don’t mind this because they truly love what they do. Others slowly break down from stress and the inability to escape a field they aren’t too excited about. Changing jobs and even careers is certainly no small task, but if you aren’t happy because of your career, it may be time to take a long, hard look at your overall goals and priorities in life, and align your career with them.
Call to Action: Dissolving Information Overload (Estimated time: 12 minutes)
1) Take a tally of where you’ve experienced information overload in your own life. Write it down on a piece of paper. For each example of information overload, write down next to it whether it is a personal source (blogs you love to read, being involved in too many clubs, multiple passions and hobbies that require lots of reading) or a career-related source (studying for the LSATs, career-related publications, dealing with 100 e-mails through the day on your Blackberry, etc.).
2) Determine if any of the steps above may improve or eliminate the feelings of information overload. If not, spend a minute or two thinking of any methods that may work for you personally. Then be sure to put those ideas into action without delay.
3) Mark down on your calendar, one week from now, a reminder asking if you’ve put any of these ideas into action. If not, repeat steps two and three until you’ve been successful.
I'm Jon Guerrera, a life hacker at heart, and the man behind the scenes here at Living For Improvement. This blog documents all of my successes, failures, experiments and lessons learned as I hack my way to happiness, fulfillment and success.
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Unlimited Drive is the result of four years of diligent research on what drives people to achieve great things. I always wondered how the most successful people in the world could reach such high levels of success and accomplishment. Well, I found the answer and wrote an ebook so I could pass it on to you (for free).
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