technology

Don’t worry about information overload

Paper files. Photo courtesy of http://www.freeimages.com/photo/1370556 - some rights reserved

Don’t panic. This isn’t overload. This is opportunity.

Forget all the wails of agony about how increasing volume of information is overloading you.

Forget that there has been more than a lifetime’s worth of videos about cats related to Kevin Bacon making tea uploaded to YouTube in the time it takes you to read this sentence.

Information overload has been with us for centuries. Just look at the volume of books in a library. Since even before the discovery of electricity, there’s been far more information out there than we can consume.

But what is new in the digital age is the ability to search, find and filter so much information quickly. Which makes the digital world the answer, not the problem.

It means you can store huge amounts of information. You don’t have to file and throw away; you can accumulate electronically and search when needed.

It means you can rapidly ask large numbers of colleagues for help in remembering old information or finding new. You don’t have to keep on top of everything; you just need to know people you can ask.

And it means you need to focus on the positive.

Don’t worry about how much you’ve not read. Focus on the benefits of what you have read.

A few days ago I was proofing an article and needed to check the facts on a news story from a few years ago. A bit of Googling turned up hundreds of results – but reading just one gave me the answer I needed.

I wasn’t overloaded; I was sorted.