Thursday, July 15, 2010

10 Tips for Managing Information Overload

Yesterday at the BLC conference I presented on how to manage information overload. Together we looked at the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment for this all to prevalent problem. Here is a list of 10 things you can do to keep your Online life under control.
1. Have compassion for yourself - We are all works in progress, don't be too hard on yourself if you don't know everything. No one can know everything. It is OK Not to know.

2. Measure - There are many tools that you can use to measure your use computer use. They run in the background and will give you data on the sites you visit, the applications you use and how much time you spend on each tool.

3. Set goals
- Before you open up a browser consider what you are hoping to accomplish.

4. Triage
- Filter on the way in, not on the way out. Look through your email and create filters so that not everything comes in to your inbox. For example, if you are CCd on an email you probably don't have to look at it immediately. Filter those messages into a separate file to look at later. Also check out Howard Rheingold's resources on mindful infotention.

5. Ask a Librarian
- Don't overlook the human resources in your own building.

6. Don't check email until lunch
- If you are the fastest responder to a problem, you will get all the problems. If you wait to respond, they may figure out their own answers.

7. Be effective, not just efficient
- Being efficient is doing things right, being effective is doing the right things. Make sure you are doing the right things right.

8. Use a productivity tool
- Applications like Evernote and Remember the Milk can help you to keep track of all your tasks and information. You can learn about other productivity tools here.

9. Mark as read
- Don't be afraid to go through your reader and mark everything as read. Start fresh. If it is important it will come back up to the top.

10. Take time outs
- Explore the Pomodoro technique which suggests you use a timer and set it for 25 minutes of work time and then take a 5 minute break. And, during the work time you keep track of your distractions and take a look at when they occur and what they are.
Do you have a good strategy for managing your information overload? Have you tried something on this list that has worked for you? Please leave a comment and share it with us.

image source:


John Peters said...


What a great post. I think we could all take something from what you say. The hardest thing for me is to unplug. Occasionally, I have to take a break, even if it's only for a few hours. Sometimes it may be a day or two. That gives me the opportunity to recharge my batteries a bit and come back refreshed.

Nicky said...

Thanks for these useful tips Liz! I especially like the one about setting goals - simple but effective. I find being an avid Twitter user that info overload has got lot more acute for me, and I hear the same thing from
a lot of educators. I blogged about this very topic (info overload) a few months ago, and see that our posts nicely complement each other :-) You can check the post out here:


devry university chicago said...

Thanks for the very informative post. Sometimes being in front of the computer all day really drains the brain and overloads it with too much information. I also make sure that I take breaks. It's bad enough that our brains is getting information overload, we also need to rest our eyes.

Karen Janowski said...

I'm bookmarking this practical, useful post as I need constant reminders. One thing you mentioned that resonated is don't answer your email untill after lunch; give people time to figure it out themselves. This is an excellent point and helps build capacity and confidence within each district. We can't always be available to problem solve every issue if we want our colleagues to expand their knowledge.

K3Teachers said...

Liz, thanks ever so much for this great post. I particularly love the reference to Pomodoro technique and am going to try it out this week (spending way too much time in front of computer for work). Also love the time management tools referenced - am using Evernote and am going to try some of the other ones you mentioned.

thanks Liz - keep up the great work


Buy WoW Hunter said...

From a hard days work, you need to find yourself a break. Time to relax and free yourself from worries. Like for instance the nature of my job is really required me to sit in front of a computer the whole day. So, I need to have a little space in between work and break time. So, your blog is totally a big help and very much informative.