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Practical And Creative Techniques For Tackling Information Overload

Aug 18, 2007
Here we are, living in an age when vastly more information is more readily available to us than ever before. Thanks to advances in technology you can access that information 24/7 and in any number of different formats too. There is a fabulous abundance of information, throwing wide great realms of opportunity to those who are skilled at managing it effectively.

The question is, do you know how to effectively handle all the information coming at you? Or is it cluttering your space, your life and your brain?

The unfortunate truth is that the information opportunity can manifest itself as something entirely inopportune. The enormous daily onslaught of information can have the effect of blocking your ability to think clearly, to make positive choices or to progress successfully in life.

The difficulty comes when you try to store more information than you can realistically handle. There's only so much data you can make sense of in any given day, week, month or year, so when you try to cram more information into your head than it can make sense of, information overload occurs. Your ability to pick out the useful, relevant information from the clutter is hampered and you end up feeling muddled and stressed.

There is, of course, much information that you do need to store. There's also information that's of genuine interest to you and which you find easy to hold. But how much else are you trying to collect and hold on to?

The thing about information these days is that if you found it once, chances are you'll be able to find it again. You don't need to hoard it.

So when you think about the incoming information that's cluttering your brain, the best action to take is to stop it at source if you can. Some examples of this are:

* Unsubscribing from newspapers, magazines and newsletters
* Choosing not to read every single book in your heaving To Read pile and disposing of some unread
* Asking people at work who copy emails and memos to you unnecessarily to stop

If you can't stop the information at source, get some good filters in place. Just as you probably have a spam filter monitoring your computer mailbox, think of yourself as the spam filter in other areas of your life. Get ruthless and start to throw things away without even reading them first.

Using creative focus can help in the battle against information overload too.

It's obvious that creativity itself is unlikely to thrive when suffocated by too much information. Original creations, by their very nature, are distinctly selective. That's how they focus attention and create impact. When producing excellent creative output, one of the first steps is to make some form of selection as to what will be included and what will not. And it's not just a first step, it's an ongoing process - at every stage there's an element of choosing, clarifying, editing, honing and fine-tuning going on.

The same principle can be applied to your life and your work. Treat them like a work of art that you're crafting. Be aware of how the selection process works for you. Look with an artist's eye at your inputs and outputs. Get selective about the information you need and make sure you're not cluttering your creative efforts or your day to day life with too much information.

By allowing in only relevant, supportive and useful information, your output will improve as a direct result.
About the Author
Mary McNeil is an experienced, ICF-certified life coach, natural born planner and declutterer extraordinaire! She works with her clients on a variety of decluttering, success and creativity projects.
Her 30-day home learning e-course is jam-packed full with the knowledge and experience she's gained over years of one-to-one coaching with her clients.
Check out => Declutter Your Way To Creativity
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