February 20, 2007

Too Much Information!

Our world is filled with more information that at any time in our history. At the touch of a button or the click of a mouse, we can have more than enough information to leave us stupefied. E-mails, blogs, articles, books, etc. are all right there begging to be read, seemingly digested, but then quickly forgotten.

One of my strengths has always been the ability to take a huge amount of data, sort it quickly, and find the most pertinent and interesting. I have the ability to get a lot of things done in a short period of time. One of my friends remarked, "I don't know how you have time to do it all! You seem to read everything." But the past week, I have been feeling overwhelmed by all the information.

My Google Reader was filled with unread posts and articles. I have a couple of piles of books that scream at me for not reading them but borrowing more from the local library. I also have a lot of freelance work to catch up on and to get moving on.

So I began cutting. I began ridding myself of all the extraneous stuff.

Here are a few pointers for cutting out the excess:

1. Refocus on your priorities. What is it you want to accomplish? What are the top three to five things you want to do? Is what you are doing accomplishing one of those things? Your priorities should set the pace. If you are feeling overwhelmed, chances are you are not living according to your priorities.

2. Begin cutting. If you haven't read it, used it, or referred to it in a while, chances are it isn't worth holding on to. I found there were about 15-20 blogs that I just didn't read except for maybe 1 or 2 articles over the past few months. I cut them because 1 or 2 articles in a month is not worth the 5-6 articles a week they send to my RSS reader. You may have to do this to your e-mail or the files saved on your computer.

3. Give yourself permission to NOT DO something. Many people talk about a To-Do list, when there should probably be a longer list called the To-Don't list. This also extends from setting the right priorities and then following them.

4. Take a break. You may be feeling overwhelmed because you are tired and pushing yourself too hard. Take a break, get some sleep, spend some quiet time alone.

So how do you cut out the clutter and begin to streamline? How do you organize? What principles do you use to help you cut out the extraneous stuff?

Every so often we need to step back

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