Information overload and overwhelm are two terms that have become active in my vocabulary in the 21st century. I am a curious intellectual and a glutton for knowledge, and the internet is a smorgasbord of information. I guess I learned this from my father, who bought encyclopedias and subscribed to annual “Information Please Almanac.” As a boy I read most of the books on our home library shelves.
The Age of Overwhelm
Hunger for knowledge seemed like a good thing in the mid-20th century, when one had to physically go to the library (offline). Going to college was taken for granted in my family, and I went on to post-graduate school. In hindsight, considering the path (less traveled by) that my career has taken, college would have been more than enough.
If I read for 16 hours a day, it would take me decades to read the 1000+ books on my shelves at home. However, they sit on the shelves and gather dust, because I have fallen in love with the internet — the ultimate information overload.
Capturing and Storing Information on the Web
On the web, you can find out more than you ever wanted to know about anything and everything. I feel like I am almost drowning in the quicksand of information overload! My hard drives have been relieved lately by my use of “cloud storage.”
MediaFire gives you the most for free ( 50GB ) but your uploads will be limited to a mere 200MB.
If you just want an inexpensive service that can be upgraded, Google Drive has a good mix of the features you want. It’s got the main bases covered with clients for PC and Mac, apps for iOS and Android, and a web manager. Its free 5GB is enough for a start, and its upload size is only limited to a huge 10GB per load, which should cover most of your stuff. For only $2.50 a month ($30 a year) you can get 25 GB, and for $5.per month you get 100GB.
Evernote lets you Organize, Synchronize, Search, and Access from the Cloud as well as Multiple Devices
I do use Evernote, and I recommend it for those who want to store ALL KINDS of information, including notes, webpages, URL’s, and multimedia. Benefits include cloud storage and synchronization with multiple computers and keyword search and tags.
Social Information Management
Social networks and blogs constantly compete for my attention, and email — fuh-gedda-bout-it! Opt-in email “newsletters” have swamped my email accounts, and it would probably take many years to read all the content that is already stored on my several gmail accounts. Unlimited storage on Google and Yahoo has spoiled me. In the old AOL days, email would be automatically deleted after limits of time or storage capacity. I used to make folders and filters for email. Now gmail says, “Don’t worry about deleting anything. We will store it all and you can search for it whenever.”
The Bookmark “Black Hole”
For years I have created thousands of browser “bookmarks.” It is VERY rare for me to go back to look at the bookmarked content, and when I switched from Internet Explorer to Google Chrome, I didn’t bother to export the bookmarks.
Multiple Tabs Open and Some Helpful Tools
When I follow a tangential link and stumble upon an interesting webpage (which happens a lot!) I tend to leave the tab open so I will not forget to go back to read it “later.” It is common for my computer to bog down with up to 20 tabs open while I continue to move on, trying to stay focused on the original topic.
reduce tab clutter in Google Chrome.” It reduces the drain on computer memory, but keeps tabs handy.
“Tip for Getting More Organized: Don’t.”
The most refreshing advice I have read lately was in an encouraging article in Harvard Business Review by Michael Schrage, a research fellow at MIT Sloan School’s Center for Digital Business, called, “Tip for Getting More Organized: Don’t.” Michael says, “When it comes to investing time, thought and effort into productively organizing oneself, less is more. In fact, not only is less more, research suggests it may be faster, better and cheaper.” Basically, his advice is to use search instead of filing.
Please help me and others who may be drowning in information overload. Please share your suggestions for coping in the comments below. They would be greatly appreciated!