Digital overload and ways to maximise the use of time

With emails and cheap storage, you are overloaded with information. Just imagine the thousands of reporters and editors churning tons of information on a daily basis. It is impossible to read, process, and remember details anymore.

We also have more channels than ever before to communicate with strangers and colleagues on a real time basis. There is now no excuse not to respond. Your colleagues can send read receipts, and they can even track your “blue ticks” on Whatsapp. If this is not enough, there are apps to track your location. Life is fast becoming transparent.

When you are asked to deliver something at a moment’s notice, you sacrifice quality of work. This leads to a gradual loss of control. It’s no longer easy to explain why you need more time. Bosses and customers know the information is easily available on Google. But that is precisely the point. 

Everyone can churn information on the internet. The curation process is non-existent. It takes time to consider which pieces of information continue to be valid.

There are some simple ways to mitigate information overload. Be very selective on the information you keep. Let go.

Keep a clean email policy. You don’t need 1000 emails. Sort out emails and eliminate duplicates. Try not to print. Use a simple tool to save and sort content. Try Evernote, or Microsoft One Note. Or simply create more email folders. But always keep your inbox down to the bear minimum.

Avoid to-do lists. To-do lists never ever give you a sense of priority. At best, it remembers you of the tons of work you have not completed. Conscientiously keep one or two tasks alive. Focus on the big wins and let the rest flow along. I’ve read advices to do small tasks quickly – if it takes 2 mins or less, do it first. This is inefficient in my opinion – task switching is expensive and tiring.

Use lastpass or any password tool. Recalling passwords and retrieving them is a pain. Can’t explain how much time you can save if you use a systematic solution.

Write simply. Use active tense. Say what you need to say in the shortest possible way. Save your adjectives and description for another that should never come.

Read from highly curated sources. I read only from WSJ, FT, and other credible mass media. I’m not trying to be a media snob. But if content is free and my time is limited, I choose to read from places where editorial processes are in place.