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How to master the flood of information

November 21, 2019
Reading time: 3 minutes

We have more information available today than people did thirty or even a hundred years ago. Not only the amount of information has increased, but also its availability.

In the Middle Ages it sometimes took weeks for information e.g. about the outcome of a battle to spread to the common people. Today, even in the remotest corners of the world, with a functioning Internet connection, one can access almost any information imaginable.

Various sites, such as a news portal, ensure that information is bundled. This saves the reader unnecessary searching for the latest news.

But this flood of information has its price.

Many people are overwhelmed to view relevant information and ignore the irrelevant ones. I noticed this myself. The decisive moment was when one day I read a friend's post on a well-known social media portal: "This morning I had coffee and scrambled eggs. Was tasty".

Then it became clear to me that I had wasted the 10 seconds it took to click and read the message.

From that point on, I completely reversed my view on information. It is not the message that determines what I do, but a goal that I support with information. This had also further effects on my point of view.

I have unsubscribed from all newsletters, feeds and social networks. Where I remained a member for career reasons, I reduced my activities to almost zero.

I only obtain information if it is relevant to my goals. And I also don't read up on knowledge for stock. An example:

I used to regularly read books on programming languages (I am from the IT sector). But before I could use it in practice, I had forgotten most of it. And I never retrieved most of the knowledge I had read in advance.

Now I do it differently: I set myself a goal. The path to the goal is of secondary importance at first. But if I am convinced on the basis of objective criteria that I can reach the goal, I break it down into individual steps. And it is only when this step becomes concrete that I obtain information. The advantage is that the information can be tested in practice right away and (as in the example of the programming language) practiced.

The consequence of this simple measure is that I have considerably more time available and do not deal with cat videos or insignificant information without ever achieving my goals.

A simple guiding principle that makes it easy for you to do this is: "Does this information get me further in my goals or not?