Overcoming Information Overwhelm

During high school, one of my English teachers said that there was a point in history when you would have been able to read everything that was ever written, but that now it’s impossible to read everything in several lifetimes dedicated solely to learning. This is an important fact to keep in mind: You can’t read everything.

It’s also true that you can’t read everything you’re interested in. Letting go of that desire helps you free some of the overwhelm you could be experiencing.

You can let tweets pass by your timeline without being read, or miss some Facebook posts, or allow books to gather dust on your bookshelf. It’s all OK.

What matters is that you dedicate regular reading/learning times, so you can actually consume information rather than give up because the reading piles are too damn high (and growing).

Another factor that contributes to information overwhelm is the failure to balance consumption with creation. Reading a single book and writing a book review can feel much more rewarding than reading 5 books. Going through 10 web tutorials won’t be as satisfying as writing 10 lines of code.

Thinking about creation helps you filter out a lot of reading material that might not be relevant to you at the moment, and allows you to focus on applying what you learn.

Since I decided to publish articles daily for 30 days, without worrying about what subject to write about, I decided to start reading the books I have, without being too picky on which ones to start with. I’m happy that I overcame my reading bottleneck, too. I am now listening to audiobooks on my way to/from work. I don’t take too long to decide what to listen to, as long as I’m listening to something useful that I can benefit from right now.

Do you experience information overwhelm? What has helped you overcome information overwhelm?

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