My last post discussed information overload and my contention that it’s the job of the communicator to help busy (and overloaded) people understand your message by keeping things short and sweet … and to the point.
Short and sweet will work great when you take 100% responsibility for communicating your message to others.
But what about when others are communicating to you? What happens when they don’t take the time to effectively organize their message? What do you do when they back up a dump truck load of information and simply raise the bed and let the entire contents fall directly on top of you?
In that case, you need an information filtering system.
Here are five ideas to help you develop your own information filtering system.
- Filter from the faucet and not the bucket. Set up a way to filter as it’s coming to you rather than try and collect everything and then start the filtering process.
- Decide if it’s useful or not useful. The first filter should be a yes/no analysis. If it’s useful, then keep it. If it’s not useful, then don’t keep it. This will eliminate the majority of incoming information immediately.
- Already have a plan. For a yes/no analysis to work, you must already have a clear understanding of your main goals and objectives. If it fits – keep it; if it doesn’t fit – discard immediately.
- If a piece of information is useful and you decide to keep it, then the next step is having several small buckets in which to keep it. Think about three, four, or five main categories or containers in which incoming information can be instantly placed. Don’t overanalyze at this step … just put the info into the most appropriate bucket. Apply a ‘tag’ or headline so that the information pieces can be easily evaluated in comparison the other similar info pieces.
- Rinse and repeat. Only this time, you’re analyzing the contents of a single bucket. All of which should already have a similar or common theme. Keep the good and discard all that isn’t relevant. Rinse and repeat again.
Since information is coming at us at a rapid, unending pace, a good strategy to process information is mandatory.
If you’re clear about what your goal and main priorities are at any given moment, then incoming information is either useful or irrelevant.
Discard the irrelevant – don’t worry about saving it for the future. Why?
Any information can be searched and found in seconds with a Google search. Google is the big giant bucket that contains all information.
Attempting to keep ALL information for the future is unnecessary – Google is already doing that just fine and dandy.
The risk of information overload from not having a good filtering system is very real in today’s world … and getting worse all the time.
And don’t forget, short and sweet … and to the point.
Next Blog Title: The Chicken or the Egg?
Next Blog Date: March 22, 2012