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3 Ways To Cope With "Information Overload"

It's been said that the typical Sunday edition of the New York Times ... contains more ... than ... person in 15th century England was exposed toduring their entire ... In t

It's been said that the typical Sunday edition of the
New York Times newspaper contains more information than the
average person in 15th century England was exposed to
during their entire lifetime.

In the information age, our minds get bombarded daily with
so much data that we start filtering it out as a self-
defense mechanism.

On the Internet, the information overload gets so severe
that it seems to bring out the ADD (Attention Deficit
Disorder) in all of us.

To make things worse, expect the avalanche of information
we must all deal with online to start coming faster and
harder this year and to never, ever stop.

Unlimited amounts of information available online
represents a truly double-edged mental sword for all of us.

On the good side, you can find out virtually anything you
want about any person, place, thing, fact, problem and

On the bad side, since you can find anything, many people
get caught up and lost in "everything"... which means they
never accomplish much.

In fact, most people end up drowning in the sea of
information when all they wanted was a simple drink of

To help you effectively deal with the never-ending torrent
of online information, let me offer 3 simple solutions that
will profoundly affect your ability to get things done this

First, operate with a clear purpose for what you plan to
accomplish online.

Many people start out with a vague idea of what they want
to accomplish on the Web and end up wasting hours surfing

One simple solution: write down your purpose for going
online on a sticky note and put it on the side of your

Simple purpose statements like "Check email" or "Find map
to Detroit" or "Research where to advertise my blog" can
save countless hours by reminding you of your true purpose
for sitting down at the keyboard (and keep you from
wandering off to explore Britney Spears or The Simpsons).

Next, if you do want to go off on a sidetrack away from
your original purpose, set a time limit.

Kind of like recess in kindergarten, give yourself a set
amount of time to run free, but then get back in the
classroom and get back to business at the appointed time.

Typically, I give myself anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes to
roam, but only if I think it will bear fruit for my purpose
in the end.

I also force myself to honestly answer the question,
"Does this really fit with my purpose for being online
right now?"

If not, then I goof off for about 5 minutes and then write
down the idea, website, or topic that distracted me and
leave it for future investigation.

By the way, a simple egg timer also works great for this.

Finally, if you ever find yourself online without a
purpose, but can't seem to stop surfing, searching, or
clicking the "send/receive" button on email, simply get up
from your computer and walk away for a few minutes to clear
your head.

Often this represents the fastest way to stop yourself
wasting countless hours in meaningless activity online.

Bottom lineArticle Search, implementing these simple strategies for
dealing with information overload online now will pay huge
dividends in peace of mind and time savings in the future.

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Jim Edwards is a syndicated newspaper columnist and the
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