Are You Digesting Too Much Information?

Posted: January 14th, 2010

Photo by True2source (Flickr)

Photo by True2source (Flickr)

I came to a realization a while back sifting through my Firefox bookmarks… Am I really putting all those great articles and advice that I come across through tweets and stumbles to great use?

The answer is, sadly, not even close. I was essentially reading and forgetting as if I were reading newspapers.

I went as far as to give myself my own professional self-diagnosis and came up with the following: I was suffering bad indigestion from information overload.

Well, I found a little system that helped me make better use of the information I come across while, at the same time keeping my brain from shrieking. Hopefully you can use these, too, in the same manner.

1. Clean Out The Reader and Bookmarks

When having that daily peek at the list of subscriptions in my reader, I would always get that feeling as if I were doing a chore when thinking about going through that long ass list. Rather counterproductive I say.

It doesn’t take long to go through the subscriptions and delete out those blogs that haven’t been updated in two months or that you don’t find useful anymore. By doing this, not only will this save you time having to filter through to get to the articles of interest, but you’ll get back to looking forward to those articles as well.

The same goes for those bookmarks. Time to take inventory of the ones you really use and delete out those you don’t.

2. Don’t Bookmark Those Massive Lists

These are pretty easy to tell by the “100 Resources to…” title. These are often great compilations but the fact is you aren’t going to utilize every single one of those links. Plus, after bookmarking the page and referring back to it later, you tend to forget and have to read through the hundred items just to remember what you liked.

The trick is to take the time to visit those links that interest you inside the resource post and bookmark those instead.

3. Sorting The Bookmarks You Save

I started a rather simple method for bookmarking articles so they are easy to refer back to. First I created three folders where recent bookmarks I saved are kept for a review later:

  • Advice I’ll apply right now
  • Advice to apply later
  • Inspiration

These can be whatever depending on how you like to categorize. Rather than directly filing bookmarks to some random folder, where it likely won’t be seen or used again, I use these folders as a sort of holding pen so I can easily go back and see what I saved recently. This is of no use, though, unless you…

4. Consistently Review Your Bookmarks

On a weekly basis, I look through those folders I created and review those bookmarks, revisiting those links as well. Reviewing bookmarks a second time has the effect of putting those pages to memory. I can now file them away in another folder and remember where they are at in case I ever need to refer back to them again.

Sometimes you find that a bookmark you saved may no longer have any use. Now is a good time to delete it before you clutter up your bookmark folders all over again.

5. Use Stumbleupon To Save Links

Stumbleupon is a great way to have a record of all those links you come across. Download the toolbar andĀ  use the “thumbs up” button on any and all pages that interest you even if you don’t bookmark any for later use.

Once in a while, I’ll get the need to refer back to a page that I didn’t bookmark but, instead, thumbed up in Stumbleupon. By clicking on the “Favorites” button in the toolbar you can visit your Stumbleupon page with all the pages you gave a thumbs up (or down) to.

You can then narrow your search by typing in keywords in the “Search your favorites” box to find that link you were after. It is far more clutter-free for your bookmark folders by sticking with Stumbleupon to save those links you normally would bookmark but hardly use again.

6. Take a Day (or Two) Off From Your Computer

I don’t know about you but, after visiting so many blogs and digesting so much information, I tended to burnout. Then I would read those good blog posts but then immediately forget them and not apply the good info contained in them.

Taking just one day off from your computer breaks that cycle so, when you return, you’re refreshed and more at tune when going back through the reader and visiting those blogs and websites again.

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Do you find these techniques useful? Are there any methods that you use to counter the “information overload” from reading so many blogs or visiting so many websites? Drop a comment below and let me know!

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

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3 Comments. Join In!

  • Chris Olbekson

    January 14th, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    This one really hit home with me. I found out pretty quick that google reader stops counting unread items at 1000 and just says 1000+. For a while I would keep it open all day but it started to get so distracting that I realized it was slowing down my work flow and so easy to get drawn into. I like the idea of using Stumbleupon to book mark all the sites you might want to eventually go back to when you have the time. Now I just check my reader in the morning and then maybe peek at it a few times later in the day.

    Good article and good advice!
    Chris OlbeksonĀ“s last blog ..Typekit Review: Will this be the solution for web font embedding? My ComLuv Profile

  • Tweets that mention Are You Digesting Too Much Information? - The Freelance Rant -- Topsy.com

    January 15th, 2010 at 2:46 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Grace Smith, Rajesh Pancholi, Sharon Hurley Hall, Johnny Spence, colaja and others. colaja said: Are You Digesting Too Much Information? – http://bit.ly/5dK4S3 (via @gracesmith) [...]

  • Johnny

    January 15th, 2010 at 9:06 am

    I now set a block of time each day only for the reader too. You’re right, it really does disrupt the workflow especially if the feed is a mile long!