Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Information Overload

Lately I've been innundated with information. Articles, newsletters, message boards, magazines, webinars, conference's overwhelming. It's not just doctors that need to keep their knowledge current; to be successful in any career you need to keep up with latest trends, and keep learning, and keep trying to improve your skills. Reading industry publications is pretty much essential. And with email and the internet, it's really easy to access tons of information. But when is it too much?

I get at least 2 magazines a week, sometimes more. I subscribe to roughly 10 electronic newsletters. Some come daily, some are weekly. I also have several websites that I try to find time to check out at least once a week. That's a lot of information to sort through. It's hard to find the balance between reading enough to learn what you need to and reading so much that you are wasting productive time.

With things that I get via email, I used to try to at least glance at everything the same day it came. If there was something in a newsletter or email that I wanted to read in it's entirety, or just check out further, I'd leave it in my inbox. If not, I'd delete it right away. The problem with this approach is that after a week, I never seemed to get back around to reading the things I wanted to. Sometimes by the time I got to them, the information was no longer timely.

So I created a filter for my email, to funnel all articles into their own folder. Makes my inbox in general easier to manage, but now I'm finding that things pile up so quickly in the designated "articles" folder, that going through it has become a dreaded task. And I can't seem to keep up with it. If I clean it up and get it down to only things I've read and want to save, within a couple of days it's filled again with unread mail, and I avoid it.

Magazines are even worse, and I get less of those. I tend to just let them pile up, and eventually go through the pile when it gets so high that it will easily topple over and cause damage.

How do you manage all of the information? I want to make sure I read everything that will help me, I want to read it in a timely manner, but I don't want it to take up too much of my time. I also want to make sure it doesn't get to the point where I just shut down and stop reading everything. If I can figure out a good system, I may need to make it a New Year's resolution to implement it and stick with it. Any suggestions would be much appreciated!


Kathy Frederick said...

I have nothing to offer. I'm as overwhelmed with information as you are. And now that I've taken up blogging, I have less time for it. There's one fact you can't ignore: The brain can only hold so much information. Throw out what you know deep down you'll never read. I do that with magazines, even the couple I've kept subscriptions for. As for email, I keep at it every waking hour of the day. I don't think that's a good thing, though. Just my method. I don't like to be greeted by 100 messages at once. It'll make me cry. Good luck!
Kathy at The Junk Drawer

Susan said...

@ kathy
I actually have a big empty box in my office waiting for me to fill it up with stuff if I ever get around to cleaning up my office. I tend to keep more than I should, but once the mood strikes me and I get rolling I'll pitch it all! Should I call you if I come across anything that needs to be shredded?