Fighting Infomania: Why 80% of Your Reading is a Waste of Time | Nat Eliason
Excellent read on why we're consuming information the wrong way. Also has some great tips on avoiding information overload.
Below are my takeaways from reading this.
Focus on consuming information that you know you need right now
Trying to consume everything to learn something, is not the best use of time. It is better to consume information that you know you need right now. Consuming information that you might need in the future, in other words reading just in case you will need it, is a waste of time.
Avoid the noise
Conventional wisdom says that you should follow what people in your industry are talking about tactics-wise, but it’s just noise. You should have the strategy and tactics that you’re working on, and then you should execute on them. Constantly listening to and checking what other people are doing doesn’t help you stay focused–it just makes you question yourself.
This is true. And while the author was talking about his job as far as context goes, I see this being applicable to a lot of things in life. It is applicable to blogging, to parenting, to dieting, etc... Not to say that checking up on what the current trend is wrong per se, but ultimately you need to think through and decide what you want to do on your own. Constantly checking up on what others in the industry are doing, saying or thinking, will only make you question yourself everyday.
Stop following sites or blogs that publish content everyday
The Problem of Frequency
As a general rule, the more frequently a site publishes about tactics (marketing, personal finance, weight loss, etc.), the less you should listen to it.
No topic is sufficiently complex that you need new information on executing on it every day. Getting in shape requires doing a few very simple things every day for months, not finding a new 13 minute 6 step workout every day so you can have a butt like today’s hot celebrity.
The author does make an exception for sources of information that time and time again, produces high quality content. However normally, these sources of information don't publish content very often. Meaning, if you follow a site or blog or person who publishes new posts every day, then the content probably isn't all that high quality.
Prioritize timeless content over something new
We have a fascination with consuming new articles, new blog posts, new videos, etc... But we should really be taking into account the Lindy rule when deciding what information to consume. Applying this rule means you prioritize timeless content over something new. The idea being, timeless content that you read now, will still be applicable for years to come. On the other hand, new articles haven't proven themselves yet to be a source of timeless knowledge or information.
Focus on Just In Time Learning
In school, we develop the habit of consuming information just in case. That’s how we are taught anyways. We attend classes on various topics with the whole idea of making us as ready as possible for the real world once we graduate. However once you get a real job, you'll find that you don't need to use everything that you learned in school. Most of the time, you have to focus on very specific topics that you need to master to make progress at work. That's where the idea of just in time learning comes into play. You focus only on information that helps you right here and now. You ignore the rest of the “just in case” information that you think might be handy, but are not relevant to your current situation.
Rule for avoiding information overload
1 Rule to Fight Infomania
If it doesn’t answer a specific question you’re currently asking, cover philosophical knowledge, or entertain you, then don’t read it.
If you are trying to avoid information overload like me, this might be the only rule you need to follow, or at the least, one of the fundamental rules to follow.
Only dig through blogs and websites when you have a question
Only dig through blogs and websites when you have a question. You're basically in research mode during that time, which is the mode you want to be in to answer the question you have. But otherwise, ignore or unfollow blogs, websites, newspapers, channels, or other sources of information that only serve to clog up your feed during the day.
Stop consuming information from the internet once your question has been answered
And lastly... You should stop consuming information from the internet once your question has been answered and you have an idea of what you need to do going forward.