Surviving Information Overload
Timely and much-needed ... offers solid and practical advice and reminds us that the focus of our needs should be related to God's purposes and plans for our lives. George Gallup Jr.;If you have the time, read this book. If...
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Timely and much-needed ... offers solid and practical advice and reminds us that the focus of our needs should be related to God's purposes and plans for our lives. George Gallup Jr.;If you have the time, read this book. If you don't have the time, you really need to read this book. It will give you a precious gift. It will help you say no. John Ortberg, author of Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them Ever feel overwhelmed by the deluge of email, the frenzy of multitasking, the rush of things you've got to know and do? Then you don't have time not to read this book--because it will save you time and lower your stress.;You needn't read all of it--just what you need when you need it. Email killing you? Check out chapter 6. Interruptions ruining your focus? Tap the power of block days--chapter 10. No time for family or friends? Try an info-techno Sabbath--chapter 11.;Screen out non-essential information Identify and retain what you really need Turn information into results Deal with information clutter Find your way through the Internet thicket Safeguard and optimize your time Reconnect with loved ones Surviving Information Overload will bring focus, effectiveness, and sanity to your fast-paced life. Buy it--because you'll use it. It's a small investment, and the returns start immediately.
The barrage of emails, voicemail, web pages, books, magazines, and newsletters to digest leaves many people feeling overwhelmed and out of control. This book offers a brief, practical guide to finding the key information you need, clearing information clutter, and creating space to think through the use of block days and info-techno Sabbaths. This concise book is not a gimmick for a neat desk or an expensive system. It does not teach how to speed up, but how to gain time, focus, purpose, and the mental space to be creative. With insights from national leaders, as well as charts, cartoons, worksheets, and creative exercises, the book shows people of any temperament how to keep from drowning in a sea of information. The book can be skimmed or read selectively depending on current needs.
Surviving Information Overload Copyright 2004 by Kevin A. MillerThis title is also available as a Zondervan ebook product. Visit www.zondervan.com/ebooks for more information.Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Miller, Kevin A., 1960- Surviving information overload : the clear, practical guide to help you stay on top of what you need to know / Kevin A. Miller. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0-310-25115-X 1. Information resources management. 2. Time management. I. Title. T58.64.M554 2004 020-dc22 2003027901All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.The website addresses recommended throughout this book are offered as a resource to you. These websites are not intended in any way to be or to imply an endorsement on the part of Zondervan, nor do we vouch for their content for the life of this book.All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means-electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other-except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher. Individuals may make photocopies (or transparencies) of "My Key Information Areas" in chapter 2, "My Information Audit" in chapter 5, and "My Key Information/Consultants for This Area" in chapter 13 for personal use or for classroom or seminar use, not to exceed one copy per attendee.Interior design by Tracey MoranPrinted in the United States of America04 05 06 07 08 /. DC/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1We want to hear from you. Please send your comments about this book to us in care of firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you. Contents c h a p t e r 1 WHAT WE''RE UP AGAINST Today''s unprecedented problem: too much information Read this chapter if:. You don''t understand why you feel so overloaded; you didn''t always feel that way.. You keep expecting things to get less stressful, but that day doesn''t seem to be coming.. You want to read this book but don''t feel you can spare the time.You''re normal. You''re not crazy. But too much information may be making you feel stressed, distracted, or overwhelmed. Do you recognize any of the following signs of information overload?1. You feel life has become just too complicated.2. You know your cell phone, PDA, or laptop can do a whole lot more than you''re using it for, but you don''t have time to read the manual or help programs.3. You miss a meeting and are upset that nobody told you about it. Then you find out you were sent an email that moved up the meeting date, but that email is still in your inbox, unread.4. You attended a great seminar and took notes, but as soon as you got back, the crazy pace picked up again, and you haven''t done anything with the notes yet.5. Someone mentions a book you haven''t read or a movie you haven''t seen. You nod as if you have.6. You find it nearly impossible to concentrate on a project because of phone calls, email, voice mail, and interruptions.7. You go to vote, and you don''t really know anything about most of the candidates on the ballot.8. Your mind keeps churning after you go to bed and keeps you awake.9. There was a time when you wanted the PC, digital camera, or DVD with the most features; now you just want the simplest.10. You recently had an important file or check in your office, but for the life of you, you can''t find it.11. A country has been in the news a lot lately, but you''re not exactly sure where that country is.12. You have a stack of journals, magazines, and books that never seems to shrink.13. You''re starting to wonder if your memory is slipping, and you''re writing things down more than ever because you can''t keep it all in your head.14. It seems like another pe
Kevin A. Miller is vice president of resources for CTI, a print and internet publisher in the Chicago area. He is editor-at-large of Leadership Journal and author Secrets of Staying Power and More Than You And Me.
c h a p t e r 1 WHAT WE'RE UP AGAINST Today's unprecedented problem: too much information Read this chapter if: . You don't understand why you feel so overloaded; you didn't always feel that way. . You keep expecting things to get less stressful, but that day doesn't seem to be coming. . You want to read this book but don't feel you can spare the time. You're normal. You're not crazy. But too much information may be making you feel stressed, distracted, or overwhelmed. Do you recognize any of the following signs of information overload? 1. You feel life has become just too complicated. 2. You know your cell phone, PDA, or laptop can do a whole lot more than you're using it for, but you don't have time to read the manual or help programs. 3. You miss a meeting and are upset that nobody told you about it. Then you find out you were sent an email that moved up the meeting date, but that email is still in your inbox, unread. 4. You attended a great seminar and took notes, but as soon as you got back, the crazy pace picked up again, and you haven't done anything with the notes yet. 5. Someone mentions a book you haven't read or a movie you haven't seen. You nod as if you have. 6. You find it nearly impossible to concentrate on a project because of phone calls, email, voice mail, and interruptions. 7. You go to vote, and you don't really know anything about most of the candidates on the ballot. 8. Your mind keeps churning after you go to bed and keeps you awake. 9. There was a time when you wanted the PC, digital camera, or DVD with the most features; now you just want the simplest. 10. You recently had an important file or check in your office, but for the life of you, you can't find it. 11. A country has been in the news a lot lately, but you're not exactly sure where that country is. 12. You have a stack of journals, magazines, and books that never seems to shrink. 13. You're starting to wonder if your memory is slipping, and you're writing things down more than ever because you can't keep it all in your head. 14. It seems like another person in the meeting understands what's going on, but you're not 100 percent sure you do. 15. You worry that your marketability is declining because your industry knowledge is getting out of date. If you recognized yourself in four or more of these statements, you're awash in information. Maybe you feel like my friend Jim, who is the head of an association: 'It's common for me to be working away on my computer, and I hear the little 'bing' that tells me another e-mail has arrived. While I'm looking at that new e-mail, which will take about a half hour to dispose of properly, another little 'bing' comes, and another, and another, until it sounds like my computer is a monotone xylophone. Then the phone rings, and the day's mail is stacked so high I can't even see my to-read pile of books on the corner of my desk. Stuff just keeps coming in faster than I can handle it, and I feel like Charlie Chaplin in Modern Times, when he's tightening screws on a production line and stops to scratch his head, getting hopelessly behind.' We need information just to be able to shop, vote, earn money, and use our phone, but the information keeps coming ---more and more, faster and faster---until we become frustrated, confused, and unsure of ourselves. Richard Saul Wurman writes that today we feel 'a pervasive fear that we are about to be overwhelmed by the very material we need to master in order to function in this world.' Why do we feel overloaded by information? What is going on? Let me explain five forces unique to our time. The world is now producing nearly two exabytes of new and unique information per year. Don't feel bad if you don't know what an exabyte is. No one does. It's a new term, one they had to coin for a billion gigabytes. The bottom line: more new information has been produced in the last 30 years than in the last 5,000. Or to say it even more simply, 'A weekday edition of the New York Times contains more information than the average person was likely to come across in a lifetime in seventeenth-century England.' New communications technology exposes us to more ideas than ever before. In Playing the Future, Douglas Rushkoff explains, 'Inventions like the telephone, radio, television, photocopier, fax machine, modem, cable TV, video teleconferencing, computer bulletin board, and the World Wide Web all function to increase the number of people whose thoughts we encounter. Each successive development in communications technology---whether it's a cellular phone or an e-mail account---brings a corresponding leap in the number of ideas we're forced to process.' Work has moved from the floor of the factory to the inside of our heads. 'Ideas are the new steel,' writes Melinda Davis in The New Culture of Desire. 'This transition from a manufacturingdriven economy to an idea-driven one has . . . relocated great numbers of workers to a new Cerebral-Industrial Complex inside our own heads. At the beginning of the twentieth century, two-thirds of working Americans earned their living by making things, Henry Ford style. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, two-thirds earn a living by making decisions.' This shift means, as David Brooks explains in Newsweek, that 'today's business people live in an overcommunicated world. There are too many Web sites, too many reports, too many bits of information bidding for their attention. The successful ones are forced to become deft machete wielders in this jungle of communication. They ruthlessly cut away at all the extraneous data that are encroaching upon them. They speed through their tasks so they can cover as much ground as possible, answering dozens of e-mails at a sitting and scrolling past dozens more. After all, the main scarcity in their life is not money; it's time. They guard every precious second, the way a desert wanderer guards his water.' Most information we get is badly presented or incomprehensible. Even the basics of our lives have become complex and forbidding. Humorist Dave Barry writes, 'If you're wondering what a Keogh Plan is, the technical answer is: Beats me. All I know is, I have one, and the people who administer it are always sending me Important Tax Information. Here's the first sentence of their most recent letter, which I swear I am not making up: 'Dear David: The IRS has extended the deadline for the restatement of your plan to comply with GUST and various other amendments until, in most instances, September 30, 2003.' I understand everything in that sentence up to 'David.' After that I am lost.' Information used to be held in check because it could reach us through only a few channels at a few set times.No longer. It's hard to remember now, but news came via a newspaper, which was published only in the morning or the evening.TV news flickered on at 5:00 or 10:00 P.M. But the rest of the day, news hid; you couldn't find it. Now CNN, websites, news-tracker emails, and updates on your cell phone wiggle their way into your mind all day, every day. Then the entire zoo escapes: 260,000 billboards, 11,520 newspapers, 11,556 periodicals, 27,000 video outlets, 40,000 new book titles, and 60,000,000,000 pieces of junk mail every year.