Every day, over 4 million blog posts are published. That is a lot of information, and it is only growing. While the vast majority of people will not read that many blog posts, they will consume a lot of information.
Perhaps not via blog posts, but rather via social media and the news. But that doesn't change the fact that our information consumption has increased. And some have referred to the problems we are experiencing as a result of this increased intake of information as information overload.
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There are numerous mitigation strategies available, but what if we are approaching this incorrectly? What if the issue is that we don't know how to organize data?
When we consider our own information-related behavior, I believe that is the case. This, in turn, explains why we need to organize information and devise effective methods for doing so.
While there is nothing wrong with the amount of information available, we must decide how to use it. In many cases, people lacked self-control or did not bother to learn how to organize information. This fact, among a few others, is why this is significant.
We've Become Addicted to Information Consumption
This results in a situation in which we are constantly digesting information, primarily because “we have to know this.” Even if we never use that knowledge in our own lives.
All of this behavior is reminiscent of attending seminars hosted by motivational speakers or thought leaders. People leave those seminars and, for the most part, never put what they learned into practice.
Clutter is caused by having too much information
I previously described a scenario in which you are reading and concentrating on a book on the bus. Someone suddenly sits next to you and begins a loud personal conversation about their friend's love life.
Even if you are a bystander in that conversation, that information is still information and can cause a lot of clutter. It's similar to having other distractions on your desk that draw your attention away from work or another productive activity.
But one thing I forgot to mention is that clutter can also be caused by build-up. When it comes to information, reading several articles on the same subject can lead to a lot of clutter.
What kind of information is critical?
This post stated that it is important, while another stated that it is not. What information is relevant in this context?
What information should you internalize and put into practice?
Finally, information generates noise, and it can be difficult for us to organize that noise based on our feelings and current devices.
How to Effectively Organize Information
When you have a plan, organizing information can be simple. There are also a number of strategies to consider when organizing information.
But the most important aspect of information is that how much we consume is entirely up to us. We have complete control over our information diet and how it is disseminated.
1. The Principle of LATCH
Richard Saul Wurman developed an effective method in 1996. In his book Information Architect, he took an existing theory – the Five Hat Racks – and developed the LATCH principle.
Indeed, the goal of this method is to organize information in a broader sense. You're not so much concerned with your own priorities as you are with better organizing your information diet.
Wurman believes that this is the best method for organizing information because he tested the principle a thousand times. Every time he tried something new, he returned to one of those five methods.
He may have a bias because he invented this principle, but it works wonders. I argue this for two main reasons:
To begin organizing anything, you must first get rid of everything you don't need. Returning to clutter, it creates a lot of noise and distracts us from our current life goals and priorities.
The second benefit of organizing is that it reduces stress. And, in order to organize properly, some kind of method or system is required. It's not really organizing if you don't have a method for sorting things.
LATCH comes into play here. LATCH provides five methods from which we can organize anything in our lives:
- Location can be applied in a variety of contexts. It's similar to giving directions. We concentrate on the most important things so that they are easily accessible. Similarly, we use it to demonstrate how things are related to one another.
- The information is organized alphabetically by Alphabet. When organizing a list of people and statistics, this can be useful. Or perhaps a glossary of industry jargon or official documents.
- Communication and time go hand in hand. Information pertaining to appointment scheduling or project organization. This method is useful when providing step-by-step instructions or when things must be in chronological order.
- A category is a method of organizing information based on similarity or relatedness. Remember the collection lists I mentioned earlier?
- Hierarchy is the process of organizing information so that it can be compared collectively. Consider t-shirt sizes or how you would rate food, a product, or a service. To organize information, everyone uses the same metric.
While most people would wear multiple hats in most situations, the fact remains that we use at least one of these methods instinctively. The LATCH method is the way to go when it comes to organizing or collecting information.
2. Brain Mapping
Mind mapping is a technique for visualizing and organizing thoughts. It's become a bit of a buzzword in the industry, despite the fact that few people actually explain what it means or how to make one.
The goal of mind mapping is to generate a detailed to-do list. You have daily tasks to complete, but this goes a step further.
Mind mapping encourages you to think about the long term, such as what you want to do with your life in five years. It does not address the intake of daily information in a significant way, but it is an extremely effective tool for organizing what is most important to you.
This reduces information overload by providing another method of evaluating information. Make a note of it if it is relevant to your goals and desires. If not, put it out of your mind.
Here's a step-by-step guide to getting started with mind mapping: How to Organize Your Life with a Mind Map
3. Make a list
Aside from the frameworks mentioned above, you can start a simple habit of making a series of lists with post-it notes or a large notepad. Every day, make a to-do list and use it to organize the most important tasks for you to complete that day.
Make a separate list for routine items if you feel the need to include them. Lists, in any case, help to organize what needs to be done while also providing a sense of time management. After all, you'll know roughly how long it should take you to complete something.
4. Make a collection
Create collections in the same way that you did lists. What I mean is that you should organize your notes into specific groups of information. For example, if you have a lot of information on business ideas or opportunities, put it in a book or a digital document. Keep it separate from your self-improvement and mindset advice.
Consolidate those collections as well. Remove any information that you no longer require or have tried previously.
5. Emphasize critical information
Most blog posts will contain a wealth of useful information. It will be difficult to manage if you are the type of person who consumes a lot. This strategy takes the concept of making lists to the next level.
The idea is to summarize the information or put the key points in a list that you can refer to later. It doesn't have to be in a collection or anything. The idea is that when your brain has energy, it will be easier to digest and process it later.
We risk becoming distracted and moving further away from our true priorities in a world where we are addicted to hoarding information in ourselves.
We can get rid of things we don't need by learning how to organize information better. Better yet, we can learn to prioritize things that are more important in our lives.
When we start organizing information and our behavior, we gain more control over our lives and what we allow in.
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