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Friday, September 15, 2006

10 Tips for Dealing with Information Overload

So many of the Web 2.0 sites exist to sort through the best of the web. There are sites like del.icio.us that allow you to share bookmarks of the best sites, Technorati to tag sites for easy filtering, Findory to personalize news, digg to allow collaborative filtering of sites, and many, many other sites that elaborate on these basic functions. There are also meta-meta sites like Popurls that bring together headlines from meta sites like Slashdot and metafilter. Add to that email, TV, and cell phones and things get really hectic.

These sites offer the promise of helping you filter through all the information on the web, but they still aren't enough. I know people who monitor literally hundreds of RSS feeds on a daily basis, and they don't look so good. Here are some essential tips that I've personally used to avoid information overload:

1. Spend some time culling the feeds from your RSS reader. There are probably some that you haven't looked at in two months, but you still keep them because there's a chance you might still want to check in sometime. The truth is you probably won't so get rid of them.

2. Reduce clutter. Clutter takes up space and steals your attention. Create a temp folder on your Desktop where you can put files that you intend to only use for a day, a week, or however long you decide. Then feel free to delete them at the end of the period.

3. Don't check the news obsessively. It's all right if you don't keep on top of all the things that are going on in the world. If it were really important your friends or co-workers would probably mention it to you.

4. If you want to check the weather, get stock quotes, read a Dilbert comic, and see what's new at Boing Boing and Engadget, start.com is a good place to start off. This is a very fast, well-designed site. Small windows open up when you click on articles without taking you off the site. It's good for a quick, 10 minute morning browse while you try to gear up for the day.

5. If you're addicted to digg, Slashdot, and del.icio.us, consider using Diggdot.us which combines all three.

6. If you want to satisfy an urge to see what random things have caught people's eyes, try clipmarks, which allows you to quickly scan through brief excerpts of interesting things. The important thing is to limit the time you spend checking out what's new.

7. Get Sessionsaver to save the windows and tabs you currently have open. You can archive the sites that you go to every day for news like TechCrunch and GigaOm and import them every time you start up Firefox to automatically have those sites open.

8. Pre-sort your mail. If you are using Gmail, you can use plus-addressing and filters to automatically send incoming mail into the appropriate folders.

9. Don't take your work cell phone home with you. You're not paid enough to be on call 24/7.

10. Take a break every hour or so. Spend 5 minutes getting a cup of tea or coffee and relax away from the keyboard.


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