The problem is not information overload, by David Allen
E-mail overload has gotten a lot of press lately – the quantity, the distraction it creates, and our inability to do much about it. There was even a recent debate in a global newspaper between readers voting for keeping e-mail at zero vs. those who use the digital in-basket as a giant library keeping useful information at hand with no concern for the volume. The issue is tied closely with the popular concern about our always-on culture – that we seem to never unhook from the incessant demands of being in touch, put upon us by our clients, our bosses and ourselves.
What’s the problem? There is one, but not the one that’s been popularized. “Information overload” has been the commonly identified culprit, coupled with universal access. That gives the picture of a mounting pile of stuff under which we are constantly and increasingly buried. And if incessant information bombardment is what we are trying to deal with, then help shows up as attempts to filter, sort and organize it faster and faster so we can feel in control of it.
But information overload isn’t the problem. If it was, you’d walk into a library and die. The first time you connected to the Web, you’d blow up, and merely browsing a newspaper would make you a nervous wreck. [Read more →]