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  • Information overload and what to do with it?

    I love RSS feeds. I have 53 seperate feeds in total that update themselves at will in my Outlook 2007 client. I love it

    Some of it is just keeping up to date on, for example, anything Apple orientated. See I'm interested in anything about their new mobile phone, their latest OS release and their laptops. Typicall after I've read this information I can delete it.

    The same can be applied for keeping uptodate on the latest trends related to my work.

    BUT there is an increasing amount of these feeds that I need to do something with and this is where I need some advice - trying to figure out what I exactly do with it.

    If its a useful quote or something I need reminding about regularly, well there's the intention journal I guess.

    A lot of these can be labelled as R&D to improve my skills for a new job role I'm studying for.

    The biggest collection are life hacks. These are great hints or tips or even complete habits that I want to adopt in order to improve an area in my life. These are not so easy to deal with.

    I've defined the projects and next actions but I'm totally overwhelmed by all of it. They are all projects that I would like to do. Maybe I should put some of these down as Someday/Maybe's.

    Does anyone have any hints and tips (as long as they aren't in an RSS feed either ) on how to manage things like this?

    Grateful for any help.

  • #2
    This might be a place where the top-down Franklin-Covey/traditional time management approach is more useful than the bottom-up GTD approach.

    With 53 RSS feeds, you could collect enough information and ideas in a week to keep you busy for the rest of your life. So perhaps a better idea would be to step back and take a high level look at what you really want to accomplish. Screen inputs by their relevance to those goals. If you don't have a good idea how you're going to use the information, let it go. It will still be there if you need it again.

    You might also need to be realistic about your time. Yes, there are many areas in which you might want to improve your life or yourself, but there are also only so many hours in a day. You might try to pick a few focus areas for the short term, while keeping the rest on a long term list. Focus makes it more likely that you'll make progress, too: gradual self improvement is usually easier than radical change.

    Good luck!

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Originally posted by JasonJ View Post
      They are all projects that I would like to do. Maybe I should put some of these down as Someday/Maybe's.
      If it is something you would like to do but are not actually committed to doing anything about this week, then yes, put it on your Someday/Maybe.

      During your next weekly review, pick however many can reasonably fit into your schedule and work on them. If at the end of the week, you decide that you just aren't that into it right now, dump it back into Someday/Maybe.

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      • #4
        Steve Pavlina had a good article about that:
        http://www.stevepavlina.com/articles...orum-usage.htm

        And has some good suggestions to cut it down some.

        Richard

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        • #5
          My recommendation would be to have a journal, text file, etc. to store random ideas and/or tips.

          Another solution is to use a social bookmarking site such as del.icio.us to save bookmarks (with tags).

          I think it's helpful here to distinguish between someday/maybe stuff and current projects. For instance, you might have several projects related to work skills: e.g., improve typing speed to 60 wpm, learn basic accounting, whatever. (These are just random examples). Then you would save any relevant information and/or learning material in the appropriate project file

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          • #6
            At its most basic, GTD as a strong "a place for everything, and everything in its place" aspect to it. In your case, you have a lot of feeds coming in, containing a variety of actionable and non-actionable things - ideas, resources, quotes, etc. My tips:

            o Use your Someday/Maybe folder (printing the post and filing it is easy)
            o Have an efficient (i.e., easy-to-capture) idea file system (you might like Pickle jars, text files, and creative idea capture)
            o Consider a collection diet - get off the RSS feeds that aren't "high value." *Determining* that is currently a chore given limitations in feed technology (related: Information provenance - the missing link between attention, RSS feeds, and value-based filtering)
            o Related to the previous: Some thinking (as suggested above) about *why* you're subscribed may help separate wheat and chaff. (Difficult to say "no" to feeds - there are so many yummy ones!)
            o Apply the Processing and Organizing ideas rigorously to RSS feeds. I sometimes have an "afraid to click" moment when I see a feed has many posts - I know that going over each is *real work*. But with the above, you can make yourself efficient at going through them rapidly, pulling out action/etc., and moving on.

            Hope that helps!

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            • #7
              Someday/Definately or Someday/Maybe

              Thanks a lot for all your advice on helping me manage the wonder that is RSS.

              I think the biggest problem I have is impatience. I'm bad at wanting it now. I need, at my next weekly review, to trawl through these Projects and be realistic about what I can acheive now as opposed to Someday. Maybe I should create a Someday/Definately as well as the Someday/Maybe

              Thanks again.

              Comment


              • #8
                you might start at the top

                meaning, if you have not yet done so yet, write out your roles and responsibilities, then your goals for the season, the year, 5 years, etc. This might help you decide topics about which you want to collect information. Also, you might find that some info. will be outdated by the time you get started on certain proejcts while in some fields the basic information doesn't change much and so in that case you might save it only because you like the way it is presented. Another idea is that if a lot of your information is related to a particular acdemic topic, you might take the premier reference book in the field and use its table of contents to make file headings (virutal or paper) and then slip the information into these folders.
                Last edited by Jamie Elis; 05-18-2007, 06:50 AM. Reason: spelling

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by JasonJ View Post
                  Maybe I should create a Someday/Definately as well as the Someday/Maybe
                  I seem to recall a post (maybe on this forum) from someone who has implemented separate "Later" and "Someday/Maybe" lists, similar to your suggestion above. At first, I really liked this idea--it appears to give more weight to some of the things you know for sure you want to accomplish later in comparison to the things you might want to tackle at some point in the future. But after giving the idea a lot of thought, I’m not so sure...

                  What you are dealing with here is an “edge case”. It sort of fits into both your current Projects (because you’ve committed to dealing with it at some point) and Someday/Maybe (because you’re not committed to dealing with it right now). On the surface, it may seem like the right approach is to create a separate list for these edge cases, but I think what you’ll eventually find is that because you’ve introduced 2 new edges (one between Projects and Someday/Definitely, and another one between Someday/Definitely and Someday/Maybe), all you’ve really done is increase the number of edge cases that you’re going to have to deal with.

                  My advice (for whatever it's worth) is to keep it as simple as possible -- if you're not going to deal with it now, put it in Someday/Maybe. If you really need to separate them somehow, maybe you can tag/annotate the items you definitely want to do later.
                  Last edited by jknecht; 05-18-2007, 10:08 AM. Reason: Added annotation suggestion.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by jknecht View Post
                    I seem to recall a post (maybe on this forum) from someone who has implemented separate "Later" and "Someday/Maybe" lists, similar to your suggestion above. At first, I really liked this idea--it appears to give more weight to some of the things you know for sure you want to accomplish later in comparison to the things you might want to tackle at some point in the future. But after giving the idea a lot of thought, I’m not so sure...
                    I think that would be me: I have an Ignoring tray, as well as Current/Active and Someday/Maybe. I started doing it because there are a lot of things that I'm definitely committed to doing that I know I can't do yet, largely because I've got a lot of things I'm definitely committed to doing which are also really urgent.

                    It works well for me, because if all of those things were lumped together in my Currently Active projects, I'd get completely overwhelmed at the sheer volume of Stuff-To-Do. I know, because this is what happened. I have to choke off the flow somehow, and consigning the Stuff-I-Can't-Do-Just-Yet to the S/M is dangerous. There's still a fair amount of new Stuff appearing, and there's a real risk that the S/M tray will get neglected for months.

                    This may be an artefact of my current situation: I have an enormous amount of Stuff-To-Do because I'm starting a new business, and dealing with several other, smaller, life changes at the same time. So it may be that once I clear the backlog, I won't need an Ignoring tray.

                    I'm not sure that an Ignoring inbox would work for this situation, though: since there's a continual flow of incoming information, that means that the Ignoring inbox would just continually grow, rather than being whittled down.

                    Personally, in this situation I'd vote for cutting down on the incomings.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by unstuffed View Post
                      I have to choke off the flow somehow, and consigning the Stuff-I-Can't-Do-Just-Yet to the S/M is dangerous. There's still a fair amount of new Stuff appearing, and there's a real risk that the S/M tray will get neglected for months.
                      Someday/Maybe is only a working list, IMO, if it's reviewed at least weekly and triaged appropriately. Otherwise it becomes mildewing attic of the mind. I only put things on it that I don't have the time, money or motivation to actively pursue, and I keep fantasies off the list. If I suspect that something won't linger in mind if it's not on the list, it's not worth reviewing weekly. If it's not reviewing weekly, it's not worth cluttering the list with. If the thought reemerges at a later date, I have the option of putting it back on Someday/Maybe or dumping it in a Palm Memo list (e.g. Books to Read). It may not be canon, but it really is OK to have the same thought twice from time to time.
                      Last edited by Gameboy70; 05-19-2007, 11:03 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        102 projects and climbing fast

                        I think I could manage/cope with most of this if I didn't have the job direction change so high on my list.

                        If I put that to oneside and analyse the things left then its mostly life hacks of other areas in the life that I want to improve.

                        Some of these are "parent hacks" to help me improve myself as a father and helping to improve my children in how they interact with each other, how they learn, eating habits etc. These are actions that I want to practise every day and are not really something that I can put on hold until I'm less busy as my kids will have probably left home by then.

                        Some of these are financial hacks to hopefully help me improve my financial management. Again these are things that I can't really put on hold either.

                        Some of these are fitness hacks to help me improve and acheive my physical goals. This is another that I can't put on hold until a later date but once you've got a routine (excercises, diet) sorted then its merely tweaks.

                        Some are technology news feeds to help me keep uptodate. Not many actions from this and as I need to keep uptodate I can't put this off too.

                        The remainder are to help me improve myself and aid myself in a career direction change. BUT this later one eats up most of my time. The actions from these are lots of articles to read, books to read, studying to do, exams to pass, webcasts the watch, podcasts to listen too etc.

                        I think I may have taken on far too much. Actually that brings me to a question: how do you know when you have far too many projects? I'm currently running at 102 projects. Is it when you can actually admit to yourself that I'm overwhelmed?

                        If I look at the balance there's much more coming in than getting done.

                        And if I look at the size of this list and the areas I'm focused in improving then geeeeeezz my life's a mess.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          If you feel like you have too many projects, you probably do.

                          IMO, it's actually good that you are feeling this way with "only" 102 projects. Some people have visited this forum complaining that GTD (or a particular tool) doesn't scale because their system can't handle 300+ projects...

                          Once you decide that you have too many projects, it's entirely up to you to decide what to do about it. GTD can't make that decision for you, it can only show you the scope of the problem.

                          The bottom line, though, is that if you take on more tasks than you can actually do, something is going to slip. Neither GTD nor any other system will increase the number of hours in your day. You can decide in advance what to let slide, and renegotiate the commitment. Or you can try (unsuccessfully) to do everything, and deal with the resulting stress.

                          Katherine

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                          • #14
                            That's the essence of GTD.

                            Originally posted by kewms View Post
                            You can decide in advance what to let slide, and renegotiate the commitment.
                            "Decide what you are not going to do." - that's the essence of GTD.

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