Five Ways to Cut Through Your Information Clutter

We are bombarded with consumable media, constantly getting texts, tweets, and emails, reading reports, posts, blogs, and websites, streaming movies, shows, and videos, and reading books, magazines and newspapers. It is understandable when we miss something important. It is impossible to properly filter the right information every time we receive it.

However if you are making poor filtering decisions at work, you are detrimentally affecting your career, your reputation, and your company.   Following these strategies may make filtering pertinent information easier.

  1. Limit the number of information sources that you are consuming at one time. If you are surfing the internet, listening to music, reading a report, and texting friends all at the same time, you are not able to perform all of those tasks well.  Focus on one or two tasks that are complementary that actually help you perform the work task better.  For instance, listening to familiar music has been shown to help your concentration levels when reading.
  2. Answer two questions when receiving the information. How does this help me at my job?” and “How does this help my company?” By asking yourself those questions while you are consuming information at work, you will be more likely to find the key points and less likely to let a group chat interrupt your day.
  3. Use the non-work activities as a reward for concentrating on key tasks. After you have made a dent in your To Do list, and if your work allows it, take a couple of minutes to refresh your brain by catching up on texts, posts, and videos.  By allowing yourself the time to recharge, you will actually be more productive throughout your day.
  4. Take Notes. Yes with old school pen and paper.  The best way to make sure you are comprehending the information you are receiving is if you can summarize it.  But instead of the old longhand style of noting taking, think in PowerPoint.  Short bursts and key words.
  5. Stay alert and active. Hydrate, stretch, stand at your desk, take short walks while reading, do whatever makes you alert and active during your information consumption.  I am a water drinking pacer when reading or on the phone.

It is important that you realize that you need to filter information accurately and efficiently. It helps with time management, preparedness for meetings, and your professional expertise. These simple steps help you cut through the information clutter and hopefully make you more productive.

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