Information Overloaded? 10 Quick Tips To Tame The Tide

Think back 5 years. March 2004. It feels like an eternity ago! For me, that was when I really hit the wall. That was when my head director told me that my contract would not be renewed. I resigned in lieu of nonrenewal. I spent the remainder of the semester learning like crazy. In fact, that is the experience that eventually formed the inspiration to begin this blog (read more here). But that’s really not the point of this email, the thought just struck me and I realized how quickly time passes and how much I’ve grown since then.

5 years ago, there was no MySpace (until August 2003), no Twitter, no Facebook. Nada. Blogs were beginning to take off slowly. Blogger came on the scene in 1999. WordPress debuted in 2003. That being said, looking at the landscape of the Internet today compared to 5 years ago, it is a completely different place. Back then, people used emails a lot. Text messaging was hardly a way of life for most. RSS readers were uncommon, and sketchy at best.

No longer.


Does the ease of accesibility and availability such a wide range of information ever just boggle your mind? Does it frustrate you at times? I know for me, it can be a huge problem if I let it get the best of me.

These are some steps I have taken to reduce the information flow while still maintaining a bit of a touch on the pulse of the world.

  1. Convert RSS feeds to email
    The less RSS feeds I subscribe to in Google Reader, the more focused I can be. As a result, I send many of them over to Gmail. With all of my email (except for school) coming to my centralized Gmail account (how do I do this?), I only have one email account to check. I used to use Outlook or Thunderbird, but have since opted to go completely web-based.
  2. Look through my emails daily
    I don’t necessarily reply or read everything I get, but it’s pretty simple to run through the emails and label them or archive them. I label and archive most emails each day. I still see them because I use Multiple Inboxes and so all of my blog emails, as well as Pending, Starred, and School-related emails are still in the main view (how do I do this?).
  3. Keep emails organized
    When I get around to answering them all or not, I want to be able to easily find emails. With Gmail, I have so much storage space (7305 MB currently) that I can keep virtually all of the emails I get and simply archive them in case I need to search for them later.
  4. Unsubscribe from RSS feeds I can follow on Twitter
    I follow Zen Habits on Twitter. Leo usually posts new blog articles on there, so I have opted to unsubscribe from both RSS and email updates.
  5. Turn off @ Replies on Twitter
    This was a huge time saver for me! Problem: I like Twitter, but I don’t like following people when all I read at their replies to people I don’t know. Solution: Go to Go to Settings. Go to Notices. In the @ Replies section, choose @ Replies to the people I’m following (or no @ Replies if you’re so inclined). Voila, your conversation is back to being a bit more manageable!
  6. Favorite interesting articles on Twitter
    When I read a tweet that has a link to an interesting article, I star it so that I can go read it later when I have some more time to focus.
  7. iPhone
    I have found some amazing WebApps for Google that really help me with productivity. I also have downloaded some great Apps that help me stay connected. All of these are fully integrated with the standard version of the same sites. So that means if you read an email on your iPhone, it is marked as read on the web. These include:  


  8. Turn it all off sometimes
    I don’t worry about keeping up when I’m in church, or at a movie or performing a mariachi gig or any other time that I don’t have to be updated. When I blog, I turn things off. Otherwise I lose focus. Heck, when I have things turned off, I have a hard enough time keeping focused!
  9. Play catch up when time allows
    I don’t actively seek to withdraw from the real world just to stay updated online. When time allows, though, I’ll try to catch up some. But I have discovered something very crucial:
  10. Enjoy the journey
    Catching up with everything isn’t the goal. Nor is it where the most joy comes. The simple act of being less behind now than you were earlier is huge and it helps you to see progress. There has to be time to unwind.
About Joel Wagner 522 Articles
Joel Wagner (@sywtt) began teaching band in 2002. Though he had a lot of information, his classes were out of control. He found himself tired, frustrated, disrespected by students, lonely, and on the brink of quitting. He had had enough. He resigned from his school district right before spring break of his second year and made it his personal mission to learn to be a great teacher. So You Want To Teach? is the ongoing story of that quest for educational excellence.

2 Comments on Information Overloaded? 10 Quick Tips To Tame The Tide

  1. I’m on two social networking sites, in addition to my blog, and maintaining two email accounts. I try to keep my personal and work email accounts separate, and that helps a lot. However, I tend to check my work email at home, but, I’m trying to do less of that, especially on the weekends and during vacations.

    I like all of the connectivity. It allows me to communicate with people that I otherwise would not. I don’t like being on the telephone after a long day at school, unless of course it’s a family member.

    Sometimes, like you say, Joel, one has to unplug. I stopped Twittering for several months. I think we need to decide which platforms are the most meaningful and useful to us. For me, it’s email and Facebook for direct communication with friends. Twitter – well, I like it, but, it’s not the most important tool in my life.

  2. Cool! I am working to decrease my time in front of electronic devices. Doing things like going outside to look at stars (when you’re 3 hours away from the nearest city with a population of 200,000 or more, stars are beautiful), walking, learning to cook, practicing my trumpet, etc.

    I just forwarded school emails that are directly addressed to me. They don’t even show up in my Inbox, so they just come to Gmail and if they have important info in them, I’ll look at them when I get home or whatever. It works. :)

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