Futurist Alvin Toffler coined the term “information overload” in the 1970s when he predicted the explosion of information. Little did he know then how much information we’d really be dealing with because of email, the internet, cable TV, e-books, social media, and other technological changes that make information more accessible. Bloomberg Businessweek reports that the average person receives 63,000 words of new information every day.
Just a decade ago I’d receive three print newspapers every morning. Now I have literally dozens of online editions to scan each day. A decade ago, I’d receive a few dozen emails every day; now it’s hundreds. Add to this all the social media sites that require monitoring and all the books I receive weekly from publishers. I now have a bad case of information overload.
Even worse than my own information overload is the recognition that my publications are part of information overload for others. I’m competing with an ever-growing sea of information for my target audience’s attention. What can I do to make sure that my articles, newsletters, books, and daily ideas get read?
One great site I found to help with this problem is Infoengineering. It helps to manage information overload with tips and articles on the subject.
Even better, it had tips and tools to improve the chances of my material being read. My favorite tips and tools are found here:
- Clarity Rating Calculator to assess the clarity of my own writing. Just drop in some text and receive immediate feedback.
- Tips for improving email, along with a signature builder.
The bottom line is that every person has to find his or her own solution for handling information overload. You can learn to read faster (I took a course and it helped a little), limit the time spent online (I have difficulty with this one), or find ways to cope (my solution).
Barbara Weltman is an attorney, author (with such titles as J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Starting a Home-Based Business), and trusted professional advocate for small businesses and entrepreneurs. She is also the publisher of Idea of the Day® and monthly e-newsletter Big Ideas for Small Business® at www.barbaraweltman.com, and host of Build Your Business radio. Follow her on Twitter: @BarbaraWeltman.