Information overload

Reading time: 2 minutes

In Getting Things Done by David Allen, the author begins the book by stating the problem we have with maintaining everything that is available to us.

"...people have enhanced quality of life, but at the same time they are adding to their stress levels by taking on more than they have resources to handle. It's as though their eyes were bigger than their stomachs."

David Allen, Getting Things Done

There are many possibilities in the world, we all want to do everything that interests us, but there just doesn't seem to be enough time for it all. So we stress out about it and have a tough time making decisions on the things we should be doing.

"How much available data could be relevant to doing those projects 'better'? The answer is: an infinite amount, easily accessible, or at least potentially so, through the Internet."

David Allen, Getting Things Done

And of the things we do get to, we aren't completely sure of, constantly thinking about whether we are doing them correctly, or if we shouldn't be doing something else instead.

Because of this kind of information overload, we talk about things like taking a break from our phones, or getting away from technology completely. But this doesn't really address the issue. It's not about having too much information, but how we process the information. We don't go into a library and spontaneously combust from all the books before us; we browse and filter and evaluate towards choosing a book we want to read.

And in the way a library has a system of cataloging that helps us make our decision, we should have our own system for processing all of the information around us. And that's the idea behind Getting Things Done, to develop a system for ourselves that helps us better deal with information overload.

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