What am I Supposed to Do with All this Information?

We are bombarded with information wherever we go, look away for just a moment and another ton or so has been added to the pile.  All of it vying for our attention.  Whew, how to figure out what is important, what is useful, what is filler?

Coping methods abound, but should they really be broadly applied?  And most of them seem to deal with the mechanics of organization as opposed to the how-to of information processing.  Weighting, sifting, categorizing, pattern recognition – information triage.


I remember along about when my boys hit middle school realizing that they didn’t seem to know how to study properly – what to put into notes, how to organize those notes, how to weight importance of the lessons provided.  I looked around for additional assistance, a tutor or program, but all were focused on improvement in the direct skills – math, reading, etc. – that my boys were quite capable of learning on their own.  I could not find anything that would help with the soft skills of study habits or information organization.  The people that I contacted seemed to be confused about my request.

At work, I have encountered people who need assistance deciding how to prioritize the pile of work in front of them.  Sometimes this is because there is simply too much of it, but sometimes it is the same issue as for my boys – how to process information effectively was not part of any curriculum they had encountered.  There seems to be an assumption that people will naturally know what to do with the information provided and therefore the focus of teaching has been on providing the information.

I wish that I could say I remember how I was taught to process information – because I am certain that I had lessons on this skill along the way.  Perhaps it was in such small increments, here and there, that I can’t pinpoint any moments.  My ‘aha’ moment has been that this is something that I can share with others, not how I acquired the knowledge.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t have places in my house where piles of information await my attention.  (Good thing my dining room table has a sturdy pedestal.)  And I wish that it meant I had a magic method of whisking away extraneous information without having to take time to look at it!  Plus there is always the brand new information that takes longer to sort because I don’t know the identifying factors yet.

How have you decided to process all the information that comes your way?

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2 thoughts on “What am I Supposed to Do with All this Information?

  1. Dan Antion October 3, 2013 at 8:37 am Reply

    The ability to break a large amount of information into components and organize them seems to be a rare commodity. Most of my job today is involved with automating the creation and organized storage of information that is important to our company. We struggle to find ways to teach the fundamental best practices to our coworkers. If you remember any tidbits of how you learned, please share them here – we can use all the help we can get.

    • Beth Anne Reed October 3, 2013 at 10:00 pm Reply

      I will. It was interesting to catch up reading some articles in the paper and come across one that was making a case for sustained effort to deepen information sharing in this sound bite age. I should have saved it… I was in a hurry…

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