How To Keep Up With New Information Even When You Don’t Have Time For It

00-information-overload-postHow many perks do you get when you learn something before anyone else does?

Just share that new knowledge with others and you’ll position yourself one step ahead.

Yet there’s so much information that it’s absolutely impossible to keep up and always stay at the top of your game.

And you probably have some work that needs to be done, right?

So how do you find the balance?

1. Make the Information Come to You

Time is precious and you shouldn’t waste it looking for new information. You’ve got to have it delivered right to your front door.

Well, today that’s not a problem.

You can use content aggregators, where other people will handpick great articles and you can follow industry leaders on Twitter, as they often share tons of cool stuff.

Just spend some time curating your personal list of sources and you’ll never have to worry about missing something important.

Every so often, you may discover a site that is so consistent in putting out great content that you’ll want to put it onto your “regular reads” list.

You can use Feedly for that. It allows you to organize all your “regular reads” into folders, which makes it a lot more convenient to keep up with them.

these are the folders in my own Feedly account

these are the folders in my own Feedly account

Another great way to make new information haunt you is to subscribe to a few industry newsletters.

But you don’t want to be interrupted with new emails throughout your day, right? In that case you can use a handy service called Unroll.me which will send you a “daily roundup” of everything you are subscribed to.

2. Set Aside Some Time For Reading; Or Not?

Here’s a simple hack that will help you read more than 30 books per year: read 20 pages to start your day.

I know it works, because it’s been 5 months and I’m reading my 13th book.

And yet with online reading is not that simple.

Why read every day when there’s nothing meaningful to read? I mean most blogs just keep rehearsing the same tips over and over again. The more you read them, the more your signal to noise ratio drops.

So you shouldn’t read online content every day. Just check “what’s new” – open your list of sources and see if anything catches your eye.

Most people prefer doing it early in the morning and then completely block themselves from that activity for the rest of the day, because honestly it’s quite addictive.

3. Practice Selective Ignorance

Whenever you come across an article that urges you to read it, you have to come up with all sorts of arguments why you shouldn’t do it.

Much like talking yourself out of eating chocolate candies late at night.

I have created a fun process that you can follow:

share this process with your friends, who sacrifice work for some reading

share this process with your friends, who sacrifice work for some reading

But why am I advising you against learning new cool stuff?

Well, the odds are you’re going to forget everything you’ve read by tomorrow. You may remember the main idea, but not the details, which are crucial most of the time.

So whether you’ve read the article or not, you’ll have to bookmark it anyways if you plan to use that information in future.

And that leads us to another issue – you got to have solid organisational skills to be able to store your reads in a way where you can easily locate them later.

4. Compulsive hoarding, Transactive Memory and… Evernote

Have you ever heard of compulsive hoarding? That’s when you can’t force yourself to discard stuff, which results in piles of disorganised trash in your house.

This is not how you want to bookmark your articles.

does your "read later" list look like that?

does your “read later” list look like that?

Whenever an interesting read pops in front of you, don’t just add to an endless “read later” list.

Skim through that article real quick and decide whether that is something that you’re going to read anytime soon.

If that is the case, you may simply bookmark that article with Chrome or send it to an app like Pocket or Instapaper.

But if you’re not sure when you’re going to need that article, you should put it to your “article archive” using tools like Delicious or Evernote.

These tools allow you to add tags and comments to the articles that you bookmark, which helps a lot in navigating through your archives later on (even if they’re crazy big).

Yet most of the time I don’t want to save the actual article, I just need a small excerpt from it. That’s when I use Evernote’s web clipper and this little tool makes Evernote my app of choice for archiving online reads.

Now let’s talk about the last way to keep your brains clean – your “transactive memory”.

Let’s say you’re hanging out with your friends at the bar and one of them mentions that hot new game for PlayStation that all kids go crazy about.

I bet you’re going to forget the name of that game in a minute (unless of course you’re a fan of computer games).

Fast forward to Christmas time and you’re thinking of a cool gift to your nephew, who you know is a hardcore gamer.

So you call your friend and ask him:

– “What’s the name of the game you’ve mentioned at the bar back then?”

Ta-da! You’ve just used your transactive memory.

I mean you generally don’t memorise things if you know that someone else will do that for you.

Thats what you should do with online reads – once you see a cool article and you know someone who’s all about that topic, just send it to him!

You can then refer to his knowledge whenever you need it.

I Can’t Believe You’ve Just Read This Article

Hope it’s your last one for today, because I’m sure you have some work to do.

Do you think you can keep yourself from reading new articles for the rest of the day?

How about doing that for the rest of the week?

Let me know if these tips were helpful.

I'm the guy behind BloggerJet blog. I'm also the guy behind TweetDis and Content Upgrades PRO. But that's like 10% of what I do these days, as the other 90% is devoted to doing marketing for an awesome SEO toolset called Ahrefs.

35 Comments

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  1. Love this article, Tim! I’m a huge reader and have to stop myself from reading too many blog posts.

    I love Pocket and Evernote. They both help me stay more productive.

    I still read your posts live!
    Sue

    • Tim Soulo

      hey Sue! that’s a big honour for me :)

      I don’t really use pocket, because I rarely use my iPad.. but I’m in love with the Evernote, because it’s a perfect storage for new things that I learn! :)

      ps: did you pin my funny visual? ;)

      • Fernando Salazar

        As a previous user of Evernote and a long-time Google Keep user… I think the latter is far better because of its integration with Google Apps :-)

        • Tim Soulo

          Hey Fernando! Can you plz give me a link to some cool Google Keep review? :)

          • Hey Tim

            I use both Google Keep and Evernote. Evernote has more functionality, eg you can use bold and italics, bullet points, link text, embedded images. Google Keep does not have any of these, its just a plain text application

            I mainly use Evernote to make detailed notes. I use Google keep for “to do lists” mainly.

            Hope this helps

            Clement

            • Tim Soulo

              I used a ton of things for my todo lists.. and settled with a simple note in Evernote + oldschool notepad and pen :)

  2. Hey Tim,

    That’s cool :) We all know that we are sinking in information overload. The internet mainly is the place where information is just losing its meaning perhaps.

    Content that gets shared around and content that gets viral doesn’t always represent “useful” content. Or useful to me, in particular.

    Not all content is useful to me, so I have to be highly effective in picking what I need or else I might just be wasting all day reading useless stuff. I love your flow chart :)

    I DO highly rely on Evernote for clipping whole of web pages – not just for clipping content related to my business but also for clipping recipes, storing important numbers so I can look them up whenever I need.

    I also heavily use Feedly so I don’t have to visit certain blogs I respect and read regularly.

    Thanks for the wonderful post :) Have a great week!

    Cheers,
    Jane.

    • Tim Soulo

      Hey Jane! :)

      “Content that gets shared around and content that gets viral doesn’t always represent “useful” content.”

      That is soooooooo true!!!!!

      …and it’s so easy to get sinked into that information whirlpool :)

  3. Hey mate!

    Great article! I love the idea about reading. To be honest, I set around 30-60 minutes a day reading.

    Just keep me on the ‘loop’ and also a great idea generator strategy :)

    Good stuffs!

    • Tim Soulo

      Hey bud! :)

      yeah.. based on what you write and what you tweet I can clearly tell that you read a lot and have solid bookmarking skills! :)

      if you ever share your tips on this matter somewhere – let me know! would love to check them ;)

  4. Ah. Such valid points, Tim.

    20 pages a day. I think I heard James Clear mention that once and even though I think it’s a great idea, I sadly don’t practise it more often. That needs to change.

    There was a guest on Entrepreneur on Fire with John Lee Dumas who gave a an acronym I think many people will find , useful. It was “I.L.T”- INVEST, LEARN, TEACH.

    I think a lot of us bloggers/online people get stuck on the INVEST/LEARN part and we end up imbibing more information than we care to know or use.

    So before I go reading another blog post, I am learning to put things I learn when I read to use by practising them myself and then teaching it to my audience.

    Oh, I love Unroll.me. It has made my life so much more easier.

    Thanks for the post, Tim.

    • Tim Soulo

      “we end up imbibing more information than we care to know or use” – great quote, Gertrude! :)

      we should always be learning new stuff.. but only when we can actually do something with it!

      thanks for your comment!

  5. Totally LOVE that flowchart image, Tim!

    So true, too.

    I generally make time for things as they crop up. Sometimes, however, it leads to fatigue, but hey, I’d get tired of doing other things anyway! LOL

    Pinning your image now!

    • Tim Soulo

      Hey Lorraine! I got that image for $5 on Fiverr!!!

      I can tweet you the link to the author’s profile if you need it :)

  6. Hi Tim,
    I am really searching for these kind of articles. Loved to read it and it will help me alot. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Tim Soulo

      Thanks, Ravi! :)

  7. Thanks for those great tips about dealing with information overload. As any buffet champ can tell you, it’s not about devouring everything in sight– it’s about the privilege to pick a little of varied picks from the table.

    My way of managing info overload is unsubscribing (or at least minimizing) newsletters and email notifications. I also pair Feedly with my favorite offline RSS reader, gReader so I can consume my content during down times such as grocery shopping queues, commutes, or TV commercials.

    • Tim Soulo

      thanks for leaving a comment, Tara!

      speaking of the best times to consume content.. for me that would be an airplane :)

  8. I am an avid reader and I can’t stop myself from reading anything that caught my eyes. I have Pocket app in my phone so I use it to save interesting web pages. Anyways, great post as usual. I was waiting for your new post. You took so long.

    Great weekend Tim!

    • Tim Soulo

      Hey Dina, thanks a lot for your comment!

      yeah.. things were quite hectic in the last few months.. I’ll post a “personal update” about this real soon ;)

  9. Hello Tim,
    Its usually difficult to keep on reading and reading when you’re aware that you have lots of other works that needs your attention.

    I uses Pocket to save most of the webpages I would have loved to read but don’t have time to read it. I also uses Reading Lits tab on my Safari Ipad browser.

    However, talking of reading 20 pages of book, think its a very nice idea. I usually try as much as I can to read at least, 2 chapters per day.

    A very lovely article Tim.

    Thanks for sharing

    • Tim Soulo

      yep! to be honest my schedule got all messed up since I moved to Singapore.. I stopped reading in the mornings and didn’t read a single book ever since.. so for me this is a deal breaker.. I don’t think I’ll make myself read books again unless I commit to 20 pages every morning :)

  10. Great post Tim,
    Its really very difficult to keep up with all the information out there today because of too much of it.

    However, all the tips you just shared here are really great ways of fighting this. I use Rss Feed Reader to monitor all my favourite blogs, its just a simple Chrome extension.

    • Tim Soulo

      well.. I was recently hired by Ahrefs and now I barely read anything at all.. so much stuff has to be done..

      one other hack I use is OneTab extension for Chrome.. when I see cool articles I just open them as tabs in browser.. and then just save all my tabs into a nice list, sorted by date..

      then whenever I have some spare time to read, I’ll open my list of tabs and see if there’s something relevant to my current challenges :)

      hope this helps :)

  11. Ethel Paderes

    Content overload, indeed. :)

    For me, I use Feedly and Evernote (included in your list) and also, Trello! With all the ideas coming from everywhere, sure, it’s hard to keep up. Although I love reading, I can’t have all the time reading them all. These apps are really handy! Thanks for sharing this.

    • Tim Soulo

      Trello is something I always wanted to try but never had time to dive into.. perhaps you should do a post about your setup that includes using Trello.. I would definitely read that :)

  12. Well, it’s a little too easy, but its a real thing, the best thing is the image chart, which is exactly what you need too read… what about reading between lines? Is that something yu suggest? Let’s work together! We are a firm in Cancun, Mexico :)

  13. Great work. I totally agree that these days with everything going on, people developing new things it is a challenge to deal with all the information. Great tips to help overcome the situation.

  14. Hi Tim,

    People of this era are too busy to handle more information. It’s really hard to keep updated with the latest technology.

    I like the idea of joining leading communities in Twitter. It is easy to know more about today’s technology just by opening that one particular tweet of the community.

    But people need to study. It will some time to learn more, but you know getting more knowledge is the key for the best output.

    thanks for this wonderful post.
    Enjoy your day.
    ~Ravi

    • Tim Soulo

      thanks for the comment, Ravi..

      to be honest, since writing that post, my “information diet” became even worse.. I rarely read more than a couple articles per week.. and I pick them super carefully.. and most times I will read only parts of them (but sometimes there are masterpieces that are worth every minute you spend reading them)

  15. Information overload!

    I have been using a system in evernote for a while now, it has helped me a lot! Just do what you said, I clip things to evernote using the evernote clipper and tag them. When I am about to do something, I have all the best articles about the topic ready to go!

    The one I need to work on it setting an allotted amount of time to reading new content. Just got to add it to my schedule.

    Ok, thats enough for today. Back to work!
    Chris

    • Tim Soulo

      love how you ended your comment ;)

  16. Hey Tim,

    The problem with being in the information age is that there’s always something new to learn. Especially when it comes to tools and strategies.

    As you mentioned, I’m one who would read something and then forget about it later. One thing that I have been doing this year is publish roundup posts. I’ll go to past blog posts I read in my stash, pick 6 articles, and put them in a roundup. In this case, I usually implement what I read.

    Great post Tim! Have a great week ahead!

  17. I prefer to use Trello over Evernote, but could not live without Pocket :)

  18. Nyasha

    I am guilty of this disease but you offered some very practical advice to deal with it. And you are so right it’s so addictive.

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