Hoarding information is different from building up knowledge. When we fall prey to information overload, we suffer from the failure of our attention filter.
When something captures our attention, we should ask why.
Why is it interesting to us?
When we buy a book, we should also find the time needed to read it. We are betting on our reputation. What is the value it can add to our life? Will we read it? Will we learn from it? Will we make the best use of the information it contains? Will we integrate new vital concepts into our knowledge wealth?
Failing to clarify our motivations leads to the accumulation of dead weight. The search for information is impeding our growth like encrusted salt on flamingos’ legs making their flight deadly impossible. It’s a black hole entrapping our attention at the horizon of rationality, imprisoning our free will, dissolving our time.
We want to search for knowledge, instead. Finding the best information when we need it, where we need it, to achieve the goals that will make us advance in life. It’s a springboard to our elevation—a propulsor for our levitation.
You can fight information overload by stopping and reflecting. The next time you find a brand new shiny thing, ask yourself: “why is that interesting to me”?
An effective answer contains three elements:
- Explain the reasons why you find it relevant.
- It’s a breakthrough concept in my professional field. I want to be up-to-date.
- I like the story, it stimulates my imagination.
- It’s an important topic for everybody, and I know nothing about it.
- Commit to extracting the best knowledge out of it.
- I’ll book a Pomodoro of study on my calendar every day for the next two weeks.
- I’ll listen to the audiobook during my daily walk. I’ll take voice notes that I will transcribe.
- I’ll draw a visual map of the key concepts.
- Make yourself accountable to give the highest value to the time and resources you’ll dedicate to your commitment.
- I’ll commit with a trusted friend to write a review within a month.
- I’ll write a blog post describing it and promise I will write a review about it.
- I’ll read it together with a group of people in a weekly book club.
I’ve failed, gloriously, for years. And I keep on falling several times per day. But I am not lost, when I suddenly wake up from the torpor of the infinite black hole, and I ask “why is this interesting to me”?
How do you preserve your attention?
What’s your strategy for managing your interests?
How do you save yourself from black holes?