How To Take The Overload Out Of The Information Age

In this week’s message, you’ll discover how to quickly hone in on the information that really matters to you, so you lose the stress and sleepless nights that come when you’re trying to process too much at one time. You’ll also discover some quick tips for cleaning up an unwieldy inbox and using lists to be more creative, relaxed and focused. Of course, you’ll get a playful productivity boost as well!

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How To Take The Overload Out Of The Information Age

In this week’s message, you’ll discover how to quickly hone in on the information that really matters to you, so you lose the stress and sleepless nights that come when you’re trying to process too much at one time. You’ll also discover some quick tips for cleaning up an unwieldy inbox and using lists to be more creative, relaxed and focused. Of course, you’ll get a playful productivity boost as well!

Hi, I’m Elari Onawa, I’ve been a Life On Purpose Coach since 2003. That’s when I took the leap from 20+ years of successful corporate leadership positions to helping people discover more purpose and passion. I’m also the author of Just Believe: How Faith In Yourself Shifts Everything!

Welcome to this week’s message for living your version of awesome, welcome to “How To Take The Overload Out Of The Information Age”.

You’ve heard it said that we live in an abundant universe that is always expanding. This seems especially true in the area of information. The rate at which information is expanding is considered to be one of the biggest stressors in many workplaces and the cause of many sleepless nights.

These are the potential symptoms of information overload. See if any of these feel familiar to you.

Symptoms Of Information Overload:

– you feel like you’re not as productive as you used to be
– you can’t sleep, because your mind is racing
– you feel overwhelmed, anxious or unfocused
– you’re procrastinating because you don’t know where to start
– you feel stressed out or annoyed or overwhelmed by everything you have to process

These are all signs that you may be trying to process too much information.

Look at it this way.

The number of books and websites and news sources is like the Universe’s biggest candy store for the curious mind.

Curiosity is, of course, a powerful soul attribute. We absolutely need it if we want to learn anything new. However, in an age of unprecedented information growth, we need to be purposeful in how we use the information that’s available to us. We need a good, purpose-driven strategy for relating to the information age.

Otherwise, we’ll just keep adding to those symptoms of overwhelm, stress and sleepless nights. It is simply not possible for the human brain to process that much information and frankly we don’t need or really want to.

In the blink of an eye, we can be online searching Google. If we follow the infinite web of hyperlinks and detours, we can invest massive amounts of time searching, while adding very little value to our lives. And if we try to read every book or email, we can get off-track, lose focus, procrastinate, feel stuck and put added pressure on ourselves. We can even create feelings of guilt from the “unfinished projects”.

Right now there are over 5 quintillion bytes of data created every day. That’s five followed by eighteen zeroes! But, the amount of data is not actually a problem. It just is.

The true opportunity rests in how we relate to information. If we think we have to consume all of it or more of it than we think we’re capable of processing, it will naturally become a big problem. It will naturally make us feel stressed.

If we want to accomplish more of what matters most, then we need a new set of tools for choosing and processing information well.
To start off, we want to claim control of the information we consume, and we need to be much more discerning and selective than our ancestors had to be. We want to be in the driver’s seat, so we can use information for our individual purposes, rather than letting information use us.

There are 2 components to using information well, for your highest benefit.

1. Choose what you will consume based on relevancy and purpose


2. Maximize the value of what you do consume.

I’ve already covered how to maximize the value of the information you choose in my message “Making Information Count”. If you missed that, or want to review it, you’ll find it here at this link.

In this week’s message, we’re going to talk about how to filter all that information quickly and easily, so you can focus on what truly matters to you now.

In this discernment step, you are being strategic about how you are investing your time and energy. You’re creating a powerful filtering system. And this filtering system helps you quickly discern what is truly relevant and currently of the most value to you. With a good filter, you can quickly choose what is really important, versus what’s merely interesting. Remember as curious souls, information can often feel like candy does to someone who loves sweets. I myself fall into this category!

But, with a good filtering method, we can quickly empty our inboxes, read only what’s personally relevant, stay focused on what really matters, and stop giving away our precious energy to low-value information.

So, how do you create a powerful filtering system that allows you to quickly choose what to read, what to ignore, and what to schedule for a later time?

Here’s how — before you jump onto the next webpage, follow the trail of hyperlinks or read your next book or email, ask yourself this simple question:

Does this information support an important goal I’m currently committed to, or does it solve a pressing problem?

Notice that this question helps you focus on what will have the greatest impact for you now. Knowing this helps you sort and filter quickly. The added benefit is that timeliness and purpose help you anchor information in a deeper way, beyond the conceptual level. You learn faster when you are choosing with purpose, and then use information shortly after consuming it. You anchor it!

So, if you answer yes to the question; does this information support an important goal I’m currently committed to, or does it solve a pressing problem — then what you’re reviewing is worth your time and focus. Read it now or schedule it on your calendar when you can give it your full attention. If the information matters, make it count by giving it your full attention.

If you answer no to this question, in other words, the information doesn’t help you with a current important goal or a pressing concern, then it’s not currently relevant to you. So now, you can quickly decide what to delete, stop reading, file away, or schedule to read at another time.

The key is to do this often and quickly, so you don’t have open loops in your inbox, To Do or on your reading lists.

Open loops, those things we think we should do, but don’t do, are major contributors to stress, information overload, self-doubt and feeling like you have too much to do. This also means giving yourself permission to stop reading a book, even if you’re in the middle of it. If it’s not currently relevant, then close it and consider it complete. You’ll feel better because you’ve closed an open-loop and freed yourself to focus on something that’s currently more important or meaningful!

For clarity, I’m not talking about reading for pleasure here. This filtering method is best used if you feel like you have to process a lot of information and you’re feeling overwhelmed, stuck or stressed out about it, or want to be more productive or organized.

Here Are A Few Quick Tips For Cleaning Up Your Inbox:

– For cleaning purposes, sort your inbox by sender. Then you can select large blocks of emails and either delete them or file them quickly. You can sort them by date after you’ve cleared your inbox so your most recent messages are at the top.
– Once a year, unsubscribe to anything you’re not using or don’t value.
– Consider creating a separate email account for shopping online. That way, all promotional emails are in a separate place, so you can review them at your convenience. If you use Google mail, it will do this automatically. You can even drag any emails you don’t want to miss into your main inbox, so what you check every day is most relevant.
Once your inbox is clean, empty it every day using the filtering question I gave you. It goes very quickly once you’ve done it a few times. Respond to it, file it, delete it or schedule it on your calendar if you want to read it later.
– If an email is relevant and requires an answer or action, and you can answer it in 2 minutes or less, go ahead and do it now. If it takes longer than that, schedule it when you have a block of time to act on it.

Here Are A Few Tips For Managing A Long To-Do List:

– If you have something that’s been on your list for a while, and you never get around to it, move it to a “Maybe Someday” or “Future Possibilities” list. Stop looking at it, because that only reminds you that it’s not done. Maybe it doesn’t need to be done, or it’s better to play with it at a later date.
Use lists to help you focus better and free your mind from trying to keep track of all those threads. You’ll be more creative and relaxed.
Do your best to keep only the actions you can complete today in front of you. This will mean setting up multiple lists to help you focus well. As examples, I have a Today List that’s only for what I am working on today. I also have an Ideas List to capture those quick insights, an Errands List to remind me about the things I need to pick up or drop off, a Future Possibilities list for things I might do someday, and I have project-related lists. This may seem like a lot, but it doesn’t feel that way, because sorting them in this way allows me to focus only on what’s relevant today and in the present moment. It feels manageable and I feel relaxed, because I know my ideas and future actions are safely stored away and accessible when I need them.
Once a week review your lists and choose what will get done in the upcoming week.
Put your lists in one location where you can easily access them. I put mine on a cloud, so I can access them from my computer, phone or tablet, and they’re always in sync. I use an application called Things by Culture Code for Apple products if you’re interested. If you use a PC or other Smartphone, you’ll find lots of other options out there. The key is to use a list tool every day, so you can get all the stuff out of your head, and into a place where you can easily get to it when you need to review and do it. This can be life-changing!
I also recommend doing an annual or twice-yearly visioning and planning day, where you identify your deepest desires and priorities for the upcoming period and map out what you want to do, experience, explore and contribute. This gives you a sense of direction, purpose and helps you focus on what truly matters to you!

One final note about doing and being. Be on purpose, choose who you will be or how you will show up as you do, as you take action and as you play in the sandbox of time and space.

Being playful and expecting the best as you plan and take action is the magic sweet spot.

So, there you have it:

✔︎ a simple, yet powerful filtering system for managing large amounts of information quickly
✔︎ tips for cleaning up an unwieldy inbox and
✔︎ powerful tips for using lists so you can relax, be more creative, organized and focus better.

If you found this message helpful, share it with others! If you’re a subscriber, you can forward this week’s message by clicking on the forward button in your email, or you can choose from the plethora of sharing options below the video.

And if you are ready to go to the next level, or want help applying what you’re learning here, I’m here to help you create that! You can schedule your first session here at this link. 

Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next week!

Much Love, 


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