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How to deal with information overload

My wife gets home from work and asks: “Did you see Mark Zuckerberg’s live video on Facebook?"

Marks-Arm-Broken-Seinfeld-min

I answer: "Nope, I didn't watch it"

This would seem unusual considering I spend more hours connected to the Internet staring at a screen than most humans (my wife says my laptop is an extension of my body).

The reason why I missed Mark Zuckerberg’s first live stream video, where he had a somewhat awkward interaction with Jerry Seinfeld, is because I was not one of the 1 billion people connected to Facebook when he went live.

I was also not on Facebook when the Chewbacca mom broke all viral video records a couple weeks ago.

I also found about the horrible massacre in Orlando several hours later after it was world news.

It seems that I live in this continuous oblivion. And I do, not by chance but by design.

Zuck talking about his partially broken left arm to Seinfeld, a mom laughing hysterically wearing a Chewbacca mask, a horrible massacre, a war in Siria, an earthquake in Chile, a tsunami in Japan, a ludicrous USA election, bad news, good news, funny videos, sad videos, viral videos, more news, more videos.. information, more information... information OVERLOAD.

If I am lucky I'll live around 15 thousand more days. I've got about 10 thousand days left where I'll have enough mental and physical capacity to do my best work.

Every piece of information that I let enter my brain will consume valuable time and brain cycles.

This means being selective about what information we choose to consume is crucial to make the most of our time on this earth.

We need an information consumption selection criteria. A filter by which to decide what should we pay attention to or not.

There are four types of qualifying criteria for information: Negative, Positive, Useful, and Useless

If we plot them on a chart we would get 4 quadrants: Q1: Negative-Useful, Q2: Negative-Useless, Q3: Positive-Useful, and Q4: Positive-Useless

INFORMATION TYPE CHART:

info-types

Most world news belong to the Negative-Useless quadrant. That is information that is depressing and that we can't do much about.

If you can do something meaningful about negative information then it would fall under the Negative-Useful quadrant. ie: Donate to a cause or go help people affected by a disaster.

Another type of Negative-Useful information is negative feedback. Elon Musk considers this one of the most important types information to get better at anything faster.

Most viral content belongs to the Positive-Useless quadrant. Those are the "Chewbacca mom" and "Double-rainbow" videos we love to binge-watch but that are the perfect fuel to procrastination and the enemy of any meaningful progress.

The information that we should focus on most of our time lives inside the Positive-Useful quadrant. In this quadrant is where we can grow the most, learn the most, become a better person and feel most fulfilled. (I know it's hard to stay here, the attraction force of Quadrant 4 is much too strong for most of us...)

Consuming and storing information that won't have a positive impact on us or, that we cannot apply towards doing something meaningful, won't do us or the world any good.

This is why I consciously try to avoid Negative-Useless and Positive-Useless information and focus on consuming as much Positive-Useful information from Quadrant 3 as possible.

I call this “selective ignorance” which I believe it's necessary to deal with information overload and to avoid being depressed and feeling unproductive all the time.

What’s my point? This is a long winded way of saying that missing out on Zuck's video makes me happy because it’s an indirect indication that I was being productive today. (Of course, later on I got "zucked" into the Zuck vortex and watched it but it surely didn't help me finish my work for the day!)

What do you think.. do you see any value in being selectively ignorant?

Peace, Love, and selectively ignorant cookies,

Miguel

P.S. In this post I was going to talk about my favourite blog and about my plans to meet Elon Musk. I hope I can write it next week unless I get zucked into another impromptu vortex coming out of Quadrant 4.

P.2. In case you missed it you can watch the Seinfeld vs Zuckerberg live stream video here: https://www.facebook.com/zuck/videos/10102895343490231/ (to be watched only after a good solid hour of productive work 😉 )

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