Tuesday, May 10, 2016

How Do We Handle All Of The Information Coming At Us?

Have you ever heard a friend, colleague, or family member speak of the quantity of books that they have digested (read) in a short amount of time?  Has that conversation (one way) caused you stress?  Maybe you are not a book enthusiast, therefore, the thought has not crossed your mind.  Or, maybe the answer is yes and you have an inner dialogue with yourself asking the following question:

Why don't I have time to read that book that I have been reading for a year off and on?

I have had this dialogue plenty of times.  Furthermore, I have had the dialogue with friends who have the ability to digest a book in a day.  This seems impossible to me.  I used to spend time worrying that I have not been prioritizing my day to accompany the time to sit down and read the stack (rather large stack) of books that I have desired to read over the last few years.  I have been successful in reading.  Just not as fast as I would like.  If I could read faster, then I could digest and understand the deluge of information being hurled at me through books, e-mail, the internet, and newspapers along with journals.  Sound familiar?

What Is Referencing?

What is referencing?  To start with, the word reference implies that a bibliography or citation of a book, journal article, or magazine article is cited as a "reference."  If you visit the definition on "Dictionary.com" you will find the first definition stating the following: "an act or instance of referring."  Of course, scroll down the page further, and the verb form of the definition will be apparent as shown below:

I am attracted to number 13 "to arrange (notes, data, etc.) for easy reference."  Why?  That definition serves me very well in handling the daily deluge of information arriving in front of me via a screen or on paper.  My stress and anxiety are lowered as a result of using this approach toward handling incoming information.  Let me explain further.

Years ago, when my grandmother was still alive, we had a wonderful conversation over lunch -- which I will never forget.  I asked her what book she was currently reading.  She responded with "why do I only need to be reading one book at a time?"  This struck me as odd at the time.  Years later, I identified quite comfortably with her response.

She went on further with "... what happens if I do not like a book?  Am I compelled to read the entire book?  Maybe I only like part of the book?... After all, what is the purpose of reading a book?"  Entertaining these questions took a while -- a few years.

Years later when I was in graduate school studying chemistry, I would have similar discussions with my lab mates.  One of them was quite "well read" as a student of a variety of subjects.  While another held the personal view of the following:

"Having the knowledge of a large amount of books (having read them all) is not as important as having access to that knowledge."

This was pretty powerful for me.  Meaning, knowing where to find the information is just as important as holding that information in one's head.  After all, he said that the mental demand of such storage might well be overwhelming to a persons health -- in a negative way.

Just today, I was watching a talk by an entrepreneur named Tai Lopez.  The title of the talk is "Why I read A Book A Day (And You Should Too): The Law Of 33%" and is worth sitting through.  The length of the talk is around 15 minutes long.

Why am I mentioning this talk?

Often in life and more so today, the amount of information being thrown at us is analogous to drinking water out of a fire hose turned on full blast.  I find this completely overwhelming at times.  I find myself asking myself, how can I remember where I found this article, book, interesting thought?

Use Referencing?

Yes, use the concept of referencing.  Keep a track of the articles with a journal with a brief entry for each interesting article.  The same applies for a book that you find extremely interesting or just an excerpt from a book or a journal article.  The act of writing the excerpt or thought down alleviates your mind from feeling "bogged down" with trying to remember the location and importance of the thought at the moment -- at a later point in time.

Wait, but that is not all.... Be proactive!

In the video above, Tai speaks of reading a book each day.  In all honesty, the title is what drew me to the talk.  I sat through almost the entire talk to hear about reading a book everyday.  I thought that he might read a book each day.  No, he is not a speed reader.  And surprise, no he does not read an entire book each day.  But, he does pick up a book (a new book or sometimes an older book with good advice or thoughts in it) and sifts through the book.

He states in his talk that he reads the "table of contents" then proceeds to the ending.  Sometimes, he will read an excerpt out of an interesting chapter title.  This might sound like cheating.  Remember what my grandmother said, "Why do you have to finish the book?"  In fact, she was a proponent of reading parts of the book, then taking time off only to return later or sometimes not at all.

Does this sound familiar?

The simple act of reading parts that catch our eye, or all of the book is the same in the sense that the act is "referencing" the material.  The same can be applied to any material that comes our way.  With that being said, each person has their own method.  Stick to the one that works for you.

My partner -- Kayla is a skimmer.  She skims through books and articles.  She is referencing at lightning speed.  I am always amazed at watching her.  Whereas -- me -- mike is a slow reader and "references" at a much slower pace.  Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages.  What works for you?  How do you handle the information that is thrown your way?  Leave a comment.


At the moment, I am writing a blog post on "stress" and the effects on our bodies and minds that harboring "stress" has on us.  Stay tuned.  Until then, find a method to handle the tremendous amount of data coming at you.  Don't try to memorize it all.  Or do -- if that suits you.  For me, I take the approach of "referencing" the material to return and digest the information in bits and pieces at my leisure.  That way, I might be reading an excerpt and have a thought which I want to write about but cannot wait until I am finished reading to write about the thought.  Is that confusing?  It was in my mind too.

Each of us deserves to live a good life.  How do you digest knowledge to minimize your stress in life?  Until next time, have a great day.

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