Information Overload and BlogHerDC

When Elisa asked me if I would be part of the team that gave a presentation on information overload I was thrilled and also kind of blown away by the irony.

I got the e-mail two days later because I have too many e-mail addresses to have time to check them all every day. I have THOUSANDS of unread feeds in my reader. I was/am (I am in recovery) completely addicted to twitter.

I have serious internet issues. I can spend hours rearranging my netflix queue. I search for things that I have bookmarked just so that I might win something on blingo or winzy.* I could easily spends days looking at pictures on flickr that are tagged with BlogHer.

I even admitted during my panel that I never got a Facebook account for the same reason I never tried cocaine – I knew I would be the person who got addicted my very first time.**

So I started looking at ways to manage my own overload. Fortunately I had some help. Cindy Samuels and I worked on the presentation together and we got some fantastic tips from Beth Kanter who was giving the same session at BlogHer Boston.

I learned a lot about being overwhelmed by the internet and the blogging communities and the ever growing sphere of social media.

I learned a lot about myself.

If I could just give you a few tips – the things that were most helpful to me – these are the top five:

1) Step away from the computer. Don’t forget to live your real life.

If you are bad at that, set a timer. I wish I could remember who said it in our session, but an audience member actually uses an egg timer. Give yourself 20 minutes on Twitter. When the times goes off close the window.

2) You cannot read everything everybody writes. You may never catch up on your reader. It is okay. If somebody expects you to read every word that they write it is their problem, not yours. (Unless you are their editor, then they are paying you good money for that.)

3) If you blog for work, think of your social media hours as marketing and budget your time accordingly.

4) If you use Google Reader there is a great tool that I use on a regular basis. There is a little star in the top left corner of each post. If you click on the star in a post it will save to your “starred items” folder. This allows me to fly through my news/sports news feeds just saving the ones I really want to focus on for a time when I have the ability to really sit down and spend some time reading something. It is also very helpful when you are doing research for a post.

5) Utilize Google Alerts. They are great for researching topics for articles and a simple ego alert/alert for your url can save you time trying to figure out where your traffic is coming from.

Thanks to everyone who came to our session. It was a tough sell being up against the political panel in DC, but it was a great experience. I hope those of you were there got as much out of it as I did.

* In fact I have even been knows to search for the winzy site using blingo. I know – I am pathetic.

** Of course now every has convinced me that I NEED a Facebook page for business. I’ll be signing up for one later today – maybe, if I get around to it. Maybe tomorrow.

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  1. I am completely addicted to the internet. But, I refuse to do facebook and myspace b/c I know there is no going back from there.

    Hey, the post I wrote to answer your question go picked up in the express. Thanks!

  2. “I even admitted during my panel that I never got a Facebook account for the same reason I never tried cocaine – I knew I would be the person who got addicted my very first time.”

    Amen, Sister! Me too!

    THANK YOU for these tips…I need to get me a li’l egg timer… 😉

  3. Would love to see your presentation .. anyway, I scored 16 on my quiz – that is I’m behind help.

    A lot has to do with changing your bad habits.

  4. Sarah thanks for visiting my blog..I’ll be back to yours its really great and the info you just shared is vunderful…….

    Dorothy from grammology

  5. I use Bloglines, but also use the “keep new” feature for that very reason.

  6. I refuse to get a Facebook account because I finally gave into Myspace (with my real identity) and I refuse to join yet another social networking site (how many ways do I need to connect with my extended family?).

    But I should start spending less time on the internet.

  7. Come on! I need realistic tips, like how to go about adding more hours to the day.

  8. I just met up with some bloggy friends today and we talked about this very thing. I’m going to pass this post on…
    for those of us who can’t manage our addiction.

  9. I feel your pain. Not enough hours in the day. Between Linkedin, Plurk, Twitter, and three blogs, I have plenty of interconnection. Adding Facebook and MySpace and (God forbid more!) to my plate would turn the World Wide Web into my World Wide Nightmare. I say find where you fit and focus.

  10. Something we’ve done at our house (though maybe not practical for someone who actually uses the internet for work):

    Move the computer to a part of the house that you don’t use all the time.

    I have no computer on my main floor. It’s in the basement, in the office, where the kids don’t go. I don’t have a laptop or wifi. I’m archaic, I know, but it works.

  11. These are great tips! I think one of the hardest things for me is wanting to read everyone else’s blogs and not having the time. I basically barely have enough time to keep up my own writing… but feel guilty about expecting others to read ME when I don’t read THEM… ugh!


  12. It was a great presentation! I especially loved that tip about starring the posts in Reader so I can come back to those! I had no idea.

    I am still going to refuse joining Facebook (and doing cocaine). And you made me feel better about never joining Plurk. I can barely keep up with Twitter!

  13. There needs to be a meeting where we can introduce ourselves as internet addicts and have some steps to help us. I do the stars on my reader and that does help. And I can’t figure out how to tweet so my ineptitude helps too. Great post. I want to add you to my reader. Do I dare?

  14. Great tips! I love google reader–I can’t believe how much time it saves.

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