We are all working in an information soup at this precise time. The Internet is a gateway to countless untold items of interest, and in part, there lays the problem.
I wanted to cover three points in this article.
- The annoyance of not finding quite what you want
- Something distracting that takes your eye off the ball
- Seemingly no end to the information river
Navigating information overload
Image Source: Commons by Moebius
The annoyance of not finding quite what you want
Say that you had a very specific search term in mind for Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask or DuckDuckGo.
You punch that query in and none of the matches exactly cover what you are looking for. In fact, most of the results cover something else very specifically but that results is not what you are interested in.
So you adjust your search numerous times and find that nobody is talking about that problem.
Say that you want to avoid a particular website’s result because you’ve been there already or you know it will be biased in a way that won’t help you.
Something distracting that takes your eye off the ball
It’s often those links in the footer of an article that are in some way sponsored links. The ones that take you into a networked article zone and you get lost for 30 minutes on speculation about the next Marvel film. It could be related videos in YouTube. It could be anything that takes you from your original place of viewing.
Seemingly no end to the information river
I find this with Twitter more than anything else. This is mostly because the churn rate of tweets (those coming through the pipe) is far greater than I can process.
I followed Ricky Gervais for a time on Twitter and found I had to stop following him very quickly. The reason was that his information didn’t add anything of value to my day and came through so often that I just grew weary of it.
What can you learn from all of this? What key thing should you do if you are searching for a purpose?
Stick to a game plan.
Searching can become very unproductive if you go into it with no plan of action. Say that you are trying to research your next article and you already have a title in mind but then you need to add something else useful to it and you need to research a bit before you find what you are looking for. Basically you should have some form of search plan. It doesn’t have to be written down but it may aid you if you have a little notepad document open or a physical notepad so that you remember what you are there for.
Bookmark for later
Say you come across something that looks interesting but you are on a mission. This is why bookmarks were invented. Bookmark the page in your browser, put some useful notes against what it is for then move on to your goal.
Setting an audible time limit
Often people work better to some implied time constraint. Setting yourself an alarm that sounds should push you to try and complete your goal in a timely fashion. Being under the cosh is normally a great way to keep your goal in the frame of your mind, to be honest, time is money. You don’t want to dally with this task. You want more time to enjoy some entertainment or get something pushed out.
Remove anything that is non-productive
If you’ve battled with something that no longer gives you value, why on earth would you keep it going? Sometimes the best part of battlefield surgery is to cut off that immobile limb and save the patient. People relate guilt with not trying hard enough for long enough but often there is no harm in declaring defeat a little early and working on something that does work. You can lose more time through trying to make it work than moving on with a more productive plan. Cease the day!
Learn how to search more effectively
This guide from Dharmesh Shah is very helpful for Google searches. There are more useful tips just a search away (ironic).
If you don’t find the result rapidly in one place, try in another.
If Google comes up blank, try Bing, Yahoo or DuckDuckGo. The famous “filter bubble” might be in effect that is preventing you accessing what you need because you’ve been looking at too many searches that profile your results in a different way.
YouTube is not the only video receptacle. You may find Vimeo has what you need.
If you are looking for an image on Google Images and can’t find what you need, Bing’s image search might help you (by comparison they are both on a similar level and I would have no issues using either).
Silence the voices
If you are actually hearing voices in your head, consult your Doctor and avoid the assault weapon rack at your local supermarket.
If you are getting bombarded by nonsense and it shows no sign of getting better, mute or remove the source. You don’t need that distraction ruining your day!