Surviving Information Overload
By Rick Warren
— May 10, 2009
“But, My son, be warned: there is no end of opinions ready to be expressed. Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting!” (Ecclesiastes 12:12 LB).
We live in the Information Age, where more and more people in the labor force are becoming “knowledge workers” involved in collecting, analyzing, organizing, storing, retrieving, or communicating information.
Getting the right information is vital to your success. But do you ever feel overwhelmed by the information you’re already bombarded with each day? You have good reason: We have produced more information in the last forty years than in the previous five thousand.
Just within the U.S., nearly fifty thousand books and ten thousand magazines are published each year; every single day, researchers and scientists produce seven thousand new scientific papers; and the average person is confronted with about one hundred forty advertising messages a day, or about fifty thousand a year.
We are drowning in information. In one day, we are bombarded with more information than a typical person in the sixteenth century might have encountered in a lifetime! What’s more, it’s getting worse! The amount of information available to you now doubles every five years; that means five years from today, there will be twice as much known in your field as there is today.
Solomon, whom the Bible called the wisest man ever, understood this problem. While speaking about the many books being published just in his time, he said, “Be warned: there is no end of opinions ready to be expressed. Studying them can go on forever and become very exhausting!” (Ecclesiastes 12:12 LB). Here are three skills for surviving information overload.
1. You need to know what’s worth knowing and what isn’t. Selection is the first key to survival.
2. You need to understand the meaning of what you know. This comes from seeing the big picture. Perspective enables you to see how things relate.
3. You need to know what to do with what you know.
When you possess these three skills it is called having wisdom! Wisdom is even more critical to your success than knowledge. Wisdom turns information into power. How do I get more wisdom?
First, ask God for wisdom. He wants to help you: “If any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all” (James 1:5 TEV).
Second, read the Bible and follow God’s instructions: “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25 NIV).