Conferences are one of my favorite things. I know several friends of mine who highly dislike them for different reasons. One reason may be that you always end up feeling inadequate in comparison to the presenters and the mass of people who are also attending. Another reason is simply a classic case of information overload. In an age when information has never been more available, it can be outrageously overwhelming. On a daily basis, my Google Reader is impacted with information from a lot of people I respect and really do want to hear from, but there is no way I will be able to ingest all the information in my Reader alone; let alone the magazines, books, conversations, links...
How do you keep up with the age of information?
- Be Selective - Not all information is worthwhile information. What sorts of things should you be reading for what you do? What sorts of things are outside your normal readership and lifestyle which might help you be more creative (keep a few of those). BUT What things are just not worth the time? Clean up your reader.
- Browse - One of the best books I have ever read is How To Read A Book by Mortimer Adler. One strong understanding his reader comes away with is that not all books are worth reading critically, and most of us read all of our books critically. It is the same for all web-based information we take in. Learn the art of browsing. Most things are not worth reading every word.
- List - At conferences, I will take frantic notes on as much as possible in my journal. From time to time I will make a start or two depending on how much I not only like the point made, but more particularly based on how much "I really want to remember that." After the conference I go back through my notes and make a list of the top 5 things I want to remember and write them out nice and clean on their own page.When you are reading infinite amounts information a day, make a list of a few things per day that you really want to remember. Maybe email a link to yourself for further reflection at a later time. Just choose a few things per day that you really want to take hold of.
- RELAX - IT IS OKAY that you can't remember everything. The flood of information will never let up. It will only get faster and more prevalent. Just relax! Follow a few of these steps and you may be able to avoid the anxiety.