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« WeAreMedia: Social Media Listening Has Value - and You Can Win A T-Shirt Too! | Main | What color is the social web? »


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Do you have a survey monkey on this? It is just impractical to answer yes to all, and truly, I do not have the time (TM)

As clarification, I do not feel bad about not reading all that avalanche of info: I get what I can, and let the noosphere catch the rest; the important bits will resurface again.


I started to take this quiz, but halfway through I forgot if I was keeping track of the yes or no responses. I intended to start it over, but the question about pending emails made me remember that I had started a task this morning and hadn't completed it.

Michael Waugaman

15 answers 'yes'. that's not good really, is it? :(


question 15: i always check with my "fiends" online before any major decision...

turns out i have less bad habits than i thought. of course, i may have fudged a few nos.

Additional question: do you find yourself easily distracted by online resources that allow you to avoid other, pending work?

um, yes.

Christine Egger

Hi Beth,

Great questions/post. Only suggestions for the list: split 19 into two questions, and change 20 so a yes answer is an overload-indicator like the others.

I said yes to 10, and as feel that I really don't cope well with online-info-overload, I can't imagine how it would feel to score even higher! What's most helpful about these questions, the chart, and the reflection questions is how you're distinguishing between "amounts of information" and "our mindset as we interact with amounts of information." Several of the questions in your list hint that the feeling of overload isn't coming specifically from the amount of info, but about the mindset: in #13, for example, it's "feeling badly" about not keeping up with the blogs in our reader that needs to be coped with, not (necessarily) the number of blogs.

We're making value judgments not just about each piece of information but about how we're dealing with it, too. Stress (feeling overloaded and unable to copy) is often a side-affect of the assumptions -- the value judgments -- we bring to a task. It's a side-effect of the differential between what we think we SHOULD be able to to and what we're able to do. For me, I can tell that believing I should be able to read, process, LEARN from, and respond to much more of the info that comes to me than I can -- bringing that mindset with me every time I open my inbox, etc. -- that's what putting me just one "yes" away from needing help, according to your chart. And believing that I should be keeping up with many more opportunities to read, process, learn, and respond than I am is also keeping me from getting offline *often* to do the kind of deep, reflective, critical thinking about the new information that would really add value when I DO respond.


At least, reading your post, I feel I'm in good company. And recognizing I have a problem is an important part of the solution, right :)

Thanks for the post and the invitation to reflect, and for all you're doing to get new info-skills out to those of us who need them.

Ashley Messick

Great quiz, although to be honest the only one of my "Yes" answers that concerns me is that I do find myself anxious when away from the internet for too long. Is it bad that instead I just cope by using my iPhone?

One way that I have found works for me with managing my RSS feeds is to use Google Reader and organize in a way that works for me. I organize by category (Friends, Nonprofit Tech, Nonprofit Health, Nonprofit Social Media, Tech, Fundraising, and so on), within those folders I organize with my "favorites" or the ones that I feel have consistently relevant posts for me at the top and on down, and then I organize the folders themselves into the ones that are my favorites and so on down. That way if I only have ten minutes one day I can quickly go in and read a post or two that I know will be less likely to leave be feeling unsatisfied.

I also have some folders or blogs that I like to have just for information, such as TechCrunch or CNN Politics, but that can quickly get overwhelming. I try to glance at them when I have time but don't consider them "essential" so if the number of unread posts climbs too high I simply "mark all as read" and move on with my day. Takes the stress of those "unread posts" sitting in my reader. And let's face it there's just too much information on some blogs to ever tackle.

Anyone else organize their RSS reader in a different way? Always looking to try new tips!


Can't wait to meet you too!


If I take my iphone to the bathroom with me, do I score 2 points for that question?! Great post. Really useful. It's interesting how you include both practical and emotional elements of overload. "Can't get to it all" and "feel bad". I often don't read everything, or skips days on Twitter or my RSS reader, but I don't feel bad about it. I guess that really matters.


I scored a 12 - I need help, lol! Being older and knowing my technological limitations, the result wasn't surprising. What was suprising was that I didn't score higher!

Really like Ashley's tips re: Google Reader and will check on the possibilities.

Re: social media/2.0 - as a beginner I usually suffer from information overload and struggle with searching out info on the basics along with ways to implement the various tools. Another struggle comes into play simply because I work for a VERY small non-profit where I am the only one with even a clue about social media. How sad is that?? Lol!

Beth, I appreciate the quiz, the questions and the opportunity to reflect on my own situation. Even though some of your posts are beyond my current understanding, I find a lot of value in what you share and count them as part of a much needed education!

Laura Whitehead

Hi Beth!

Very timely as have recently had a big stock check on information overload vs. time management.

Have done a big confessional post to admit I'm an information addict, and the steps I've recently taken to manage myself vs. information overload all a little better!

I look forward to hearing and reading the feedback from the BlogHer event, I'm sure we'll all learn so many new ways to keep on top of it all!

Paul Webster

13 if i'm honest ... 15 if really honest - eek!

Where's the support therapy group ?

BTW - not a problem tweeting from the bathroom on the phone, its the one place I can get away from my laptop!

Erin McMahon

I'm a 10.5 (#16 is 'sometimes'). :) I am currently in the process of trying to filter out feeds in my reader and follows on twitter. Hard to do... so many worthwhile blogs and people tweeting out there...

One tip that has stuck with me that has worked (when I have implemented it, which is not frequently enough) is to set a frequency for email checking and set the time of day for each check-in. Stick to it; ignore email until those magic times. During those check-in times, I go through each message by either responding if I can quickly, filing if I need to save it for reference, adding it to my to-do list if it needs more action than what I can accomplish there and then, or deleting if it's an FYI. That covers most of what I get.

Now that I have written that down, I am re-motivated to keep at that!

@Maria - regarding my RSS reader, I also use G reader, and I am not necessarily recommending this (I am not sure whether it helps or hurts me) but I scan new items when I get too busy to really read and then tag everything I think I may ever want to come back to. So I end up with a lengthy list of tags, but my reader is like a tome of quality reference material. I should probably use folders more though, much as you do. That sounds helpful!


They're good questions.. And they certainly made me stop and think. (I actually start my day with the blackberry IN the bathroom -- deleting all the flotsam and jetsam before it creeps into the day -- cursing those that didn't write me back and cursing those that did).

But I think you've confused "information overload" (as in too much information) with being "busy" or even "too busy." They're not the same things. Not having enough time to do things is not necessarily because I have too much information. It might be because I have too much to do!

As well, some of your questions point to so-called "addictive behavior" -- others are a result of a demanding or busy life -- still others are, it seems to me, indicative of "too much uncategorized data" (not information).

Finally, there is a plethora of information... But that's not all bad. I actually think it's GOOD to have lots of stuff to throw into the brain-hopper, shake, and see what falls out.

Then again, I've never shied away from making decisions on just "some" information. Good decisions can be made when you know "enough." And in fact it's easier if you don't know "too much." That leads to analysis paralysis.

By the way, if you’re looking for stuff on visual processing of information, the military has done a lot of work on just how much is “too much,” how visual displays can help and what are the limits. Most of it was done in the use of HUD (heads up displays) in fighter jets. As I recall, they found a magic balance of the types of displays (analog vs binary) and the number of different things one person can effectively use and keep track of. Needless to say, it is also a learned behavior. Damn if I can remember (information overload or old age?)… but I think it was something like 3 or 4 primary information points and our minds can grok displays of binary information first (red light or green light), analog information next (clock face), and finally digital data (like a list of number or percentages). Finally, words on a page is last – richest but last.

Botgirl Questi

I suggest adding this as the first question:

1. Are you able to stay focused enough to answer every question in this quiz? (Don't answer until you're done or feel compelled to move on.)


Hi Beth. I saw you speak at BlogHer Boston. I didn't think I had an overload problem until I took your quiz. I'm working on making some changes this week. Thanks!


Half reading a blog post or a mail, and returning after some time to read it well is double-work ! Like taking the time to print it and, some time later reading this printed page during work hours : also double-work !

Read it right away, or not at all, and you will save time !


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