As a freelancer, I spend most of my time trying to manage information overload. Like Charles, I use spaces to quarantine focused work from other distractions, and I have some tricks for efficient RSS reading, creative uses of RSS to increase efficiency, and filtering techniques to help reduce the time I need to spend consuming information. Despite this obsession with efficiently gathering information, there are also times when I actively seek out information overload.
While a fire hose of notifications and feeds can be too distracting when I’m working on things for client, if I’m looking for inspiration for a new blog post or new venture of some sort, I want to see as much information as possible in the hope that something will catch my eye and provide the inspiration that I need.
Here are a few of my favorite tools for embracing information overload. Please beware that these tools are known to sap productivity and suck up precious hours that can never be regained! Use these techniques at your own risk.
FriendFeed Notifier will send you pop-up messages every time one of your friends posts something to FriendFeed or comments on a post. For maximum information overload, make sure that you select the following options: show updates when someone comments on my posts, show updates from my home feed, and show posts and all comments. For the wimpier among us, you can choose to show updates only from a small list of friends or show posts only.
Tweetdeck or other Twitter clients with notifications turned on at full blast. I’ve talked about using reduced notifications with Tweetdeck to get targeted notifications for groups and searches, but for the full effect, you can also get notifications for the “all friends” feed (in other words, notifications for every single tweet). If you set this up right, you can get duplicate notifications for all of the tweets posted on FriendFeed and the tweets coming in through your Twitter client. I’m joking! I suggest only using one of the two options presented so far at a time, unless you really are a glutton for punishment.
Snackr gives you a scrolling RSS ticker with news from your feeds. You can even import everything from your RSS reader and have huge quantities of information scrolling across the bottom of your screen all day. I admit that would probably be a bit much. I took a subset of my feeds with my favorite tech news blogs along with a few interesting people, and I imported that subset into Snackr.
What are your tips for embracing information overload?