I have a confession to make: I’m an information hoarder. As a naturally analytical person whose confidence in my abilities waxes and wanes, information-gathering is a security blanket for me. If I am afraid of attacking something, I look up information on how other people do it, to make sure I’m heading in the right direction.
With my scientific background (my degree is in geology—go figure), the siren call of locking myself in a room and conducting research by myself without having to communicate with anyone is sometimes pretty tempting. However, too much information-collecting can be hazardous to my productive health. If I know that I can take the placebo of doing something instead of doing the right thing, on my most unsure days I would rather wrap myself in the blanket of research. The flip side of my addiction is that, if I get too much information, I scare myself all over again and become inert with indecision. Bad news, right?
My agreement with myself is this: if I am a good girl, and accomplish the finite list of to-dos that can possibly be accomplished, I will allow myself time for research. If a project demands research, I will give myself parameters (e.g. only the first page of Google results; three pages of draft fodder from other sources; five document downloads) to make sure I don’t get carried away. These guidelines keep the ratio of static information to action more manageable and allows me to stay productive, despite any uncertainty I might be feeling.
Do you have any tactics to deal with information overload? I know I’m not the only one who has this issue, and comments are always encouraged!
While I would love to tell you that I sprang full-grown from the foam of the artistic sea, I actually earned my degree in geology and English Composition. Part of that research scientist nerdiness is still with me, however, and development research makes me drool a little. Ok, a lot.
So when The Arts Index (a project of Americans for the Arts) came to my attention, I was super stoked. Not only was it a research project, but its data is readily useable by those who need it. (As much as I love research, I admit that getting relevant findings to the public in a useable way is often an issue.)