Information filters

It’s difficult to remain focussed, with the volume of information on our digital highways. To do so requires information filters.

According to respected neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, on average you’re exposed to 5 times more information today than you would have been back in 1976. That’s about 175 newspapers read cover to cover. He also estimates there’s about 300 Exabyte’s of information out there in our world today. A few years ago Google approximated it was about 30 Exabyte’s. So that suggests in the last few years we’ve generated more information than all of human history did before us. Shocking claims indeed.

And if you’re wondering how big an Exabyte’s is, it’s a number with 18 zeroes behind it.

What Filtering?

But with that amount of information, there’s an equal amount of difficult choices. How the hell does anyone sift through it all? The source, outlet, medium, delivery, even category all have their pros and cons.

And by having so many options, will that add self-doubt into the mix? Which sources do we ignore? Which can we trust? Is the information credible and recent? The potential for confusion is high. So too the potential for choosing poorly.

But there’s also an extra set of questions we need to ask ourselves. How does the information we take on and absorb, affect us? How do we decipher if it’s useless or beneficial? Is the information we’re acquiring impacting upon our mindset in a positive or negative way? Damnit so many questions, so few answers! Therefore, we need information filters.

My Filtering.

Many years ago, I developed a framework for selecting the information I would take on board. It was my first step in creating information filters;

  • It must have value and come from a trusted source.
  • It must help me to learn and improve.
  • If it is an opinion piece, it will be stress tested against facts.
  • If it unnecessarily creates a shift in my mindset toward negativity or anger, it will be discarded.

Having these information filters doesn’t mean I ignore any of the tragedy’s occurring in our world. They help me to avoid being consumed by the information surrounding them. It’s one thing to be shocked or impressed by a piece of recently observed information. It’s another thing entirely to be consumed or overwhelmed by that which we cannot understand or enjoy.

Your Filtering.

Applying information filters does not promote ignorance. It promotes clarity and understanding. By remaining focussed on quality, fact-based information that’s relative to your current situation, you’re giving yourself a better chance at learning and/or improving your position. People who’d suggest you’re being wilfully ignorant for having information filters do so because your choices are not in line with theirs. Or to be more accurate, not in line with their opinions.

But how do you decide upon your own set of information filters? You need to start by observing what you already allow through. Consider these following points.

  • What are your sources of information? Are they trusted advisors who have credibility in their field? Or are you just listening to a source who’s noisier than all the rest?
  • How do you relate to this information? Is it in line with your ideas and ideals? Does it “fit”?
  • How are you affected by the information you absorb? Is it upsetting you or uplifting and inspiring you? Being informed is one thing, being negatively impacted is quite another.

Keep Filtering.

Always keep your information filters in line with your values. Your mindset will respond better to information around topics that resonate with you. And make sure they’re relevant to your interests, or what makes you curious. What is it you like to do/enjoy? What do you want to learn about right now? By applying filters to the information you’re exposed to, you’ll improve your focus on what you want to achieve. Keep the information relative to your “here and now” and allow it to educate you for your future.

Your best information filters will restrict the flow down to a handful of trusted and reliable sources. You’ll learn far sooner if that trust and reliability is becoming an issue. With less overwhelm in your life, and fewer streams of information to filter, the power of your choices will positively impact your ability to focus. You’ll learn more about what you want to, in a shorter space of time, with less conflicting points of view.

Do you already apply information filters? If so, what’s your filter criteria?