Hi there fellow avid book readers!
Today’s topic I came across isn’t something new to me. It’s more of a reminder.
Inundated by Information
We’re living in a time of crazy unprecedented inundation of information.
Malcolm Gladwell put it more eloquently than I can in his book Blink.
We live in a world saturated with information. We have virtually unlimited amounts of data at our fingertips at all times, and we’re well versed in arguments about the dangers of not knowing enough and not doing our homework. But I have sensed enormous frustration with the unexpected costs of knowing too much, of being inundated with information. We have come to confuse information with understanding.
I don’t know about you but if you’re like me, I definitely have felt this way before 😕
I’ve often felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information, misinformation and conflicting information whenever I embark upon a new quest of research for a product, topic, restaurant or holiday destination choice.
Ok that’s still not too bad.
When it comes to even bigger decisions. Life decisions. I feel like I need to find out everything about it before I will decide.
Of course, this leads to analysis paralysis which in turn leads to putting off the decision.
To make matters worse, the fact that we are living in a time where we have access to unlimited information at our fingertips makes it so easy to put off making a decision in favor of doing more research and analysis.
I’m starting to learn this is a form of procrastination in disguise.
So how do we deal with this? That’s what I’ve been trying to learn and I turned to Ray Dalio’s Principles for advice.
(This is a great book, chock-full of wisdom and I aim to do a more in-depth post on it in the future to do it more justice.)
Here are my personal notes on what I learned 👇
Learn How to Make Decisions Effectively – (Principle 5.7) “Prioritize by weighing the value of additional information against the cost of not deciding.”
- All of your “must-dos” must be above the bar before you do your “like-to-dos.”
- There is a difference between what’s urgent and important (see the Eisenhower Method)
- Chances are you won’t have time to deal with the unimportant things, which is better than not having time to deal with the important things.
- Indeed, the Laws of Economics apply to many things in life. Here is the “Law” of opportunity cost in action. Since we don’t have unlimited time what we spend on Option B takes away the time we could potentially spend on Option A.
- Don’t mistake possibilities for probabilities.
- Anything is possible. It’s the probabilities that matter. Everything must be weighed in terms of its likelihood and prioritized. People who can accurately sort probabilities from possibilities are generally strong at “practical thinking”; they’re the opposite of the “philosopher” types who tend to get lost in clouds of possibilities.
- On point from Gladwell’s Blink – (on too much information) – information inundation/tsunami – can ironically be detrimental. Again, the Laws of Economics apply here. Too much of a good thing becomes bad. There are marginal units of value but the value drops off after a certain point (a.k.a. the Law of Diminishing Returns/Utility). Just like lobster tastes good. But keep stuffing it down your throat and you will soon feel like vomiting.
- Great example from the book about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Quote on point:
At Pearl Harbor, the American intelligence community was taken completely by surprise by the Japanese military. But as Wohlstetter points out, that wasn’t because the American military didn’t know enough about Japan’s intentions. On the contrary, it knew an enormous amount. The U.S. military had, in fact, broken many of the key Japanese codes. They were reading the Japanese military’s mail. And that, she argues, was the problem. The military’s analysts were overwhelmed with information. They would come in in the morning and there would be a stack of reports in their in-boxes a foot high. They couldn’t see the forest for the trees.