Sorting eases information indigestion

September 29th, 2009

The provocative headline caught my eye: Management Consulting: Help or Hazard? Only minutes into the blog, my brain disengaged.  


Not because the writer disparaged the entire industry in the second sentence. And not because he plugged his own book in the sixth sentence.

What turned me off came next: Examples of missteps at Levi Strauss and AT&T prior to 1994. A string of bullet points from a book published 11 years ago.  A nod to a Peter Drucker book dating to 1993. Implications that work completed more than a decade ago was the downfall of two prominent brands. Without fresh data I wasn’t convinced.

I scanned the entire post – all 3,043 words! In 60 seconds I went from being lured by the headline to being aggravated by stale information. With all that text looming on the screen my brain went into sorting mode. Where were timely references? The synapses failed to fire upon information I found insufficient to support the headline.

When faced with information overload, our brain struggles to find meaning. The diagram here shows one way I conquer information overload. Everything gets sorted into categories to establish their relevance to my personal preferences. I tend to think like a journalist:

  • Logistics (what is happening)
  • Benefits (how will this help me)
  • $$$ (how much does it cost)
  • Timing (when is/was this happening)
  • Sources (what makes this credible)
  • Values (why does this matter to me)

Sorting is the only way I can begin to digest the two daily newspapers, weekly and monthly magazines and countless blogs I monitor to stay on top of issues important to my clients and my business. If a story contains a nugget or two within those categories, I’m far more likely to retain the intended messages.

I’m curious to learn how others boost their message recall.  What categories of information hold your interest?

Posted September 29th, 2009

Author: Categories: Message Development Tags:
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