Information Overload? How To Choose What To Read In 21st Century

Choose what to read with different source of informaton

“Umm… what the heck is this page talking about?”

“Man, this is just useless.”

Have these thoughts ever popped up in your mind when you finished reading the first result you clicked on Google? You are having questions that you want to solve without knowing how, so you type the question into the Google search box. Then you start spending 3-5 minutes reading through the first result (or the top results) Google suggests you. After going through all these, you realize those sources are nothing but useless information. And they have wasted tons of your time.

Or you want to start reading a new book, but you don’t know how to choose one. All of the reviews and ratings online are having both good and bad sayings. Should you target the related one with the best rating and give it a try to find out by yourself? Choosing what to read becomes a crucial dilemma for us.

(FYI this article is not discussing the situation of fictions.)

How To Find What To Read

Don’t: Trust The First Thing You See

With well-developed online marketing strategies, marketers can use different approaches to attract you to read their content or buy their products. The first result you see in Google may not be the best answer you can find. The ratings of books on Goodreads or may not reflect the real quality of books — marketers can tweak some details to make it the way you see it.

However, reading through articles and books can be time-consuming. If you constantly read those with bad qualities, it will waste lots of your time. A post may costs you 3 minutes to read, but 10 posts can cost you 30 minutes! So now the question comes to: How do I find those quality ones?

Do: Find Few Trustworthy Sources

First, your time may be wasted on some useless websites with crappy typesettings and messy advertisements disturbing your reading. Probably something like this:

(It was on the first result page)

But among them all, there must be some websites that you find extremely useful, which can answer your questions thoroughly. (It may or may not be the top results on Google.) Stick to those websites and read through all of the useful articles back and forth, instead of keep searching for endless new sites and hoping you land on a better one. (Unless they don’t cover the question you’re searching for)

Sometimes the source you find are personal websites, and they recommend the books they’ve read to help their followers. Read them too. Or you can also email them for recommendations. Simply saying, you find the best and you learn from the best. Especially when you’re targeting a specific area to learn, finding the best source you can in that niche is the right way.

For example, you want to learn about self-improvement. Then you stumble upon James Clear’s blog, which covers all the topics from concentration, time management to healthy eating. You find it useful, then just read them all. Make it as your ultimate guide.

As Neil Soni said in Made You Think Podcast (#14), reading a good book that costs you 20 bucks may give you an insight that makes you thousands more. To enhance the chances of discovering insightful ones, you can see the recommendations from those people you trust or admire. For instance, Derek Sivers has a collection of recommended books with ratings and notes for his readers.

How To Choose What To Read

After finding out good sources you can trust, there can be hundreds of books available. But not every single one of them is related to your questions, so what you need to learn is to filter out the ones you need. And this brings us to the principle of Just in time vs. Just in case.

Don’t: Just In Case

Just In Case means this piece of information is not currently useful for you. You read it in case it may come in handy someday. I’m not saying that this type of information is bad for you or is strictly prohibited to read, but you may indulge in this endless information that will not solve your problems. (Again, you need to be mindful about how you spend your time on.)

Do: Just In Time

Comparing to Just In Case, Just In Time refers to the information that solves the problems you are facing. Instead of browsing through tons of information online that seems interesting, you know what is the problem you are encountering now and find the type of information you need. Having this principle — read for just in time — in mind is similar to having a map when you are lost in a city. It guides you. There are lots of interesting distractions, but you know what you need.

Final Thoughts

In the 21st century, we tend to do stuff in a visible way to convince ourselves that we are productive. But ask yourself these: Am I being productive or just being busy? Does reading this book or article worthy? Or am I just reading for the sake of reading?

Reading is a good habit, but the key to having a good read is to choose the right ones to read.

TL;DR? Here Is The Takeaway

  1. Choose trustworthy sources to read, and read it thoroughly
  2. Read for Just In Time — solve your current problems