7 Tips for Fighting Information Overload (Plus: Competition Winners)

Do you feel like this when you see your inbox?

[Watch the video first, but this is what caused it]

Here are 7 tips for avoiding information overload from Ron Geraci:

1. Spot the signs. Feel alone even as you communicate with people all day? That’s a signal technology is dominating your life.

2. Take baby steps. Try being inaccessible for short spurts to see what happens. The world probably won’t implode.

3. Repeat these four words: “I have a choice.” People who say, “My boss wants me to be reachable after 8 p.m.” are likely exaggerating the control others have over them.

4. Set limits. Rein in office e-mail and instant message traffic. Who truly needs 35 daily FYIs on the Henderson case?…

5. Give clear instructions. Try an e-mail signature that reads “I answer e-mail at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. If you need a quicker response, please call.”

6. Make a task list. If you’re interrupted, you’ll get back to work faster if you have one.

7. Stick to a schedule. Handle recreational Web surfing and e-mail at set times. Dipping in and out is classic self-interruption.

Related posts:

The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction)

The Not-To-Do List: 9 Habits to Stop Now

How Scoble Reads 622 RSS Feeds Each Morning

How to Do The Impossible: Create a Paperless Life, Never Check Voicemail Again, Never Return Another Phone Call…


Odds and Ends: Competition Winners

For the weekend retirement test-drive competition (lifestyle redesign in 48 hours), the grand-prize winner was working mom Michelle, and the runner-up was triathlete and student Daley. Three cases of books and other goodies are off to you as soon as we receive your addresses — check your inbox!

For the Learn to Eat Chocolate with Willie Wonka competition, there is great news all around. I’ve reposted the winning entries for chocolate below the announcements.

First off, Christine won the first Joseph Schmidt valentine case because she used Grover, and I am a Grover FANATIC (Animal is still my favorite, though), among other reasons. Evan, who many of you thought should win, got runner-up and my remaining personal supply of Scharffen Berger gourmet chocolates. Tom at Scharffen Berger was also cool enough to volunteer to send chocolates to Jen and Tay.

LizLovely pulled a surprise move and sent out this e-mail after telling me of their intentions:

“We were so overwhelmed by your funny responses and heartfelt enthusiasm that we decided to send all of you who gave reasons a couple of cookies! We’re a tiny bootstrap operation in Vermont who is still struggling to pay the bills, so please forgive us for not being able to send overnight, but we’ll get them out ASAP via first-class mail 🙂 Please send us your addresses, and a very happy Valentine’s Day from us and Tim!”

How cool is that? These guys should be supported, so grab something from their site, and please don’t ask for more freebies, as their staff of five is already pulling overtime just to make their little venture turn into a big success.

The best part? I didn’t even know their stuff was vegan! I loved the ginger cookies and only found out about the vegan part after readers commented about it. That is some baking magic.

Have a yummy and lovely Valentine’s Day 🙂

Here are the chocolate winners:


Hi Tim,

I’m a fan of your book and blog. So inspired, in fact, I quit my day job in October and went full-time in my studio. I want that chocolate! Reasons why are these:

1)Two weeks after quitting my day job I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I’m doing battle (and winning!) with the best of Western and Eastern medicine. I need those antioxidents, man!

2)I’m a young single woman and I’ll be spending my Valentine’s Day morning getting radiation treatment and meeting with my oncologist about side effects.

3)If I’m not having sex this Valentine’s Day, at least I need to be having chocolate. (Like you, Tim, I eat a little dark choc every night as well, actually…so even if I don’t win, I’ll eat some chocolate)

By the way, congrats! 4HWW is totally NOW and sexy. Glad Cosmo is on board. i am sure that means so much. *grin*

If you want to verify my (sob)story, I’m writing a blog on it here:


Thanks, Tim.



Hey Tim,

I am just getting to read your chocolate posting now and probably missed the deadline, but here are my reasons why:

– I had a dream about you this weekend (really) and since you skipped the flowers I guess a basket of chocolate will do

– I’m going to the Dominican Republic this weekend to visit my grandma. Since she, well, can’t really chew – truffles would be a great thing to share with her

– I work at Sesame Street and I promise to send you a picture with Grover and the basket of chocolate 🙂


Evan Drake

For the Joseph Schmidt Valentine package:

* My girlfriend will melt. She is a chocolate addict.

* This is much better than the pathetic Belgian chocolate I was planning to give her.

* The chances of me getting laid are higher than the percentage of cacao in these truffles.

Make a brother happy.




Jennifer Bingham-Heart

Hi Tim,

First off I have to say I love your mind, body and soul. You seem really connected to life and that is rare in the world, Kudos and Yummm 😉 Thanks for all your inspiration so all of us can become more whole and less addicted to distraction. (Ha-ha I said dicted!)

BTW- Heart IS my last name and there is a story behind it. It doesn’t come from my Mother’s wish for her daughter to be asked for years-Did your name come from the TV show Hart to Hart?

On to the list-

* Daddy, I want a chocolate box now! I want the whole world- Give it to me NOW!

* You must give ME the chocolate as it is your duty as a single man to give to a single woman. Consequences for insubordination are being hand cuffed, flogged and hot chocolate.

* Because chocolate is a substitute for not yet having a special someone to make love to. And another fun fact- Chocolate contains phenethylamine, a nutrient that enhances mood and is the chemical we produce in our brains when we fall in love.

How do you like them apples?!!

Happy Valentines Day!

Love and Hugs,



The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration.)

34 Replies to “7 Tips for Fighting Information Overload (Plus: Competition Winners)”

  1. Hi everyone!

    This is Liz and Dan, co-founders of Liz Lovely. Just wanted to thank you all for the feedback and kind words over the last couple days. We’ve been overwhelmed with your encouragement and support, and it just reinforces that we’re on the right track.

    Congratulations to all the winners, and happy Valentine’s Day!

    –Liz and Dan Holtz

  2. Hiya smart-inspiring-co-creator-of-the-New-World,

    Thnx for being there and doing what you’re doing.

    It helps.

    Keep up the Good Love on this great Day of many,


  3. Hi Tim,

    1) Awesome book and blog. As the business columnist for Indiana University I have promoted your book many times and personally got 15 friends to buy it. Get this, I got a professor to incorporate your book into his curriculum!

    2) I need your help. I am in a battle with the IU administration over my proposal to a university wide financial planning : http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=48913&comview=1.

    I need a big time endorsement from someone like yourself. Read it, if you agree with it we would love your endorsement. This has turned into a student movement here and we want to get it pushed through.

    HINT: A blog post about it would be very helpful!

    Either way, I love your stuff, I incorporate it every day and it has been a great influence in my life. Respect and thanks for everything.

    David Weisburd

    P.S. Once in a while I see a critical comment that is almost always retarded and unfounded. Don’t let these idiots bring you down and if you choose to delete it I will not mind!

  4. A task list has been very helpful for me as well. And I like your recommendation to take baby steps: I’m not yet ready to check my e-mail once a week, but I have been taking short breaks so as not to get overloaded. I’ll just keep making those breaks longer and longer as time goes by.

  5. Hello Tim,

    just wanted to wish you a happy valentine’s day. I hope your day has been good!

    As I want to make sure that you’re not “only” getting man-crushes – even if that sounds terrific and fantatic in every way – I’m sending a “I think you’re really cool and interesting, keep up the good work and take care!!!”-crush-hug thing instead:)

    You would of course get a real hug instead, but as I find it improbable that you’re in Sweden at the moment, that will have to wait. Anyway, I think you get the point!

    All the best, Isabelle


    Thank you, Isabelle! Are you Swedish? Swedish and Norwegian girls make me weak in the knees 🙂

    Happy Valentine’s Day,


  6. @David

    I totally agree that a class in financial literacy should be made part of the core curriculum. Feel free to quote that if it helps. What good is educating students and putting them in a world that requires financial literacy if they’re not prepared? FYI, your link includes a period and thus turns up as an error. Here it is for others:



    Happy Valentine’s Day! 🙂


  7. Tim,

    My question of the hour is the following:

    You stated in a past interview that you don’t work from home. I can understand this completely, but I am a bit confused and curious where do you get your stuff done when you are at home? Do you recommend a local cafe, i.e. starbucks?

    I think this has never been mentioned, I was always baffled as to what is your “office” when home.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this.


    Jose Castro-Frenzel


    Hi Jose,

    If I have to get things done at home, like paperwork, filing, etc., or just some form of work, I have a bedroom upstairs that I converted into an office. All of my business books (visual cues that put me in work mindset) are limited to this room as well.

    Hope that helps,


  8. OK, I’m reading the book. I realize that this is another one of ‘those’ emails not to answer, but I have to disagree with the outsourcing to India assistant stuff. When I hear someone from India named “Harry” or “Betty” respond to my call, I hang up. I think I’ll try Canada. As for the rest…THANK GOD FOR THIS BOOK!!!! I announced to my employees that they had to take up the slack and I was going home to get a tan! Thank you!

  9. Hi Tim,

    I’ve got a terrific interview of you by Steve Harrison. Toward the end of the CD, you promise his audience an audio of another interview (by Jack Canfield)if they purchase five or more copies of your book from BN.com.

    I’ve twice sent the receipt showing my purchase of five books and haven’t received the audio or any reply from you. I’ve repeatedly checked the accuracy of your email address in my ‘sent’ box, so I know that’s not the problem.

    I’m going to have to send four of these copies back to BN.com if I don’t get the audio. I’m sure you can understand that. However, I’d much prefer to get the audio I was promised and give my extra copies of your book out to people who I think would enjoy them. Thanks!


  10. Thanks for the reply Tim, I appreciate you helping out. Oh BTW, i just joined the forum, there are some really helpful peeps on there. Thanks

    Signing out From NYC,

    Jose Castro-Frenzel

  11. I have not decided if the information you have given me is counter productive or not. Its like telling someone “don’t think about your breathing” and instantly they start thinking about every breath they are taking.

    What im talking about is my time, business situation, and my personal life. I think my personal life has started to loose to my business life. Now I spend more time thinking about ways to improve my situation that i realize im spending to much time.

    I believe, however, I will get it at some point. Now more than ever I find myself always thinking, planning and pondering what I can do next. I guess not everything works for everyone but thats no excuse to give up!

    Nice post, one from your book that has helped me out greatly put your daily to-do list on a 1/4th piece of paper. Stick to it and thats it. Make it your goal to make that list shorter every day. Find ways to remove things from the list, find out if everything on the list is really useful or if there is away to automate or alleviate.

    Long post…

  12. Hey Tim!

    Hilarious video. LOL, I’ll bet he jumped six and nine-tenth inches! <– guess where that quote’s from?

    I’m making my way through your book, and there was a part in there refering to financing an expensive car. I’ve been toying with the idea of buying a car on credit card. However, I’m scared that if I kept buying stuff on credit or financed, what’ll happen when I die with huge unpaid balances?

    You’re my inspiration!

    Dr J

  13. @john

    seems you and I have same taste in wp themes. Oh well, I plan to do some cosmetic upgrades soon to my stock theme.

    Regarding your concern about spending too much time trying to save time; what worked for me was to give it some time. For me, it took me about 72 hours to decide on a sustainable GTD system. Those 3 days were terribly unproductive. If my boss found out I wasted 3 work days fiddling with outlook and notepads… I dunno..he’d boot me in the ass.

    But it was time well spent. I now have a system I trust and use all the time and have been for about 6 months. I can’t say how long I’ll stick with it, but I can say that without my GTD system, I’m lost. Same goes for all habit/behavior altering exercises. You will have to take a step backwards before going forward.

  14. Tim,

    OK, make me a believer. I have lost a business and everything that I ever had to divorce. I have borderline horrible credit because of the bankruptcy following said divorce and have absoluetly no savings. I make 90k but cannot get a credit card with a limited over $1000. I was forced to move back in with my parents (at 36 years old) and have just learned that my fiance’ and I are expecting our fourth child (she has two of her own and I have a son of my own). I am a Black man in desperate need of adequate housing and residual income (and finding it impossible to find both) to give my family the life they deserve. Make me a believer when there is so little left to believe in. Thank you.

  15. Tim –

    I spent most of last year waiting on a heart transplant, which I received on 10/26/07 (my wife’s birthday, no less). While I was home waiting on the call, I read your book and was inspired to find some sort of business that I could create and run from my sickbed if need be. I ended up inventing a new logic puzzle game (Trizm Puzzles), similar to Sudoku, but using triangles and vibrant colors instead of drab, black and white squares. I have published a book and setup a website to promote the puzzle. I plan on earmarking 50% of any profits I make on the puzzle company for charitable causes primarily related to heart failure, sarcoidosis, transplants, and organ donation. I would love to tell you my whole story some time, it is fairly interesting (it will become much more interesting if Trizm’s become as popular as Sudoku!)


  16. *** Could we do a USER SURVEY of CRM’s? ***

    Hi Tim,

    (yes I am trying to reduce the info! but with what remains…) I think CRM’s and project management software is important for any entrepreneur with multiple projects or employees. I’ve tried a bunch I’m not happy with. Just going to test Basecamp and Highrise now. I searched your blog for related terms and didn’t find anything.

    Remember the survey on OUTSOURCING SERVICES you did? It sucked! 😉 If you do one for contact managers we need a thumbs up/down vote… not just thumbs up! Maybe we could redo that one too while we’re at it.

    Thanks Tim!


    I just bought a fresh copy of the book (for PBJ) and i’m having many “repiphanies” and getting even more out of it than when I first read it. My wife and I decided that we are going to start the traveling lifestyle end of March. …and we have a 5 month old boy! So I’m doing a hardcore revamp of my online businesses to get them more automated and getting some better quality virtual help. Will I see you at SXSW? I’m 87% sure I’m going.

  17. Hi Tim!

    Its always good to find new ways to beat Information Overload… cutting the RSS feed seems to be the only way!

    Anyway is there a reason why you have two themes in every post? Why not just have two posts?

    I like some of your posts, enough to want to del.icio.us them, but generally dont as the second half was not informative enough..

    MAybe its for us to read something slightly different after your post… that qould be quite clever!


    This is something I’ve been fighting with and will poll all readers soon. I guess I feel that I don’t want to clutter people’s RSS or e-mail with separate posts just to make announcements, so I append them at the end of posts (a la “(Plus: Competition Winners)”). Thank you for reminding me to poll everyone!


  18. Tim,

    Just wanted to says thanks…I did a Liz Lovely painting (see link above) and thanks to you post today;

    Wonderful good things ….I appreciate the introduction.

    All best,


  19. Tim said:


    Thank you, Isabelle! Are you Swedish? Swedish and Norwegian girls make me weak in the knees 🙂

    Happy Valentine’s Day,


    My response:

    Damnit! Look here you need to get over your love of Norwegian and Swedish girls. But just in case you can’t…I’m a Norwegian girl dipped in Chocolate… and blond wigs are on sale at Costco. 🙂 LOL Okay, I need get my butt off the internet. I hope you find your Norwegian/Swedish princess. BTW, I love your site lots of gems of information hidden in the old posts. Later

  20. Tim,

    Do you know of a GOOD free or low cost software (online or downloadable) that can convert website text to MP3 files? It is a very time efficient way to learn from the internet and I have not found a software that has decent quality voice and no micro limit to the size of the text to be converted.

    Thank you in advance for your expertise.