Tricking yourself out of information overload

According to Oliver Burkeman, informational overload is “suffused with irrationality”: 

There are millions of information sources we could, in theory, keep up with, but only a few that we tell ourselves we must – and the distinction’s pretty arbitrary. I try to answer all personal emails, but I don’t worry about answering all personal Twitter messages. 

The way to deal with our irrational, modern malady may be to make choices and use tools that trick us into thinking we are in control: 

When Google launched Priority Inbox, which sifts email into “important” and “everything else”, I was sceptical: prioritisation systems mainly involve pointlessly reordering your to-do list. But friends who swear by it don’t really use it to prioritise: they use it as a guiltless way to ignore the non-important emails entirely, and thus feel more in command.

….I capture a page in the note-taking application Evernote, label it with the tag “to read” and file it away. Frequently, I never read it. But it works: the information feels tamed. The tug is gone. I’m in control, so I’m happy.

Funnily enough, Instapaper fills this role for me right now and I feel terrible about it.

I used to love Instapaper – the simplicity of the layout, the focus on reading longer form pieces. Now I just throw everything in there that I think I should read, but in reality I never get round to reading it much. Now it feels like a grim box where I have locked away all of my procrastination and I never really fancy opening it much. 

Team GB Cycling and the magic of marginal gains


Over the summer I developed a bit of an obsession with Team GB Cycling, like a lot of people.

How did they become so successful? So successful that the game for a lot of the other athletes became how to stop Team GB winning, the spiteful whelps

Dave Brailsford cuts an interesting figure as a leader and is a good place to start trying to answer that question. Look at his obsession with detail, but resistance to becoming a micromanager.  His philosophy was – and is –  ask: “how do we get people to be the best that they can be?”, and then apply the answer to cycling.

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Myth-busting brand communications


McDonald’s Canada is being transparent. That is to say it is going out and answering even seemingly awkward questions as directly as it can. 

The results are disarming, even charming at times.

Whether it is explaining how French Fries are made or how photos of Big Macs in ads differ from the actual product

According to Fast Co-Create

Since the campaign began, McDonald’s Canada has fielded more than 14,000 questions and responded with text on the website, photos, and the YouTube videos, which have earned millions of views. There are currently 7,100 questions and answers live on the site.

When there are lots of myths around a big brand, it’s a very good idea to go and bust as many of them as you can…