04/18/2014 09:48 am ET Updated Jun 18, 2014

Suffering From Information Overload?

Recently I met with the global head of sales effectiveness for well known Fortune 500 Company. During the meeting I proudly presented my book, Reignite - How to Rekindle Your Passion for Selling. Because this company was rolling out a new sales methodology, I felt my book would be relevant to helping the organization make it work.

As he looked at my book, he mentioned that this is the third book he had received from authors this week. But he also added, "I will read this one" as he rolled his eyes. I knew instantly that my book would hit his credenza and start collecting dust.

We all know time is a critical commodity. If we are not careful and use it wisely, we will waste it on the vast amount of information coming at us daily. Although I feel strongly that there would have been significant value for his company regarding my concepts and ideas in the book, this executive only has so much time at his disposal and must have a system of what is critical and what is not to ensure he maintains his effectiveness.

With so many white papers, magazines, studies, business books, blogs from unknown so called experts, Twitter and newspapers, the question is how much of what we read in this information age brings true value on insight? If you come to my office, you will see a library of business books that I have read. Some have been excellent but many, not so good and a waste of time. In essence, I have read a lot of junk to get a nugget of value and I am much more careful of how I will invest my time in the future.

We are as a business community toiling in a world of information overload; this overload can also create undue stress as your reading list stacks up. The experts say the average retention rate after a classroom training session is less than 20 percent. What is the retention of what we read? Regardless, how can we ensure that the content we read is the most is critical? The answer is that without an overreaching strategy, we can't.

Everyone will employ their own strategy while some will just disregard all new insight as a fall back strategy.

Here are some ideas to ensure that we don't get bogged down on information overload:

- Standardize. What are the sources that have consistently provide you value? For example, one source for me is CSO Insights. This resource always has excellent insight and data regarding the world I live in everyday, sales productivity and sales effectiveness. So when I see information from CSO Insights, I have learned to respect the content.
Linkedin is another source of information that I tend to spend time perusing since it seems tailored specifically to my likes and need to know.

- Word of mouth (especially books). I typically will ask people I respect on sources of books and information sources that have proven valuable for them. This is critical if the individual is seen as an expert or well read in a specific area of interest.

- Note how much of the information you read is really new and useful? Is it 80 percent or is it 20 percent? This provides you a guideline on how much you can filter out. You can implement a strategy of reading a few paragraphs before determining the information is new or useful.

There is a lot of valuable information available and numerous strategies to effectively leverage it. The only commodity we control is time and we must use it wisely. Make sure you have identified high impact information resources that you trust and brings value.

Question: How much time do you waste on information you can't use?

Question: What are some strategies to ensure you get only valuable information?