Information overload can refer to the challenges faced with processing increasing amounts of data in research or communication. Social networks and email are common areas where it can be difficult to keep up with the amount of incoming information.

In this presentation (see video above) by Clay Shirky, he explores the concept and argues that dealing with information overload is a matter of rethinking how we filter information. The way we filtered information in the past decade or the past century cannot be applied to the continuing increase in information that many people need to deal or interact with on a daily basis.

Cory Doctorow offers an alternative approach in this article, “I’ve concluded that the real secret to beating information overload isn’t better filters: it’s cultivating a “probabilistic” frame of mind.” While not as drastic as declaring email bankruptcy, Doctorow recommends not worrying about checking up on everything all the time. That important article, tweet or message that you may miss, will still make its way back to you if it truly is that important.

If prefer the filter approach, a Google or Lifehacker search for email tips will probably turn up some potential ideas.