Organizing Tip: How to Organize a Cascade of Information

Have you ever been the recipient of a large amount of information in a short period of time? Image of a waterfall, photography by R. Isip

Wondering how to organize and make sense of all the new info?

Today’s post helps you to organize information so you can take appropriate action.

What’s a cascade of information? It is simply a large amount of actionable information that is given out quickly in a short amount of time. This cascade could happen, say when a supervisor hurriedly gives a colleague a list of tasks or to-dos before running off to a meeting, or a professor or teacher quickly going through an assignment at the end of a class. This exchange of information is not always equal as the receiver of information is often caught off guard!

Here are some tips to help you catch and process information:

Capture information.

Instead of fighting an onslaught of information, simply go with the flow and capture information as it comes. You can always review and analyze information later. Collect information using a single method: use a pen or paper to jot down information or type up notes on your computer or take voice notes or recordings on a mobile device. Write/speak/draw phrases, ideas, pictures, images anything to help recall the information that is given to you.

Review information.

Review your notes as soon as possible post-information collection. Sometimes what seems like a confusing mess of information at first becomes crystal clear when you take a moment to look it over on paper or screen or listen to it again. Quickly review your notes and jot down any other details or questions that first came to mind as information was being presented to you. Eliminate or streamline redundant information and facts.

Rank information.

Now it’s time to organize the information given to you. Go through each of the items or tasks and prioritize them. What items are high priority/low priority? Make a notation next to each item with the letter “P” and a number starting with P1 for the most important item to tackle, followed by P2, P3, and so on.

Next, rank items according to the following:

Work. These are straightforward tasks you can start working on immediately. Mark the item with a “W.”

Question. Do you have a question about an item or need to ask someone for more details? Mark the item with a “Q.”

Delegate. Can the item be delegated to someone else? Mark the item with a “D.”

Rewrite information.

While some may view this as extra work, there’s something to be said about taking a few moments to write out new notes. A second note-writing session may help clarify thoughts or ideas; you might just have an “aha” moment and figure out what someone was trying to explain or describe to you.

List items by their priority levels “P” and then tackle items via their secondary ranking system, “D,” “Q,” and “W,” respectively. Begin by delegating work to others, followed by making inquiries regarding the questions you have via phone, email, etc.

Now that you’ve got the rest of the items out-of-the-way, you can sit down and focus on straightforward tasks.

How about you? How do you handle or deal with an onslaught of information that is given to you in one big bundle in a short period of time? Leave a comment below and join the conversation!

Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.