How do you deal with information overload?

And it started to make sense, in a Tyler sort of way. No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.

~Fight Club

I can feel it happening again, that creeping feeling of life starting to crumble a little bit. Nothing serious, just little things being overlooked. I forget to pay a bill. I have to cancel lunch with a friend. I’m getting less sleep.

I started a new project a couple weeks ago and we’re pushing hard for an approaching deadline. I can’t drop everything to work on this new project, but I’ve dropped as much as I can, and now I’m starting to let little parts of life slip through the cracks. I don’t like the way it feels. Rationally, I believe this to be the right thing to do right now, but it stresses me out. I’ve been through this before, and it was worth it then, and it’ll be worth it now, regardless of the outcome. The expected value of what I’m working on is very high, so the risk is worth it. Still, this stress annoys me.

The bigger problem beyond the fallout from letting things slide for weeks at a time is that the stress of all the little things piling up starts to impede my mental progress. It’s hard enough to buckle down and write code for eight hours straight, but it’s brutal when you’ve got 300 emails in your inbox, the dishes are piling up in the sink, you haven’t paid the bills yet this month, and you’ve got eight missed calls on your phone. I’ve developed some mental resistance and some discipline about shutting out distractions, but it’s still hard.

I know that it can’t be completely solved by a better todo list or time management method, but I welcome any tips. Lots of my readers are entrepreneurs who have done the crazy startup thing; how did you manage the process? Specifically, how did you manage the rest of your life, what little of it there was?