Getting organized in the Google Era


We are drowning in information.

The Library of Congress is huge (see picture above).  Did you know it took over 200 years to accumulate all the written material to fill the Library of Congress?

The information material created in just the last 10 years on the internet dwarfs that amount…there’s a lot of material coming out all the time and we’re not setup to be able to process or handle that much information.

I had the opportunity to go to an interesting event this afternoon – Douglas Merrill, the author of Getting Organized in the Google Era and the former CIO of Google presented a summary of his book and his thoughts on what it takes to get organized in the world we live in today.

He covered a lot of interesting ideas ranging from the physiological make-up of the brain (he has a PhD in pyschology), to how people process things they need to do all the way down to recommending some specific tools and ideas.

He spent quite a bit of time on how people think and what our shortcomings are. 

  • Your brain is amazing and has a huge amount of processing power…but
  • Your brain isn’t wired to store data in a linear way
  • Your brain isn’t very good at jumping between short term memory and long term memory, which is why…
  • We aren’t any good / it isn’t possible to multi-task

Because of all that and because you can only store 5 to 9 things in your short term memory at any given time, it’s critical that you get the important stuff out of your head and into a system that allows you to search for it and find it easily (instead of relying on memory).

He also covered some quick tips on tools that can help you with that process.  He’s a big fan of gmail and Google Calendar – both of which were developed internally at Google to help the Google employees be more effective.

Overall he’s a fascinating guy with an interesting life story – it’s pretty rarefied air to be the CIO of the most important technology company of all time.  Despite that (or maybe because of it) he came across as very down to earth and approachable.

I haven’t had a chance to read the book yet – which goes into a lot more detail and covers a lot more tools and how to ideas, but it looks like a great resource.  The event was sponsored by Thinking Bigger and you can see a brief write-up of it at their site:  Review of Getting Organized in the Google Era.

What productivity / organizational books have you read lately?  Anything that’s working well for you?  Share your thoughts below – or let me know if you were at the event as well!

Shawn Kinkade  Kansas City Business Coach