Just-in-time information

Ours is an age of information abundance. Even if one builds the skill of filtering out the good stuff, the quantity is still massive.

How does one deal with this overload?

In post-war Japan, Sakichi Toyoda instituted the Just-in-Time production philosophy and applied it to the Toyota production line. It required suppliers to deliver parts just as they were needed to be assembled. By doing so, Toyota freed itself from inventory, and saved the costs and other overheads associated with managing it.

However, there are certain conditions under which this was possible. One of them was that Japan was a small country, where quick and reliable transportation was not a challenge. In more expansive countries, factories have inventory as a means to buffer against uncertainty. They follow a just-in-case approach.

In the past, we dealt with information in a just-in-case manner. We bought encyclopedias, collected stamps and cut out newspaper articles, just in case we needed to refer to them. In the last two decades though, good information has become more accessible. What was elusive earlier, is now readily available at our fingertips. And this enables us to adopt to a just-in-time approach.

Therefore our habits ought to change accordingly. It helps to ask if the next book, the next article or the next podcast episode you consume is in line with whatever is the most compelling goal is at this point.

In this manner, that nugget of information you found last week can be immediately integrated into your life, rather than gather dust in your mental warehouse until it disappears.

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