With such a profusion of information, it is not easy to make decisions.

What sets the 21 Century apart from all earlier centuries is that there is so much information, so much data ready to hand, with the click of a mouse or the press of a button. It has become almost impossible to say “I don’t know” without adding “But I can find out.”

This is a really challenging situation. With such an embarrassment of riches, where does one begin? Does one collect information omnivorously because it is there to collect?

At every turn there are things that people are telling you to read, to download, to listen to, to apply for. You can build your own radio set by buying the kit online; you can learn Japanese in three months from CDs; you can design your own clothes; you can be a teenage entrepreneur.

Also, of course, you can check out video games, watch the latest movies and TV serials, and download music. And always, when in doubt, you can do a web search!

But a web search can’t tell you what you really want to know which is, what is it that you really want to know? And what for?

The art of decision making

Eliminating inessentials is the key to good decision-making. In order to make a decision, you need data. But what data? Who? What? When? Why? How? No, one does not have to ask all the questions all the time. Pick the ones that will give you the information to make a decision. Go to the root of the matter, line up your data, and the decision will often be obvious. Logical thinking and decision-making demands that you cut through the clutter.

It’s tough to step away from this dizzy world and ask yourself what it is that you are looking for in life. Getting caught up in the clutter can enmesh you and pull you in different directions, exhausting both energy and enthusiasm. Advertising professionals know the powerful negatives of the clutter only too well. When an advertisement is caught in the clutter, there is no recall.

Too many images, too many words, an overdose of promises — all blur into a single meaningless swirl. Similar is the situation with the clutter of must-reads, must-dos and must-sees that peer pressure and modern lifestyles force on people. It erodes efficiency of thought and action. Overeating is never a good preparation for exercise!

It’s important to pause and remind oneself of where one is going, and what one needs to collect for the journey of life. No need to pack bulging suitcases full of stuff one may never need…and run the risk of leaving essentials behind.

The author is a well-known science writer.