Bill Gates, Microsoft’s founder, who helped create information overload, has his own strategy for coping. When he ran Microsoft, he always scheduled “Think Week.” Twice a year, for seven days, he spent time alone in a secluded cabin in the Pacific Northwest. “Staying focused is one issue: that’s the problem of information overload. The other problem is information underload. Being flooded with information doesn’t mean we have the right information or that we’re in touch with the right people,” Gates said.36
Gates had to cut himself off from technology to think about the future of technology. It was in his cabin, perhaps in his study there with a portrait of Victor Hugo, a refrigerator filled with Diet Orange Crush and Diet Coke, and a bookshelf lined with classic literature, that Gates wrote in 1995 The Internet Tidal Wave, which led to the creation of Microsoft’s Internet browser, which crushed Netscape’s browser.37
Since he left the company to work fulltime at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he no longer needs “Think Week,” because he has more time for reading and research.38 Anyone can see what he is reading and doing, and where he is traveling on his personal website, www.thegatesnotes.com/personal. But “Think Week” still lives on at Microsoft. Gates says the company’s top 50 “engineering thinkers” have participated in “Think Week” for several years.