Dealing With Information Overload
Something has been on my mind. So much so that i decided to sit down and write about it. But first I did some research (reference links below). The topic centers around information overload. For some time now, I've felt overwhelmed with information. Too much, too many, too everywhere, too all the time. Even before I did some cursory research on the topic I knew that too much information isn't a good thing for optimum cognitive health.
It's reassuring to learn that information overload really is a thing. To know that I'm not alone to feel this way, or that I might be the problem. Researchers have done many studies to understand how the brain works. Results have shown that the brain, as a form of self-preservation, will make a habit the most basic of decisions to process. And of any new information to process, there is a finite amount of information it can take in, and once it hits its limit, that's it.
What has me so perplexed is what to do about it. I know I can't change the information from exisiting, so how can I change how it impacts my life? How do I change my feeling of resignation, to empowerment?
For the most part I don't have a feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out). That saves me a lot in the social media department. I don't spend hours scrolling the feeds for fear of what is being posted when I'm not online. Where I do get into trouble is retaining sources of information. Bookmark links, electrionic newsletter emails, magazine articles that I tear from issues and scan for reference later, and finally, everthing you can find simply at the fingertips of your smart phone.
Here is a test: I dare you to type in "blogging" into Pinterest and see the thousands of results that come up. Seriously? Thousands of links all claiming to have the most "unique" or "must see" information about blogging? Everyone can't be THE BEST.
And that is where my feelings of overwhlem, uncertaintly and a snarky bit of cycism really kick in. If everyone claims to be the very same thing, it makes me not want to take my time to try to figure out who is really is!
Thankfully I already do a lot of the things the experts recommend to deal with infomation overload. Some of these things include: all notifications are turned off on my phone; I don't leave my email open during focused work sessions; a don't multi-task; and I organize my day around when I will be the most mentally focused (which for me is between 3 and 7 p.m.)
Things I am going to work on continue to be limiting the sources of information that come into my life. Translation: less magaizines, fewer web subscriptions, focused and structured social media surfing, and priorizing the sourcing of information for a topic I'm needing to learn more about.
As I wrote in the beginning of this blog post, I might not be able to control how much STUFF (information, choices, data, potential decisions exist in the world) but I can control how I interact with all that STUFF. Structure and self-discipline, combined with a robust filter of what is not worth my time or mental energy will continue to be my best defenses against my problems with information overload.