Information overload is a controversial subject, circa 2017. While some statistics show that most people don’t feel it to be a problem in their life, even preferring the plethora of information available at their fingertips; nearly every modern study shows those people are probably lying to themselves.
I know I’ve suffered at the hands of information anxiety for several of the previous years, as my personal and work life adapted itself to the Internet of things (IoT).
We now have more quality information available to us at the click of a mouse than our parents and grandparents could have ever dreamed of when they were growing up. Sadly, there’s also ten times the junk info keeping us from the stuff that actually makes us smarter. This can make accomplishing your goals (dreams) a real problem if you haven’t yet adopted an effective content filter for use in all facets of your life.
Here’s 5 ways you can put the brakes on information overload before it destroys your personal and professional life:
1. Avoid news and gossip sites (at all cost!)
Including all those junk Zerg.net feeds talking about why certain celebrities can’t get hired now, or “moments that made us change the way we feel about X.” It’s really quite laughable how easy it is for all of us to get drawn into this sort of junk media. Watching the news isn’t much better for you, in my opinion, and in the opinions of many others.
What’s even more funny is this article on HuffPost talking about how following the news actually makes us dumber (ie., they’re a news site). I find news and gossip sent me into what used to be an unexplained depression. That is, until I found the culprit and eliminated it (news/gossip) from my life — mostly!
2. Avoid negative content of all types.
Once you realize you’ve clicked on anything negative, even with just slightly negative undertones, you need to click off or turn the page (some still read paper media, can’t say I’m one of them). This is much easier than it may seem. Even in front line customer service environments, you can still hire someone else to do the sorting and only bring the bad stuff that needs your immediate attention your way.
Hey, we can’t run from negativity forever, but by making the avoidance of negativity a personal standard you have for yourself, you can sure improve things a lot. There’s tons of ways to go about doing this.
3. Stick to what immediately concerns you and your business.
The “you” should also include your family, of course. Just avoid getting sucked into drama or listening to someone drone on about the news, or about how much they “hate” so-and-so, or (insert other people’s problems here).
There’s only so much you can take in and chances are if you’re here reading about how to curb your problems with information overload, you’re over capacity and need to look at all areas of your life where people are pushing junk info on you that you can do without.
4. Avoid the Internet as much as possible.
Especially social media!
Learn to go without and do things that don’t involve looking at a screen for long bouts. Especially in your downtime. Even if you’re real careful, there are so many pop ups and widgets on sites out there that can easily distract your brain long enough to get you absorbing info you either don’t need or don’t want altogether.
And, when you do go online, you have to be smart about your own weaknesses and learn ways to give yourself a kick when you start to go sideways into something.
I love using the Stay Focused extension on Chrome while I’m working — it’s a real life saver. It takes a while to configure it just right, but all you need to do is right click on the browser icon when you’re on a site you know is full of “brain drain” junk information and black list it. Then the app will warn you when you’ve been on your bad sites for too long. There are a ton of options though, for all the popular browsers.
5. Write down things that you’re curious about and reserve a large-ish slot for it once a week.
If you like to indulge in mindless info, gossip, news, and random Google searches for whatever pops into your head at any given time, you won’t be able to go cold turkey just yet. Instead, set out a block of time where anything goes, and nothing is off-limits. During this time you can read, listen, or watch whatever you want, but I recommend avoiding negativity and things that can otherwise make you depressed for any reason during this time.
After you recover from this hours or day long period of over-indulgence, don’t let yourself backtrack, for any reason. Otherwise, you’ll just get sucked right back in and all will be for naught.
What do you guys think?
Is information overload just a fad term that people who don’t use or even possess all of trillions of synapses the human brain develops leading into adulthood?
Or, do you feel you do take in too much junk information and the time for a change is long overdue in your life?
Main Image Credit: Dylan Roscover/Flickr