What Is Information Overload (And How to Overcome It)

We all know the feeling — you’re reading online articles on a certain topic while listening to podcasts or the news on TV, and then BOOM! You feel overwhelmed when you don’t know what to do next. You’re struggling with what’s often called “information overload” — all you can do is sit and think about everything you’ve just read or heard, making it hard to concentrate on any task. any service you can have on hand.

Wouldn’t it be ideal to be able to immediately move on to future projects that you need to work on, instead of sitting and mulling over all the information you’ve consumed? One thing is for sure: you will definitely get more done.

Well, there’s no need to let society’s inexhaustible wealth of information put you off. This article will help people understand exactly what information overload is and how to fix it.

No longer will you be stuck staring at your computer screen in frustration when you need to write that proposal for work, stop practicing so you can scroll through “just one more article” on your phone. your smarts or let social media distract you from your household chores!

So without further ado, here’s an overview of what to know about information overload and surefire ways to overcome it.

What is information overload?

Information overload is the act of learning so much that it stops you from doing it.

For example, maybe you have just read countless articles, white papers, and other sources of information on a certain topic. Or, you’ve listened to a lot of informative podcasts or radio shows and then feel completely immersed with different points of view and opinions.

The most common manifestation of information overload is “analytic paralysis,” where we get so much information about something that we can’t decide what is the best decision. There are simply too many choices made by all the information you just used, so you just think about all the different paths without moving forward.

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Information overload can make us so stressed that we decide not to make any decisions (a decision in and of itself). In addition, according to Psychology Today,

“Information overload can lead to genuine feelings of anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and helpless, and mental fatigue. It can also lead to cognitive problems like difficulty making decisions or making hasty (often bad) decisions.”

As a result, information overload can be extremely detrimental to our psychological health.

Why do we get information overload?

Information overload is more common today than ever, and there’s a reason for it: we have easier access to more information than we’ve ever had in human history.

Think about it. With the advent of the internet, most of us — and if you’re reading this online, you’re one of them — have access to almost any information in the world that’s now at our fingertips. .

We now have WiFi-connected laptops and high-tech smartphones that allow us to scroll through and actively view articles, opinionated statuses on social media, e-magazines, YouTube videos, etc. anytime and anywhere. We have unlimited and instant access to all of them. All this media consumption can affect the way we live.

Are you a Media Multitasker?

Also don’t forget all the ways we communicate multitasking, such as when we stream a show on Netflix in the background while updating our TikTok and Instagram feeds for the day. Or, when we read online articles while listening to podcasts.

According to Good RX, “multitasking communicators perform poorly on tasks that require concentration and filter out unnecessary information.”

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This can mean problems with productivity and maximizing work output in your professional life.

Don’t forget about passive consumption

What about all the information we use passively without even trying?

Yes, we are constantly consuming information as we read subway ads to work, listen to the radio and glance at billboards while driving, causing our TVs to play as “ambient noise” when we cook dinner, etc. We are still processing this information without even being aware of it.

What does all this mean? That we are all bombarded with information throughout the day.

As humans, we simply weren’t designed to handle this much input. We exacerbate the situation with the way we work today in the “information” economy. We’ve come to a point where we consider the act of obtaining and communicating information (through means such as email and social media sharing) the same as effective action.

This means that the more information we receive and the more we pass it on, the more we think we are done. Yes, there can be some jobs — like executive support — that’s true, but for most of us, it just overloads us with information and prevents us from actually working and acting.

How do we overcome information overload?

Excess information can cause us to have a mental breakdown. Yes, we’ve all heard the saying “information is power,” but that’s really not true.

Jim Kwik said,

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“Information is not power, it is potential power.”

The real power lies in the action you take with the information you use.

Information is potential power

To overcome information overload, you need to actually use this information. Don’t let all that stress and worry you — incorporate it into your daily life as you see fit.

That clever article you read in an industry publication recently? See how you can apply some of this knowledge to your next business strategy. Interesting political story you heard on the radio? Share it with your friends when the two of you are discussing current political events.

The key is to define well the amount of information you need for the current task. Then, once you have that information, you apply it to the task.

Do this for everything, whether it’s your projects at work, the hustle and bustle of life next door, do-it-yourself projects around the house, or other hobbies.

Yes, this method can mean that you will make mistakes from time to time. However, the feedback you get from making mistakes — more information — will help you move toward your goals more efficiently and quickly than trying to figure everything out before you start.

This practice of “learning as you go” will help you figure out what information you need to store and filter out for tasks.

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Technology can help

In addition to just finding information when you need it, Harvard Business Review also recommends using technology to hold information that you don’t need for an immediate task. They recommend “creating a Word or Google document in which you write down information that your brain doesn’t need to remember or store. In the early days of work, this is a smart way to offload overcrowding.”

Setting aside redundant information can give you the opportunity to sort and organize your information, identify what is needed immediately, and then use additional information later as needed.

How do you prevent information overload in the future?

Shoot, get ready, aim.

In my own experience with developing the Live Lingua online language school, I have found that the best way to avoid information overload is to start a quest before going and look up any information. . Well, this means trusting your instincts and the knowledge you already have before doing any real research.

For example, I’ll work on something I can until I don’t know what to do next. Only at this point will I be looking for the information I need to overcome the hurdle I was facing at that time.

When I have enough information to fix the problem I’m working on, I get back to work and work as hard as I can until I hit the next hurdle. Then I repeat this process until I’m done with whatever I’m doing.

This means that I only spend enough time gathering information as needed, and I get things done more quickly. Try this method, as it can save you from any hole in the internet, get confused by various opinions and articles, and then decide you need a quick “rest” by scrolling on social media, ultimately stifling your progress.

To end it all

In today’s digital age, we are all constantly bombarded with information from every angle, every day. This can cause information overload and all the emotions that come with it: overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, etc.

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You can overcome any information overload you may currently be experiencing by using and applying information in your life and determining what you need for a task. Then, in the future, prevent information overload by starting a task before going and looking up any information.

Featured photo credit: freestocks via unsplash.com

https://www.lifehack.org/922480/information-overload What Is Information Overload (And How to Overcome It)

Sarah Ridley

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