One topic I would like to discuss today is information overload. Nowadays, with social media and constant access to news, we can find it very difficult to focus. This is the result of what is called information overload.
Information overload is defined as “the exposure to or provision of too much information or data.”
Information and knowledge is available at the press of a button and the moment a major event happens in the world, the entire world has full access to the news within seconds.
Having access can be a good thing but having too much can be a huge problem and can effect your productivity in a bad way. When you learn how to conquer this problem you’d be amazed at how much your productivity will improve.
So, let’s get into it.
Here are 3 Major Causes of Information Overload and 3 Solutions:
Cause #1: News & Advertisements
News and advertisements are everywhere. They are practically unavoidable. The sad part is, most of them are bad for us. Everyday we are bombarded with stories about murders or ads for fast foods that cause cancer and heart disease. On the contrary, rarely, do we ever get exposed to positive stories or content.
Psychology Professor Daniel Levitin, from McGill University brings up an interesting point regarding this topic:
“In 1976 there were 9,000 products in the average grocery store, and now it’s ballooned to 40,000 products. And yet most of us can get almost all of our shopping done in just 150 items, so you’re having to ignore tens of thousands of times every time you go shopping.”
Professor Levitin’s statements are quite shocking but are the unfortunate truth. This shows us how much distraction we have to overcome each day.
From the moment we wake up and turn on our TVs and phones we are swamped with advertisements and negative news headlines. Once we walk out of the door the subways are flooded with these same advertisements.
Solution: Tune Out the Noise
Make an effort to not watch the news in the morning or check social media. There are apps to check for commute times and the weather. Starting your day on a positive note is crucial to having solid and productive days. By avoiding the TV and smartphone you won’t be exposed to the attention grabbing morning headlines that the media uses to reel you in to their junk.
Instead spend your waking hours and commute focusing on positive things. Read a self-help, read the bible, listen to an audio book, or listen to some positive uplifting music. Do anything that will keep your attention away from the things the media wants you to have your attention on. Trust me, your thinking will become a lot clearer. This helped me tremendously.
Cause #2: Social Media
Social media has dramatically changed the way society operates. There was once a time when America wouldn’t hear about something that happened in China for 1 or 2 days. Now, with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and various other platforms, news spreads globally in seconds. Inherently, this is not a bad thing, but it can be when social media is used incorrectly.
MINDLESSLY looking through our social media timelines is bad. Throughout the day they are loaded with the newest viral video or article about a gory killing, celebrity scandal, or political issue. As you consume all of this negative information, it will take a toll on you mentally and eventually YOU TOO will begin to feel negative. This will leak in to different areas of your life and massive amounts of time will get wasted.
According to one study, Americans check their social media accounts at least 17 times and day and spend on average 4.7 hours per day on their phones!
It’s no wonder many of us feel overwhelmed and as if there is not enough time in the day.
Solution: Monitor Your Social Media Usage (2 Steps)
Step 1: Create TIME BLOCKS
Set aside a specific time in the day that you will dedicate to social media usage. This will help you avoid wasting precious hours.
Step 2: Implement ‘Conscious Social Media Usage’
Control your usage by planning what exactly it is you will be logging in to do and sticking to it, no excuses.
For example: “when I log into Facebook I’m going to post a picture, check my girlfriend’s and dad’s pages, and respond to messages in my inbox and wall.”
By doing this, you will have a plan of action and be less prone to falling for click bait or getting mindlessly distracted by the random posts of other people. The control will be back in your hands and you won’t find yourself mindlessly wandering.
You’ll thank me later.
Cause #3: Other People
No way. Did he really just say that? Yes, I did. People can be a distraction and do contribute to information overload.
Have you ever had a conversation with a co-worker or friend and they were complaining to you. Maybe they were complaining about politics, about their problems, or just complaining about everything.
I’m sure after a while their complaining began to impact YOUR mood and you started to feel a bit less enthusiastic about life. Maybe even feeling a bit negative yourself.
This is very common and is a huge problem.
Generally speaking, people in society are negative. Most people look at the negative side of things and then chose to spew their beliefs out on others.
There was once a time when people could only do this to you in person. But now with social media in the picture they can spread their negative energy throughout the entire planet. Everyday you get to wake up and see what negative thing Sally has to say today on your timeline.
Plus, not only do you get to hear about Sally’s problems, but now you also get to hear about stranger’s problems too!
This can be a bad issue.
With so many people spurting their negativity out at you from different directions, it is tough to remain optimistic which is a crucial trait to functioning at a high level of success. Over time, bearing the problems of the world will take a toll on your mental state and hamper your productivity.
Solution: Stop Being the Garbage Dump
While these people my be your friends and even your family. It is important to establish proper boundaries when it comes to tolerating their complaints. There’s nothing wrong with talking to people about their problems constructively or supporting a friend during a tough time but if it is coming from a place of being a victim, whining, or complaining, it is not conducive for either one of you.
If someone chooses to vent to you every time they see you, just simply tell them you don’t want to hear their negativity all the time because it ruins your mood and if that doesn’t work then you simply have to distance yourself from that person for your own protection.
When it comes to social media, what I like to do, when applicable, is to control whose posts I can see on my timeline. That way I won’t see posts from people that always share negative content. On certain sites, like instagram, where I don’t have that option I just delete the person entirely, no matter who they are.
By making the choice to stop being people’s garbage dumpster you will have clearer thinking, you will feel more positive, and you won’t suffer from information overload.
Hope this helped you overcome information overload.
And remember, be great.