Ever since the internet began, the amount of information that you can access has increased exponentially, and it continues to grow every day. And with more information accessible at your fingertips, the harder it is to process and consume it.
This result is what’s known as information overload: because there’s so much information, you end up feeling that you need to consume everything, which leaves you little time to act.
Understanding Information Overload
Our brains are sophisticated and powerful computers, processing millions of signals from your sensory organs every day. However, you can still be overwhelmed with the amount of content that you’re processing with the time you spend online.
This is particularly true when you’re researching certain topics and end up being distracted with content that isn’t related. Whether it’s at work or outside of it, you can be sidetracked with all kinds of information that have nothing do with your task, but you feel compelled to look for them “just because”.
You should also keep in mind that this is different from “sensory overload”.
Where the latter means being constantly bombarded by all kinds of images, sounds, and sensations, the former is something that’s more difficult to process since your brain hasn’t evolved to process huge amounts of this kind of information yet.
How to Handle Information Overload
You can protect yourself from feeling overwhelmed with data and information using the following steps:
• Skim – Skimming blog posts and website content means taking only the important notes, and this lets you process more content faster and more easily while getting everything you need to know.
• Filter information – You can sort emails by priority to make sure only the important ones get through. If you’re searching for information on a subject online, it helps to have a list of related terms or topics, and narrow your search.
• Don’t multitask – One of the easiest ways to burn yourself out through overload is taking on multiple tasks at once. You can avoid this by focusing on only one task at a time.
• Prioritize – Find out what you can act on right away and what you can’t. If you can’t do anything immediately with the information that you currently have, it’s best to shelve it and focus on the ones that you can do something with.
By taking the right steps, you can make sure that you stay on track and keep yourself from being overwhelmed by the amount of information you’re faced with every day. Whether it’s in your work or outside of it, knowing how to find out what you need and what you don’t can spell the difference in your productivity.
26 Oct 2018