Are You on Information Overload?

Information OverloadWhenever I visit the cell phone store, I feel like we have totally slipped over the edge as a society. Recently the salesperson pointed out that this new lovely “gazingus” model allows you to receive a continual news and information scroll in addition to taking calls, pictures, playing games, playing music, acting as an organizer, and accessing the internet and e-mail. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my smartphone and it is a great productivity tool, BUT if you don’t set boundaries around using it, you will lose your mind.

Let’s talk about information overload.  I am continually amazed and grateful for the wealth of information that is available at my fingertips.  Something I couldn’t even fathom 20 years ago and for those of you older than I am it might even seem otherworldly.  Yet, while I relish the amount of information at my fingertips there comes a time when it is just TOO MUCH. Our minds are not build to be a supercomputer performing multi-task processing 24/7.

Consider this:

How many different ways do we receive information? Well, there are books, magazines, television, radio, memos, flyers, email, newspapers, bulletin boards, the internet, instant messenger, telephones, cell phones, pagers, handhelds, computers, in person conversations, unspoken body language, notebooks, and advertisements on the sides of taxis, grocery bags, and buses just to name the ones that come to mind immediately.

Now, say that ten times fast!  It’ll make your head spin. This, my friends is the peril of the business environment we live in.

If we allow information to continually bombard us without putting some boundaries around what we choose to let into our mental and physical space, it is likely that we will be stressed out to the max, incapable of functioning at any productive level mentally and creatively, and perhaps simply go insane.

More is not better. There is a limit to the amount of information we can take in yet alone utilize.

Even more importantly, it is not just the quantity of information we try to digest but also the quality of that information that affects our well-being and our ability to meet our business goals.

Have you ever watched a scary movie late at night and then tried to go to bed for a peaceful night sleep? How did that work for you? If you’re anything like me, you couldn’t fall asleep, woke up spooked with bad dreams, or simply slept fitfully. That is an example of the impact the quality of information you feed your mind can have on you.

Since this has become such the “norm” in our daily lives, you might not even consciously notice the impact it is having on you.  As a business owner you feel like you need to learn more, do more, and be more.  The pressures to succeed coupled with the information coming at you like a fire hose can knock you so far off course of what you are really trying to achieve that you won’t know what hit you.

Take Stock of Your Inner Awareness

What degree of information overload do you have in your life?

  • How many hours a day do you spend sifting through information (e-mails, paper, mail, newspapers, the internet, your smartphone, etc.)?
  • How much of this information is really relevant to your business?
  • Do you set strong boundaries around how much information you’ll let into your space and when?

Now Take Practical Action:

  • Set time limits on digesting information. Set an egg timer if you must, but limit the amount of information you ingest.
  • Ruthlessly purge information you don’t need that doesn’t feed you in some way (files, folders, magazines, books, subscriptions, etc.).
  • Set and stick to strong boundaries of the amount and quality of information that you let into your mind, heart, and space.

If you’re not totally convinced that you are on information overload, try this game.

For 1 week, at the end of each day:

  • Summarize all the key points of all the information you digested that day as if you had to teach it to a three year old.
  • Do you even remember or has it blurred into an unrecognizable blob in your head?
  • If it is not crystal clear to you, and it is not immediately actionable to your business, you need to do some information spring cleaning in your daily routine.

photo credit: Keoni Cabral via photopin cc

2 thoughts on “Are You on Information Overload?”

  1. Oh, Paula:
    You have hit on a mantra of mine…the information overload. I, for one, am not cut out for the "zillions" of ways (it feels like there's that many) a person can be contacted, stimulated, communicated with…verbally, non-verbally, electronically, aurally, visually, physically and other means I'm sure others can testify to. I'm in the field of communications…it's my job to help people choose the most effective means of getting their message across to generate a reaction and be responded to in some fashion. Our world has certainly changed in the way people prefer to communicate and be communicated with. Reading and long-hand writing is arduous. Getting spoon-fed, instantly gratifying information is better. And in a way, who can blame those attracted to the latter. There is TOO much to absorb today!! And, it's actually hard to restrict the means by which you want to recieve your information. You may feel your missing something if you don't take in as much as you can. But, I have noticed how overwhelmed I am and others are in processing that much stimuli. It's just not how we were built. Yes, some minds are intellectually capable, but then they may be limited in contributing in other meaningful ways, e.g., emotionally, spiritually, humbly.
    I have already made a concious effort to reduce the number of ways I get information, mostly by finally getting real with myself and admitting that some of them are "cop outs,"e.g., mindless TV shows…just a way to briefly sidetrack you from the numerous things on your mind, not just from one day's accumulation of information, but possibly many, many days. Even if you could wipe your slate clean each day, the number of ways people can stack up information at your doorstep nowadays within hours, within a work day, makes it much easier to get behind dealing with information processing and decision-making. And I'm not just thinking of the "corporate" or "entreprenuerial" professional, but also the folks like the stay-at-home Mom or Dad which multiplies exponentially by number of children, and pets for that matter!! WOW!!
    I appreciate your suggestion to CUT DOWN on the number of means we receive our information and communications. It's sort of like the "closet lady" who comes in and gets rid of your non-essentials and you feel a bit of a sigh of relief that your not looking at stacks of stuff anymore, not having known where in God to begin. But, it's the same problem. WHAT shouldn't I be reading or hearing about and cut that from my list? May be a new specialty!!

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