Self Help Skills

How To Cope With Information Overload

1. What is information overload? Information overload is a modern condition where there is simply too much information (TMI in slang) and too many distractions (internet, smartphones, too much media) that it is becoming very hard for us to mak informed and well-reasoned decisions.


Fun terms to describe information overload have come up: infobesity, infoxication, information glut and data smog. Take a pick from this definition overload.


2. Causes of information overload: We already mentioned the 'always on' nature of modern life, the era of the internet, smartphones and too much media (and too many TV shows too, as one TV executive recently complained). But all this is driven by our fear of missing out (FOMO in short, where we keep thinking we are missing out on the latest , that we fail to get a comprehensive look) and our naturally lizard brain, which is always looking for next 'fix'.


3. Consequences of information overload: Cognitive (brain function) experts say information overload contributes a lot to workplace stress - there is simply too much information, and sifting through it for useful bits is making us anxious ('my research is incomplete'); and our memory is only good for short-term nowadays; we can't concentrate properly at work, and ultimately our decision making skills suffer.


4. Start managing your information: Just as we manage our time, creating a prioritized to-do list, we should also create a prioritized list of types of information that we goes through every day - emails, kinds of emails, work-related data, work-related documents, etc.


Create a priority list for all data.


5. Start to seek information efficiently (some call it going on an 'information diet'): Remember the Pareto principle: In this case, 20% of information coming to you will account for 80% of all value. Make sure you identify what type this 20% information looks like - this list should also include the websites you need to browse to get relevant business information. Bookmark those websites and organize them in a folder.


6. Focus on the type of information that is very relevant to your current project/job.


7. Learn to delete data: unread emails, documents etc If they were important, you would gone through them, at least once a month. Otherwise, press 'delete'.


8. Take a break: A real break. Leave your smartphone at home, if you really have the guts and discipline to do it. You must learn to switch off at times, to help your mind clear itself out of the debris.


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