In the age of the Internet, information is now all around us. This means the likelihood of information overload is more likely. Yet in the age of information where information is all around us, this is a huge problem.
The effects of Information overload are few but devastating. For example, analysis paralysis is likely to happen when you’re overloaded. This makes your life difficult by paralyzing your decision-making skills.
Causes of Information Overload
There are many causes of Information overload. But they all boil down to one big cause: the rise of “instant tools”. Instant tools are tools where you could get everything you want instantly. For example, need to know a piece of information? You can find it in seconds (Google). Need to ask someone for details, go. It won’t take you days (email). This trend is continuing to rise and shows no sign of stopping. You can’t avoid Information overload because the causes are things you need in this era. Rather, you have to find a cure.
Here is the RINSE technique to overcome information overload:
When you have a routine, you make less decisions. Less decisions means less likelihood for info overload. It’s that simple. Tell me, do you get overwhelmed when you’re about to open the door because you don’t know which way to turn it? Of course not. It’s already a routine.
“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.” -Mike Murdock
With so many people using the Internet, it’s a certainty you will get conflicting ideas, thoughts, and concepts. With this, how do you choose from two options with two different people and they both proved to work? The answer? Implementation. Implementation helps you decide on which idea, thought, or concept is correct or at least will work better for you.
Taking notes is another way to wage war on Information overload. When you read something, always take good notes. Good notes help you understand a concept better and reflect on it. And they also allow you to remember a fact more easily. Good note taking is a skill you’ve learned in your school years. Time to put it to good use.
Single-task. Don’t try to juggle too many things at once. If you do, the conflicting ideas will confuse you. Let’s say you need to write an essay on the effects of climate change and need to make a presentation on politics. That’s two almost unrelated topics.
So let’s say you do both. You make the presentation and write the essay at the same time. Know what will happen? You will be less productive. Not only that, since the two tasks are largely unrelated, you will confuse concepts for either one. One concept could be confused to belong to one task when it’s part of the other.So single-task. Your brain can only take in so much information.
“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.” – Steve Jobs
Stop reading everything for now. Seriously. Just stop. One reason you get Information overload is the internet, blogs, magazines, and lots of other sources of information. They juice you up with Information your brain can’t cope up. So go and remove yourself from any source of information for a little while. Knowledge is good. But too much isn’t.
Information overload is a big problem especially in the Information Era where information is available everywhere. But with a few tricks and techniques, it can be overcome.