How To Control Information Overload Before It Controls You
Rules to help you control with this plethora of Information Overload
You sit at your desk, primed for another day of work when it hits you - overwhelm, lack of focus and frustration. There it is: your inbox has 125 emails and it is only 9 a.m. What's a sane person to do? Some of us might dream of doing the following: take two pills and skipping work for the day, pressing delete, running for the hills or choosing to do anything but answer the dang emails.
The 21st century is deemed the Century of Information Overload. This term refers to the state of having too much information to make a decision. It also refers to the massive amounts of historical information one must sift through and the high rate of new information being added every day. Not to mention the contradictions to the information you already read.
When you're faced with overload, you get stymied and can't even make a single decision.
It's similar to visiting the grocery store and deciding what type of plastic food wrap to buy. Years ago, there was only Saran-Wrap and a couple other brands. And, these only did one thing - cover food.
Now, you can get microwaveable plastic, self-sealing, extra long, stretchy...the list is endless and as you stand in the aisle attempting to make a decision after a long day, your brain feels like it's just been strained through a coffee mill.
By now you're probably wondering, 'How do I cope?
First, have no fear - we're all in the same boat.
So, how to control information overload before it controls you?
Here are some rules to help you control with this plethora of Information Overload:
- Realize that most people feel tired and overwhelmed - it's not all in your head. There really is more information you process in one day than your ancestors did in their whole lives.
- Most information isn't critical and just acts like background noise to take your focus away from really important things in life. You need to learn what is important to you - 99% of information will not be relevant to your life.
- You need to take control of the information, not the information taking control of you. If you sign up for every online marketing newsletter out there, you will be overwhelmed. Decide which marketers are relevant to you and your business and take your name off the list of the others.
- Set up rules for times people can reach you and build in 'hidden moments' of time where you can escape by yourself. Hey, you may even have an original thought enter your mind during this time.
- Set techno-rules. For example, only check email two or three times a day for a maximum of 15 minutes. If you surf the Internet for research, set a timer for 10 minutes and see what you find during this time.
There is much you can do to control Information Overload so start by asking yourself, 'Is this relevant to me, my job, friends, or family? Is this something I need to know or is it just taking up mental space?'
Once you apply these rules over time, you'll start to feel more relaxed and in control of your world. Yes, there will still be things that come up, bad habits that creep back in but if you're aware, you can make positive changes and shape your world the way you like it.
Lisa Rickwood, BFA, CTACC, is a small business owner and coach, speaker and author of Escape The Pace: 100 Fun and Easy Ways to Slow Down and Enjoy Your Life, andco-author of Power & Soul: 42 Entrepreneurs Share their Secrets for Creating the Business and Life of Their Dreams. If you're feeling overwhelmed, drowning in too many projects or suffering from techno-stress, Lisa can help.