How to Cope With Information Overload
We process around 74 Gb every day! With such space, it is unrealistic to remember everything that you read, see or hear. The ability to filter incoming data has become much more useful, which is why productivity apps are so popular. :)
Great volumes of information can be overwhelming. We want to share how you can deal with so much data; how to filter it, remember it and effectively relay it to others, without overloading them.
What is Information Overload?
Information overload is the excessive storage of unnecessary data, which leads to an inability to separate truth from lies, useful things from harmful, and positive from negative. This leads to stress, fatigue, reduced productivity and quality of life.
For example, you looked through the Facebook feed, but instead of the expected satisfaction from entertainment posts, you received only negative emotions. Friends’ photos of friends, pictures of cats and funny videos may have made you smile, but in the end, you realise that you have wasted another hour of your life and received nothing in return.
Is the Internet the Cause?
The first and partly correct thought: «Of course, the reason for the information overload is the Internet — there is no end to social networks, blogs, video hostings, etc.»
However, this phenomenon appeared much earlier in human experience and was first described in 1949 by mathematician Claude Shannon. The classic term “information overload” was coined by political science professor Bertram Gross in 1964 and later popularised by futurist writer Alvin Toffler in the 1970s. Since then, the volume of data out there has only grown.
Nowadays, people even don’t have time to consume all the information created daily:
- More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of content appear every day.
- Until 2021, 79 zettabytes of data have been generated worldwide. This number will double by 2025.
- Unfortunately, 90% of the data is copied, not unique.
- On Facebook, users upload 100 terabytes of data every day.
- More than 500 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute — it is more than 30.000 hours of content per hour.
Shocking numbers! Of course, no one is filtering this unimaginable amount of data, except for blocking forbidden topics on social networks.
So, our task is to understand how to filter and use this data and not go crazy.
What to Do?
If you feel tired and stressed, and notice that you can’t focus on anything because your thoughts are filled with tons of unimportant minor things, try the following:
1. Limit Internet Use
Refrain from checking your social media feed during the workday. In the evening, take up a hobby or communicate with loved ones, or spend your free time outdoors, especially since it is getting warmer. Step into the lengthening evenings; take a walk in the park for a cup of coffee.
2. Clean Your Subscriptions Regularly
Is your feed or inbox more like a dump of ad spam and irrelevant alerts? Unsubscribe from unnecessary ones. After a couple of months, only the most important will remain.
As for the news feed, it is very important to understand what you are reading. Remember that journalists often embellish and even compose newsbreaks in order to gain views and clicks. So, we recommend subscribing only to proven sources and unsubscribe from yellow press.
3. Check the News at the Same Time Everyday
It is tempting to read news while having lunch or before going to bed. However, this provokes brain activity and fills your head with many thoughts, after which it’s hard to work or sleep. Dedicate an hour in the evening with some free time for other things afterwards.
4. Mix the Topics
Algorithms of news feeds in social networks show only what you pay attention to. So, it may seem that everything is bad, or vice versa, it will seem to you that only cute kittens exist in the world. As with everything in life, it’s best to strike a balance — a little news, a little cuteness, and as much as possible — useful educational subscriptions. :)
5. Only Share Important and Verified Information
Be selective, otherwise you will simply contribute to more information overload. Before you send another link to your friends, analyse whether the source is reliable and whether this information is important for the recipient. Ask yourself a question: ‘Would I like to spend time reading or watching this instead of doing something more important?’
6. Turn off Notifications
Every time a new notification arrives, you involuntarily look at the screen of your smartphone and get distracted. In most of cases, your notification is an advertisement from shopping apps — not very important, but your attention has already been shifted. If you turn off almost all notifications, you will no doubt feel more comfortable and relaxed.
7. Find Alternative Sources of Information
If you yearn to learn, don’t scroll the feed. Be selective and treat yourself to some worthwhile reading. Knowledge from books, unlike some unstructured random facts from socials, will remain with you forever. Even if these are fictional and not professional literature, at least you will enjoy the plot and expand your vocabulary.
8. Perceive Information Mindfully
Speed reading has become a habit for many of us, and the principle of “learning a little of everything” is almost the norm now. Swarms of ads, empty notes and news feeds is the perfect precondition for information overload. So, if you want to qualitatively perceive useful data, allocate more time for awareness. Digest the words and phrases attentively, leaving only the most important in your memory.
9. Don’t Opt for Background Radio or TV
Often people turn on the TV in the background so that the apartment does not seem empty. We get it but there are times when this can turn into clutter for our minds, muddling up our perception. If you want to watch TV, it is better to do it purposefully, consciously filtering the flow of information. If you need some sound in the background to be productive, it is better to turn on your favorite music, which won’t distract you from the work.
12. Arrange Information-Free Days
Allocate a day on the weekend for offline pastime and live communication. Switch off your work thoughts and activities. Indulge in planning for trips to another city, updating your wardrobe, and anything that will spark positive emotions.
We hope that our recommendations will help limit the flow of information and reduce stress caused by consuming unnecessary data.
If you have your own life hacks that have proved to be great in practice and could help others, please share them in the Responses section. Afterall, this is exactly the information we need — useful and not at all overloading.