Information Overload

Information overload. They call it “drinking from the fire hose”. That’s the perfect analogy for my life right now, and maybe yours as well. So much information coming through so quickly I waffle between the anxiety that I’ll miss something important and the thrill of discovering one more excellent blog that I want to follow but don’t really have time to read.

Meanwhile the stacks of paper waiting for attention in my office and at home continue to grow. Whoever said the information age would be paperless made a serious miscalculation.

I’m not sure there is a “cure” for information overload. And, even if there were, I would not sign on.  I think of information overload as more of a chronic condition that I have to learn to manage. The truth is, I like having information within easy reach. I find myself caring about issues that I didn’t even know existed four years ago. I certainly know more about the world’s geography and political issues. Social media helps me be a better friend because I can stay in touch more often and more easily than ever before.  And I am a better consumer, citizen and educator because of the information available to me.  So, what’s the downside?

I am searching for ways to find the right balance between what it would be nice to know and what I need to know now? Below are some strategies I’ll be trying out in 2012. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I would welcome your feedback on how you control the flow of information.

  • Finding time everyday when I can “unplug” and be completely in the moment. I’m shooting for an hour but my minimum is 30 minutes.
  • Learning to focus on quality over quantity. I’m looking for the very best information I can get. I will embrace my trusted resources and let them do the curation for me and, in return. I will curate information for others. No one needs to know everything about every thing!
  • I will place more emphasis on intentional activity. Rather than trying to do many things at once I will practice deeper concentration and see if I can complete a task before being swept away to something else.

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2 Responses to Information Overload

  1. Eleanor says:

    The more I learn, the more I want to learn and, yes, I love that. The downside, for me, comes when I make too many commitments and lose the ability to see accessing information as a choice. This means that I subscribe to blogs and newsletters that I sometimes don’t read, and that e-mails sometimes go unread. In the mean time, I let my intuition guide my process of discovery and I’m gentle with myself when I don’t get to it all. It may sound crazy, but I find that I eventually circle back–eventually–to information that’s really important for me to receive. Most of all, I try to balance the onslaught of information with chunks of time to just think–something I don’t think most of us leave much time for these days. Thanks for this thoughtful post…it got me thinking!

  2. terry holden says:

    this is very thoughtful, and hopefully helpful… the trap is multi-tasking like an American. So then, after years of trying to get it all right… I’ve taught myself to see things in one of two lights. Does this work or does this not work? That helps to keep the task, physical or mental, in a perspective that allows me to try something else if it doesn’t work. To get un-glued from the gotta, hafta, shoulda, must… This makes it more fun to learn and implement new or old information. The other thing that helps is keeping nimble in expectations in all things; family, friends, farm, future and faith. Hope this makes sense; its all good ~ take what you like and leave the rest. enjoy the day, terry

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