The world we live in forces us to process an enormous quantity of information in order to succeed. Social media, relationships and day to day tasks may be sometimes too much for us to handle. Information overload is characterized by the feeling of overwhelming and the incapacity to utilize the information properly.
This problem occurs when the sensory input exceeds the brain’s capacity to effectively process it. The information is stocked in the long-term memory after it went through the working memory, but our working memory has a limited capacity. Having to deal with too much information at a time not only affects the mind well-being, but also interferes with our capacity to effectively store the information.
What exactly causes information overload?
- Tons of information about a specific subject
- Social media and the easiness to pass the information
- The lack of simplicity in information structures
- Different platforms to share information
- The state of mind which may interfere with effectively processing information
- The fear of making the wrong decisions
- Not knowing whether the information is authentic or not
How it affects us?
Receiving too much information interferes with our ability to understand and to store it, and therefore, affects the quality of our lives in general. Persons who are constantly exposed to massive amounts of information struggle to concentrate and to get all the work done.
Drowning in tons of information affects our productivity and creativity, making us more vulnerable to stress. When new information constantly interferes with the tasks we need to complete, we end up getting easily annoyed or distracted. Also, having to deal with too much information makes us feel exhausted in a very short time.
How to avoid information overload?
The abundance of information we have today at our disposal is not always helpful or even necessary. To avoid information overload we need to learn how to effectively analyze and work with information, but also how to reduce the unhelpful input.
1. Learn to sort the useful information from that which is not helpful to you.
Not everything you interact with is necessary for your growth process or decision making. Some types of information will only cause you cognitive dissonance as they may interfere with your personal beliefs and behavior. Learn to ignore that type of information that is irrelevant for the situation.
2. Establish your goals.
Knowing why you need a specific information will make it easier for you to find it and use it. Ask yourself why you need to learn a certain type of information and exclude the content that doesn’t help you achieve your goals.
3. Reduce the number of your information sources.
People tend to believe that the more sources you check, the more valuable the information is. Especially when you search for your information on the internet, decrease the number of pages you check and instead, choose those pages that look trustworthy. The number of back-links, citation and bibliography are some indicators of a trustworthy or proved information.
4. Break down complex information in sub-groups.
It is easier and more efficient to process small and organized amounts of information. As our working memory’s capacity is limited, small amounts of information are stored more successfully and are easier to recall.
5. Manage your time and prioritize.
Make a list of those tasks that require your effort and attention the most. Write the things down and you will be able to put them in order, so you won’t have to complete several tasks at a time.
6. Try to cut off your social media for at least several hours every day. Social media has a huge impact on our mental well-being as it offers tons of contradictory and questionable information. Also, social media is the number one distraction for many of us. Take some time to be alone with yourself and focus on what you enjoy doing.