We all have those times when information is coming at us from all sides. The radio is on, our phone is beeping with new notifications and our friends are in full-on conversation about the latest news. Cue, information overload. Our problem isn’t that we are not getting enough information; it’s that we are getting too much information.
O.K. this example applies to people aged 30 and over… Remember when you were in secondary school and you had to do a project. For research, you borrowed a few books from the library and used whatever out-of-date encyclopedia you had at home. Now, secondary school kids doing the same project have an internet of infinite information available to them to research. Their problem isn’t finding information, it’s finding the correct and relevant information.
Who has experienced that feeling when the information around us stops being enlightening and starts to become overwhelming? As far as problems go, it seems relatively minor. But if we’re experiencing it on a regular basis, it can be stressful and even cause anxiety. With so much information on offer, can we recognise when we’re experiencing information overload and how to retreat from the daily barage of information. Also, how can we stay in touch with current affairs and news without it becoming all consuming. This is something that's been really playing on my mind for the last few months. I'm currently reading "Curation: The Power of Selection in a World of Excess" by Michael Bhaskar and it's giving me so much more clarity on how I consume information. I'm only half way through, but I'm learning a lot. I'll include this book on my next Book Recommendation post, but in the meantime, I'm going to try to get a grip on my information consumption by following these simple tips. PS: the book isn't so much about tips, rather it serves as a total eye opener into how much information we are being fed; the tips are just kinda common sense.
1. Avoid information rabbit holes.
Avoid going down information rabbit holes. Who else watched The Crown and kept pausing it to google facts about the Royal Family. Please tell me it wasn’t just me. One quick google search and an hour later, I was still on Wikipedia, reading about the the Queen's distant relatives. Note to self... put down the phone and just watch the programme.
2. Exercise care with social media.
I’m a fan of social media but I am diligent about ensuring I spend more time offline than on. I downloaded the Moments app which tracks the amount of time I spend on my phone. It is eye-opening and prompted me to seriously regulate my time online. Turn of notifications on all devices and check your phone when you choose to and not when it demands you to. Airplane mode is really handy when you need a few hours of total offline solitude.
3. Curate your information streams.
O.K.! At the risk of some serious eye-rolling, my next tip is to curate your information sources. Love or loathe the word, we are all curating stuff right now! There is so much stuff around us that we need to simplify. We need to identify what’s important to us and make room for that and discard the rest. We need to be choosy about where we get our information and how we consume it. So curate, curate, curate!! I see those eye-rolls.
4. Practice patience.
In an age of shortening attention spans, I often find myself seriously impatient for information. So much so, that I can’t wait until the end of a movie or until my walk is over to feed my hunger for it. I’m reaching for my phone feeding myself more and more information. I have no idea when I started doing this, but now I'm practicing patience when I feel the urge for more information, by taking a few deep breaths and copping the "F" on before I reach for my phone.
5. Do other stuff.
If we're spending all our time consuming information there's less time to do other stuff. So do other stuff! Walking without our phones, going swimming, practicing yoga, deliberately leaving our phones at home when socialising are all great ways to be more in the moment and switch off from the constant feed of information around us.