This is a guest article by Sophia Anderson. This particular article was not easy to write, and several rounds of writing and editing went into it. So please thank Sofia for her hard work in your comments. Sophia Anderson is an associate educator, blogger and freelance writer. She is passionate about covering topics on learning, writing, business, careers, self-improvement, motivation and others. She believes in the driving force of positive attitude and constant development. Feel free to get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.
One of the biggest problems we come across in our lives is the sheer abundance of information, which is not exactly something that we thought would ever occur. Information overload is happening, and it is a real issue. The term “information overload” was invented by Bertram Gross in 1964. Gross, who was a professor teaching political science at Hunter College, explained it as a situation in which the system’s capacity for processing information is not able to handle the amount of input. As a result, one’s ability to make decisions is diminished.
The reason why information overload is such a problem is that we are required to learn and develop our skills on an almost daily basis so that we are able to keep up with the trends and requirements the digital age is promoting. The pace is almost insane. But, before we get on to how we can fight information overload, let’s take a look at how and why it happens first.
How Information Overload Happens
It’s pretty hard to just name all the different causes of information overload, but we will try and categorize them in the following way:
- new data is created every day, 5 million exabytes to be exact.
- the increasingly competitive market, where having more information means having an edge over your competitors
- the ease of creating, sharing, and publishing information online
- there is more historical data than ever before in history
- plenty of duplicate, redundant, and erroneous data
- the appearance of new media (TV, radio, newspapers, social media, websites, email, SMS messages, RSS feeds…)
- lack of structure and practices for dealing with the amount of data we are receiving
According to YouTube, 300 hours of video are uploaded to it every single minute, which means you would never catch up, even if you were awake all the time. And it’s pretty much the same everywhere, so do we find a way to deal with all of that?
How to Fight Information Overload
Here is what you can do in order to not to be overwhelmed with information overload:
Take Action without Having All the Facts
Analyzing all the facts can take up a lot of your time, and a lot of space inside your brain, and more often than not, you will be dealing with a ton of information which is not all that important or a task which is pretty menial. Try and picture the consequences of you taking action without having all the necessary information, and being wrong. Not a whole lot happened? Then go ahead and do it.
Ignore Some Data
While it’s certainly nice to know as much as possible, you should feel free to ignore some of the information coming your way every day. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should ignore emails sent by your clients or your boss, or texts from your significant other. But it does mean focusing on what you need to know, and ignoring stuff that you would perhaps like to know, but which isn’t essential.
Learn to Skim
According to Samuel Hanson, who deals with lots of data as a content writer for UK Essayontime, any kind of content is bound to contain a lot of filler, with no more than a few key points that are really important. Learn to go over the content quickly and walk away with having a general idea about what you have read. Again, it is best to do this for projects and tasks which are not that essential, and where a potential mistake wouldn’t cause a critical consequence.
Delegate Some of the Tasks
If you are in a position where you have people working for you, or if you are working inside a team, you don’t need to take on all of the information yourself. You can simply delegate a portion of it to someone else, and avoid information overload that way.
Do the Most Difficult Task First Thing in the Morning
No matter how difficult it might seem, do the task you dread the most, and which takes up most of your energy, first thing in the morning because that’s when you are fresh and at your most productive. It will be less difficult for you to deal with all that data early on, then later in the day.
You don’t need to react to every single piece of data you receive right away. Don’t check your email every 15 minutes or so, for instance. Unless you are expecting an important email from your boss or a big client, you can simply check it twice a day.
The amount of information out there is tremendous, and it’s making our job more difficult, instead of making it more efficient. That is why it’s important to follow the tips shared inside this article and protect yourself from information overload so that you remain a healthy, productive individual in the long run.